If you have ever taken a stroll in uptown Athens, you’re well aware of the multitude of restaurants that line Court Street. Pizza, wings and subs are all viable options for a hungry Ohio University student. However, few foods are as satisfying as a giant, flavorful burrito. With Chipotle, Big Mamma’s Burritos and the Burrito Buggy all within walking distance, which eatery is the best? Take a look at the breakdown of each establishment and decide for yourself.
BIG MAMMA’S BURRITOS
This local burrito joint is a favorite among Athenians. Big Mamma’s has graced Court Street for over seven years, serving customers from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily. Unlike some other uptown eateries, there is only one location and they have no plans to build another any time soon.
This restaurant boasts two sizes of burrito– regular and baby. Although weight-conscious students may opt for the smaller option, “the teeniest little girls will get a regular and I wonder where they’re going to put it,” said store manager Sarah Cecil. According to Cecil, the later hours of the night are correlated with larger burrito orders (I wonder why…). The most popular item sold is the Chipotle Ranch burrito, which is highlighted front and center on the menu.
Speaking of menu…in the handful of times I’ve entered this establishment, I have never bothered to look past the front page. As shocking as this may be, there is actually a back side to Big Mamma’s menu. Salad, chips and dip and vegetarian alternatives are plentiful. Price-wise, you can throw down as little as $1.49 for chips and dip or spend up to $16.99 for the Mega Mama Challenge. Baby burritos cost $3.75 while regular burritos cost $5.99. Depending on your appetite, you can create a well-priced snack or dinner.
As any Court Street-goer knows, Big Mamma’s generally looks packed after 10 p.m. However, don’t let this deter you from your important burrito-hunting mission. The staff at Big Mamma’s agrees that many people will linger after receiving their order, basking in the awesomeness of freshly broken aluminum foil and the first bite of a midnight burrito fix. “When the bars close, you go to Big Mamma’s. It’s just a friendly place to get your end-of-the-night snack,” said Ohio University junior Andrew Winter.
If you’re a fan of Twitter, I suggest you follow @shitmammasays. This page is filled with quotes from both customers and staff of Big Mamma’s.
The award they deserve: Best Late-Night Burrito
Have you ever seen a Chipotle commercial on TV? Seriously, take a minute to think about it… and the answer will probably be “no.” According to Mary Seymour, kitchen manager at the Athens Chipotle, this is because the company is more concerned with promoting their business through word of mouth. They want to be known because they have great food, not great advertisers. The first Chipotle was founded in 1993 by Steve Ells. Eventually, this restaurant took off and became the nationwide burrito-making wonder that it is today.
The set-up at Chipotle is slightly different than at the other burrito makers in Athens. It has a “build-your-own” style which allows each customer to dictate exactly how much and which type of toppings they want in their food. The typical options are burritos, burrito bowls, salads and tacos, but they have chips as well. The price is determined by which type of meat the customer gets and if any “extras” are included. The typical price for a burrito is $6.65.
Since Chipotle has multiple locations, many students come to college already addicted to the cuisine. Ohio University junior Phoebe Larkin eats at Chipotle multiple times a week. With a busy schedule, stopping at Chipotle is convenient for a fast, filling meal. One aspect of this restaurant that young adults frequently comment on is the early closing time. The doors shut at 10 p.m. nightly. “If they had Chipotle open late at night, I would be so fat it’d be ridiculous,” Larkin said.
Unlike other restaurants that may try to hide calorie content, Chipotle provides a nutrition calculator online so customers can track the caloric cost of a filling meal. If you have never been to www.chipotle.com, you should definitely check it out. Not only does it have a calorie counter, but it tells the entire story of Chipotle and their motto of “Food With Integrity.” You can order and pay online, as well.
The award they deserve: Best Overall Burrito
“In Athens, it’s an icon.”
The feelings of Jacqie Weber, Director of Donor Relations and a ’96 graduate of Ohio University, are shared by many in the Athens community. The family-owned Burrito Buggy was established in 1984 and is considered an integral part of Court Street’s cuisine.
Unlike Big Mamma’s and Chipotle, this establishment is not located in a building– it’s mobile. “Since the 80s, there’s been a tradition of food trucks [in Athens] and we’re trying to keep that alive,” said Burrito Buggy employee Angelica Whims. This mobility factor makes it easy for local businesses to bring these delectable dishes to company events. Additionally, the Burrito Buggy regularly makes visits to the PawPaw Festival, Number Fests, county fairs and some Ohio University-sponsored events. “If someone wants us at a wedding, we’d definitely be there,” added Whims.
While there is not much variation in size among these burritos, they are all similarly priced from around $5.25 to $6.00. The most popular option is the Supreme Burrito, which has so many options for fillings that it’s easy to personalize. If you’re opposed to consuming animal products, the Burrito Buggy is the only vegan-friendly option on this list. “Personally, I think we should advertise a bit more that the Burrito Buggy can cater to vegetarians and vegans,” said Whims.
This burrito cart is well-known by more than just the after-hours binge-eater. The crowd at the Buggy varies with the time. Alumni and locals are frequent customers during the day, while students are the primary consumers during dinner and late-night hours. The Buggy generally opens around 11 a.m. and closes around 3 a.m.
The Burrito Buggy has a Facebook page and Twitter (@burritobuggy) as well as merchandise you can buy. Hand-crafted Burrito Buggy mugs will be on the market soon, too.
The award they deserve: The “Athens” Burrito