This executive was scared. You could tell in the way he fidgeted,
eyes darting around the room, hands unfolding and squeezing the
packets of taco sauce right to the point of breaking. I haven't seen
a suit look this discombobulated since the last time the teamsters
held their annual conference in town.
I'm a private dick. A private dick one step away from unemployment.
That's why I let him talk.
What he wanted was simple. He had blown his family savings setting
up a Burrito Bell just a block yonder. Everything
was peaches and cream until Boca Grande opened. His counter used to
be as busy as a confessional the day after Madi Gras, but since this
little burrito stand had opened its doors, the lines had dried up
quicker than an ice cube in the Sahara. That's where I came in. He
wanted the skinny on the Grande.
So I made my way across the Longfellow Bridge, heading in the
direction of the Lotus Building and the Republic of Cambridge. There
Boca Grande stood, yellow and orange and very out of place on First
Street in Cambridge. It was about noon and I noticed a steady stream
of people coming and going. I decided to take the plunge.
At first look, the place is unimpressive. Cramped, with one cash
register located at the front of the kitchen and people jammed
together ordering or waiting for food, is the only way I could
descibe it. The makings for tacos and burritos are spread out next
to the cash register. People were eating at a stand up counter next
to the window or on the second floor, which had tables and chairs for
about 15 people. I was unimpressed.
But atmosphere doesn't satisfy an empty stomach. I walked to the
counter and watched. The menu consisted of traditional Tex-Mex fair.
Nothing shocking. You could get your tacos, burritos or quesadillas
with beans, grilled vegetables, chicken, beef or pork. And that's
where the similarities ended. The burritos, which can be bought
regular or Grande (hence the name) are stacked with rice, beans, sour
cream, tomato, onions, guacamole and cheese. The burritos are
enormous and cheap. For $3.68, I got a great meal. There are also
half or quarter chickens cooked in Mexican spices, out-of-this world
homemade salsa, killer hot sauce and soup.
I can see why the Bell ain't ringing. Boca was cheap and served some
of the best and heartiest Tex-Mex I have had since my days as a
cabana boy in Cancun.
The FitzGerald locals
filled me in on the legend of Boca. According
to the elders, the great Boca saved their amigos from a horrible
famine. To pay homage to the Grande goddess, the workers feast at
Boca on a daily basis. The mere thought of the Bell is considered a
mortal sin in their culture.
It didn't take long for the FitzGerald ranchers to catch on that I
was working for the competition. Looks hardened like a day-old burrito.
My gut was craving another Boca and it also told me to get the heck
out of Dodge.
I made my run for the border and let my client in on the legend of
Boca. He wasn't happy, but hey, that's lunch in the big city.
(All references to Burrito Bell are fictional and any resemblance to
real establishments are purely coincidental.
The story is false but the Bocas are not. This is truly great
stuff and worth the trip.)