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Restaurant Review: Big Mamma’s Burritos

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Big Mamma’s BurritosPhotos by Walker Evans.
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Big Mamma’s Burritos hit Columbus this year, at first with a cooperative project at Park Street Patio & Saloon, and now with another location on Grandview Avenue (a third spot is coming later this year to South High Street). For recent Ohio University grads, it’s a hallowed institution, an Athens-based operation that dishes out big fat burritos bundled up in foil.

Given that the joint sells burritos, it’s natural to have some Chipotle-expectations. Big Mamma’s not a Chipotle. First, because at Chipotle you watch the assembly of your burrito; there’s no assembly-line here. Second, because Chipotle offerings stay in the Tex-Mex department. At Big Mamma’s, you can get a cheesesteak Burrito, or a breakfast burrito, or teriyaki or Big Mac; it’s more of a fusion burrito operation.

Speaking of the breakfast burrito, though, you can skip that one. The Breakfast Mamma ($6.75) sounded good; scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, potatoes and salsa, but it was tepid — with a filling that was not warm enough to melt the shredded cheese even a teeny, little bit. The eggs had an odd mealy texture, but that might be a result of the temperature issue.

The Philly Mamma ($6.75 — pictured up top) was better: beef, provolone, shredded cheese, lettuce ribbons, and tomatoes. There are potatoes in there too, they’re in lots of the joint’s burritos as a starchy filler. The result of the Philly combo is a balanced mix of Americana offerings that comes across as hearty and filling. The appeal of Big Mamma’s is far more evident in the cheesesteak burrito.

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There are more traditional burrito options on the menu — that is, offerings with a Southwest flair. Case in point is the Mamma Grande ($6.75), a combination of meat (chicken was the choice), rice, beans, cheese, romaine, red peppers, sour cream, cilantro and onions. The plump bundle delivers a heavy, heady downscale food joy.

The traditional Veg Burrito ($6.75) is another skippable one. It’s a great deal of rice with some (admittedly nice) diced red pepper, beans, ribbons of leafy green lettuce and more rice. You have to really love rice to hit the jackpot with this one. That said, the menu offers vegetable versions of its other combinations, including Buffalo and Teriyaki. Those might be worth some investigation.

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Moving beyond the burritos, there are some chip n’dip options to round out the meal. The Sombrero ($2.99) has an irresistible name. It’s a package of Oh! Tortilla chips and a biggie ramekin of warm cheese dip that’s heavy on the cream cheese (it’s several steps above CheezWiz) and sports chunks of salsa. Alas, it doesn’t involve a hat, but it still fills a junk food void.

There’s another option on the menu, the Mega Mamma Challenge ($18.99). It’s a burrito with no menu description, so you have to ask about it. The thing weighs in at five pounds. Challengers have 20 minutes to finish it, and those who successfully clean their plates get their money back and a t-shirt.

And probably intestinal trauma.

The newest location of Big Mamma’s Burritos is just north of Grandview Heights in the Fifth by Northwest neighborhood. It’s located at 1359 Grandview Avenue on the main drag. Big Mamma’s is open daily for lunch, dinner and late night.

For more information, visit www.bigmammasburritos.com.

Photos by Walker Evans.

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