Sunday, September 8, 2013

Burrito Bandito ~ Redding, California

OK - where were we before I was so rudely interrupted by my official job? Ah yes, we were munching on burritos. And we were sporadically choosing locations from our last vacation a week ago.

On this day, we were taking the drive on I-5 south from Medford, Oregon back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I had done this trip in reverse way back in 2002 - at that time I had a 2 week business trip from San Diego to Seattle, with one week at my satellite office in Pleasanton. But Mrs. RJG wasn't with me, so this would be her first time to experience. The trip from Medford to Redding, through the Mt. Shasta and Shasta Lake area, is beautiful. One of the more attractive Interstate highway routes you will ever encounter outside of I-70 in central Colorado. Redding is either the gateway to the beautiful Shasta area -or- boring agricultural land depending on which way you're going.

As you may have read here before, the RJG has been to all 50 state capitals at one point or another (having gathered Olympia, Washington last year to complete the task. Ah yes, good observation by you - why didn't I get it in 2002? Because dummy here didn't stop. That doesn't count). However, while watching the show "How the States Got Their Shapes" on the History Channel a couple of years back, I learned that we were supposed to have a 51st state (or 49th at the time). The state was to be called Jefferson, made up of about 5 counties in northern California and southern Oregon. And the capital was to be Yreka. But something called Pearl Harbor got in the way, and it all fell through the cracks from there. I never knew that! Since I only drove through back in 2002, I ensured we stopped and got the proverbial T-shirt. Might as well cover that base while we're here - it may surface again! But the timing wasn't right to eat in Yreka, and off to Redding we headed for lunch.

Burrito Bandito is just the kind of dumb name that is a magnet for the RJG. Urbanspoon had the chain rated very highly so we decided to stop at one of the two Redding locations (Placer) for a big ol' fat burrito. I went for "Juan's favorite" Pollo while Mrs. RJG had the carne asada Burrito Bowl. The burrito is GIANT, which was fine by me as I was starving. The chicken was delicious as was the rice, cheese, and everything else. I even went for the refried beans instead of black beans, which gave the flavor a whole new texture. Mrs. RJG's carne asada tasted truly like a charbroiled steak, rather than the steamed meat we've come to expect. She loved it. And each table had their own bottle of "Burrito Bandito Habanero Sauce". Ah - load me up with that! Overall, Burrito Bandito makes a fantastic burrito. After our wonderful meal, we walked next door to the grocery store and picked out a couple of local to northern California craft brew micro bombers (that we can't get at home of course) and we were set for the patio seating in the Bay Area later that night :-)


Burrito Bandito West on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 2, 2013

High Tech Burrito ~ Windsor, California

And while on the topic of burritos, how about I cover off on a couple of those California chains I referenced?

If you've never had the pleasure to drive the 101 north out of San Francisco via the Golden Gate bridge, then it's surely something you should strive for one day. I've done it dozens of times in the past, and I never get tired of it. Over the years, we stayed in various areas in and around Napa and Sonoma. In the last couple of years, we've made Windsor our base camp for exploring the wine country, specifically the Russian River Valley. There's a very nice and newish Hampton Inn there, with well stocked grocery stores and restaurants nearby. And a State Park with running trails, which is perfect for the RJG couple, as we need to run off all that wine, beer, and food! And Windsor avoids the hustle and bustle of Santa Rosa just to the south - so it's truly an ideal retreat. On this trip, we drove by many wineries, but we didn't stop this time and do the whole wine tasting, order a case, ship to Texas routine - rather deciding to continue our focus on beer rather than wine. But just the drives themselves are pleasant. And we went all the way to the Pacific Coast this time, which is about an hour away. It was typically foggy and dreary - absolute perfect weather for a sun baked Texas couple looking to get out of the heat. It's always such a strange concept to me - but the words California, summer, afternoon, and 57 degrees Fahrenheit never seemed to go together. And yet there we were.

Rather than have a full lunch, with alcohol, and then start driving through the countryside, the concept of fast food with soda is far more appealing. And on the last couple of visits to Windsor we've become fond of High Tech Burrito, a regional chain based in Northern California. Perhaps not the most interesting nom de plume they could have selected, but when it comes to the food, High Tech has one of the better burritos around. They have a variety of traditional and exotic options to choose from, as well as tacos and quesadillas. I tend to stay traditional and go with grilled chicken. It's a pretty basic rice, beans, onions, cheese, mild chili mix - but everything they do is excellent and great tasting. If that's all there was, I'm not sure I'd return. But I absolutely encourage all of you to get the homemade chips, which they serve in a bag, with the (oh, you know it's coming don't you?) NUCLEAR salsa. It's a thick mixture of smoking hot green and red chiles. I can't stop plowing chips in my mouth with a big ole scoop of that scary looking heap of wonderful green. Or throwing it on the burrito while I'm at it. They charge extra for it, but it's worth it and they give you plenty. Mrs. RJG went exotic and had a Cajun Burrito Bowl, and loved it. Oh, and she recommends the Guac as well.

Want a quick lunch, but filling enough to absorb all the wine you're about to try? Go to High Tech Burrito first and you'll have plenty that will need soaking up!


High Tech Burrito on Urbanspoon