Who would’ve thought that Lexington, KY would be the hub of one of the best burritos in the US? I sure wouldn’t! But, Anna Barry-Jester spent timeless hours researching and trying many burritos around the US to find the best of the best. Taco Bell doesn’t stand a chance to Tortillería y Taquería Ramírez. In Barry-Jester’s blog, she explains the history of the restaurant. It started out as a small grocery store that sold homemade tortillas and other typical Mexican items in the once Mexican culture-barren Lexington. And now it has manifested into a simple restaurant with simple booths but amazing Mexican food that leaves some thinking they are in Mexico rather than Mexington. But, Anna Barry-Jester goes on to say that while Tortillería y Taquería Ramírez did not receive the number 1 title, it was close, “some of my fondest memories of the first 64 burritos were born in a tortilla shop in Lexington, Kentucky” (Barry-Jester, Anna Maria). After hearing about all of the great things that Anna had to say about Tortillería y Taquería Ramírez and the many restaurant reviews and picture that I had seen in class, I was anxious to have my own experience of the great burrito of Señora Ramírez!
My friend, Conner and I pulled up to an older strip mall which housed a few other stores as well as the hidden gem, nestled right off of the busy Versailles Road. Mexington, as referred to by locals, offers a glimpse of rich Mexican culture in central Kentucky.
To a visitor, the ordering process was confusing. Sit down first? Order first? we didn’t know. So, we asked an employee what to do. He knew by our anxious smiles and our uncertain look that we were new to Tortillería y Taquería Ramírez . He was very friendly and helped us maneuver our way through their menu. He was actually Señora Ramírez’s son. I talked to him about his mom and my class (WRD 422), which brought me to do some unconventional taco tasting research.
After some questions about their menu, my friend and I were ready to order. I wanted to try a little bit of everything so I wouldn’t miss out. The menu was simple and easy to read, but we wanted to make sure of what we were ordering.
I ordered a chicken burrito, two tacos- lengua (cow tongue) and pastor (pork with a special sauce)- and a chorizo and beef sope (left) and my friend ordered a steak burrito, and two tacos- chicharron (pork rinds) and carnitas (pork) (right).
We then took our place at an empty booth and waited patiently. We could see the top of the chef’s head working behind the counter, and on the opposite side cutting up fresh tomatoes with homemade tortillas in stacks all around her. Before we knew it, Señora Ramírez’s son brought us our much-anticipated food. The food was all situated on a plain white plate like a canvas and the colorful art does the talking. The famous burrito came filled with chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, avocado, jalapenos in a warm and soft flour tortilla holding all the pieces together. The first bite I had was surprising- a good surpise. The juicy chicken was complimented by the jalopenos, whose spice was cooled down by the sour cream and then all contained by the delicate tortilla. I understand why it this place is ranked highly by Anna Barry-Jester.
The two tacos sat side by side, simply dressed with cilantro, onions, and the meat all atop a yellow corn tortilla and then a fresh lime to squeeze. The lengua taco was more of an adventure for me. I figured since I was there, why not have something I don’t eat everyday and because YOTTCO (you only take taco class once). It wasn’t my favorite-I think my real problem was imagining the Chick-fil-a cow commercials and couldn’t get the image of a cow tongue out of my head. The meat was tough and chewy. But, the pastor taco made it up to my taste buds. It was so good!! The pork was very well seasoned, not too spicy, not too bland-just right! My friend, Conner’s, tacos (chicharron and carnitas) were laid out similar to mine. The carnitas had a lot of juice from the flavor which ran over the tortilla and onto the plate; the chicharron had a deep orangey red color. The chicharron was his adventurous taco. It was not what either of us expected. It was pieces of pork rinds soaked in a liquid, so they were soggy and flimsy. But the carnitas had a great juicy flavor which could be physically seen by the juice sneaking out onto the plate once the tortilla absorbed its max fill amount.
The third and final item on my plate was a sope, which I would compare to an open-faced burrito. Senora Ramirez’s son helped me out on this tough choice when I was ordering. He recommended his favorite, a mixture of chorizo and beef, accompanied with beans, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream, all atop a thicker corn tortilla, stacked like a house. I really enjoyed the sope! I had never heard of it before and I thought it was very tasty! I hadn’t had chorizo since I was in Argentina and it was as good as I remember it! The corn tortilla on the bottom supported all the flavors well and made for a great foundation. I also had a refreshing grapefruit Jarritos that accompanied the flavorful meal! I thought the top of the glass bottle summed up my meal pretty well- Que buenos son? I felt almost as if I really was in Mexico!
I think that future guests at Tortillería y Taquería Ramírez should try something that you normally wouldn’t have. For me, it was the beef tongue taco. I wasn’t a big fan, but who knows- you could love it! You never really know if you like it or not if you never try it. It’s a part of the experience. I wish I would’ve bought some tortillas (that they make in house daily) home to share with my friends because 1. they were absolutely delicious dn 2. they were so cheap!! I would also recommend the pastor in any form- so very tasty!! And for the burrito, I loved the chicken! It was so moist and juicy (craving it right now as I am finishing this 🙂 ). I would totally recommend Tortillería y Taquería Ramírez to anyone! It is a nice change of pace from the typical and mundane Qdoba, Taco Bell or any other Mexican chain restaurant and I hope to visit again soon!