128 Commack Rd. Commack, NY 631-462-3030
Mexican grill serving quesadillas, burritos and tacos.Hours: Mon.-Sat.: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun.: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
A Tex-Mex eatery is only as good as its pico de gallo, that versatile mixture of chopped tomato, onion, chiles, lime and cilantro. It's a condiment that's as at home atop a quesadilla as it is tucked into a fajita. Show me a salsa bar where the pico de gallo contains pale, flavorless tomatoes, and I've already got one foot out the door.
At Burrito Loco, an unassuming little order-at-the counter Tex-Mex grill in Commack, I encountered chopped tomatoes that were a deep crimson, intensely sweet and firm, the mixture flecked with emerald cilantro leaves. I must have eaten a pint of the stuff on nachos meant to tide me over while my order was being readied.
That order came quickly on two visits but way too slowly on the third. In the end, though, it was worth waiting for the tacos, burritos, wraps, quesadillas and fajitas that ultimately arrived.
The soups we got, however, were another story. The black bean soup was watery and bland, as was the tortilla soup, which a friend described as chicken broth with Doritos. Even worse, everything was served in plastic takeout containers.
Yet the same open kitchen produced some commendable fish soft-corn tacos, filled with fried red snapper and topped with shredded cabbage, fresh tomato salsa and a chipotle mayonnaise dressing. Shrimp tacos were just as appealing, the plump shellfish grilled just right. There were also plenty of shrimp in a simple quesadilla topped with guacamole and pico de gallo.
I ordered steak in both a fajita burrito (which also had mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, guacamole and Jack cheese) and a fajita platter (sliced steak with the same ingredients, plus rice, beans and tortillas on the side). Both treatments were winning ones, thanks to well-marinated, juicy, tender meat. A burrito "loco," ordered with beef chili, included a blend of onions, sour cream, Jack cheese and fresh tomato salsa. A messy but flavorsome confluence.
Because it was such a hit the first time I tried it, I ordered the "Cozumel" wrap on a subsequent visit, opting for a whole-wheat instead of a white-flour tortilla. Inside was grilled marinated chicken breast, roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms and onions, jalapeAos, avocado and chipotle mayo. It was a huge amount of food, and entirely satisfying.
As we were leaving, a young man dining alone at a nearby table looked up and declared that he could eat at this place every night. "In fact," he went on, "they'd have to use a flaming sword to keep me away."
Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 9/24/07.
THE TACOS At this friendly counter-service spot, soft corn tacos filled with seafood reign. Try the fish tacos with fried red snapper, shredded cabbage, fresh tomato salsa and a chipotle mayonnaise dressing. Shrimp tacos feature nicely grilled crustaceans. ($1.69 to $2.99 each.)