Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill

To lower our average daily food expenditure after last night’s extravagant outing, we took a trip to the nearest Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill, a Southern California fast-food chain that boasts of its “fresh, natural and organic ingredients.” It sounds healthy, but what we found is worth mentioning only as a warning to those who might be lured in by the chain’s progressive-sounding “philosophy.” The vegetarian chorizo burrito, a special offered on “Spicy Thursday,” was appallingly heavy, the tortilla wrap browned, as though fried, and the rice similarly treated, although it was hard to tell, since the filling, which also included pinto beans and sour cream, formed an indistinguishable glop. To make matters worse, the burrito, served on a paper sheet in a plastic tray, was too messy to pick up and yet impossible to cut into pieces without also picking up (and involuntarily eating) bits of wet paper. Our other order, a tostada, came with chicken on the first try, despite our instructions. On the second round, it proved to be a bland salad with flavorless dressing mixed with beans, rice, and sour cream in a greasy, inedible corn chip bowl. People looking for an inexpensive, vegetarian-friendly Cal-Mex fast-food option need not despair, however. In leaner years, we were on the Chipotle meal plan, showing up nearly every day for a rice-and-beans burrito with guacamole and pico de gallo. It was simple, satisfying, and nutritious, and if money is tight, you could do a lot worse, as our experience tonight grimly demonstrates.

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