The Macho Burrito

The Macho Burrito

I'm from Seattle. I'm a transplant here in in Los Angeles. Even after having lived here for ten years now (TEN YEARS, how DID that happen???), I have never identified as a Los Angelian. I am frequently homesick for Seattle, even though I know you can never really go home. And I don't want to go home, I don't want to know how much the city I loved is no longer as I remember it, but I DO want to visit just to eat at the Burien Azteca Restaurant, and their sister restaurant, La Costa. Most people don't know that La Costa is owned by the same people that own Azteca, only they wanted to open up a separate restaurant that was more authentic Mexican food. The restaurants are family owned, and while I'd enjoyed their food for years, I became a little more attached to them after I switched gyms to Powerhouse Gym and began competing as a competitive bodybuilding under their name.  Pepe Ramos, the patriarch of the Azteca family, also worked out at Powerhouse. While he wasn't a competitor or a bodybuilder, he so appreciated the efforts the athletes put in to their sport, and he and his restaurant sponsored  many of the competitions, and held the after party at their restaurants. (Which might have just been a lucrative business move just for the sheer fact of having a large group of athletes who have been on a strict AND alcohol free diet for 4 months, and who are free to eat whatever their heart desires for the first time in that 4 months!!!) I was so fond of Pepe, even though we didn't talk a lot. (I still think a traditionally raised Hispanic man had to have a hard time with the whole female competitive bodybuilder thing, I swear I could see him asking himself, "WHY??") but nonetheless, we were all like a big family.  And so I also became friends with his nephew Hector, and daughter in law, Hilda, who both worked out at the gym AND worked at Azteca and sometimes La Costa.  The only bummer was if they knew the contest season diet had started, and I was in the restaurant, they would bust my chops about eating, but I adored them, and Pepe. And so, ten years later, I still miss them AND the food from both restaurants like crazy.

My favorite meal at Azteca was the macho burrito, a giant burrito stuffed with ground beef, beans, and rice, and topped with a happy tomato sauce, shredded iceberg lettuce, and dry cheese.  I remember eating that when I was 16, and I remember eating it shortly before I left Seattle in my late 20's.  So, since I am not going to be visiting my beloved Seattle in the near future, I decided to recreate the Macho burrito.  I think Pepe would shake his head at my efforts, but I think he would be pleased that I STILL think of his food so often.

The Macho Burrito. Stuffed with seasoned ground beef, refried black beans, shredded monterey jack cheese, and tapatio; topped with a spicy jalapeno tomato sauce, freshly shredded iceberg lettuce, sour cream, and queso fresco. And, because I had tortillas in the house, I also made a cheese and tapatio quesadilla, and topped it with avocado and sour cream. Happy!

It doesn't cure my homesickness for Seattle and home, but it does make the world feel just a tiny bit smaller.


(BTW, Hilda is a sweet girl, but once she dared me into eating a whole, fresh jalepeno to prove my badassness.  I totally ate it, who can pass up a dare like that? And that's when I learned, thanks to Hilda, that eating sugar after eating a spicy pepper kills the burn. Beer, on the other hand, hurts. ; )

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