Photos By Franz Mahr, Words By Brandon Wetherbee
It exists. Don’t pretend it’s disgusting or you’re above it. You’re not. No one is. We went to college. If you didn’t go to college, that’s perfectly fine, but you most likely know someone that matriculated. So you know ramen noodles and they’re not awful. They’re not fantastic, but it’s not nearly as bad as its reputation. Stop pretending everything is gross.
California Tortilla, a chain similar but better than Chipotle because they offer over 75 hot sauces, is not above a gimmick. Gimmicks can be fun. They’re in the midst of a fun gimmick. Now through April businesspeople (all of the customers at the Arlington Courthouse location yesterday afternoon were businesspeople) will consume Ramen Burritos and Ramen Burrito Bowls.
We had to do this taste test because the two reactions we saw the most were 1) ew and 2) that’s so bad for you! Let’s address both.
Ew! Stop it. It’s not ew! It’s still better than anything on McDonald’s non-breakfast menu or Burger King’s non-breakfast menu (Breakfast food is good). The ramen in the burrito proper essentially plays the role of rice. It’s not as absurd as the reaction warrants.
It’s so bad for you! Compared to what other fast casual options? How many calories do you think are in a regular burrito? You’re eating a burrito. These things aren’t for people watching their figure. That’s why the bowl exists. Also, no one is eating a few of these a day, finally happy they can get their ramen fix with their burrito medicine.
It’s not ew or super duper bad for you. It’s not amazing and we’re not claiming it’s health food. It’s better than Taco Bell (and this is not a knock on Taco Bell, Taco Bell needs to exist for a certain time of night and should be consumed when most of the world is fast asleep) but not better than anything on the regular California Tortilla menu. The burrito is much better than the bowl. The initial few bites actually hide most of the ramen taste. Once the product cools it becomes clear that there’s a slight college/Asian inspired flavor. It has a hint of ramen but it’s not fueled by it (Who else got that reference?).
The bowl doesn’t need to exist. The bowl exists for people that realize a tortilla the size of your head is not good for your health but still want burrito flavors. The ramen defeats that purpose. The ramen flavor unavoidable, rather than just another component. That being said, burrito bowls in general don’t need to exist. Just order a burrito or a salad. Make choices.
Once again, a large reason California Tortilla is always a decent we-need-to-eat-something-now option is the vast selection of hot sauces. Highlights for this visit include the Colon Cleaner and Rasta Fire! They’re both perfectly fine hot sauces only chosen for their questionable names.
tl:dr: burrito not awful but not as good as any other burrito on the menu, burrito bowl go away