Today’s installment of gas-station dining brings me to burritos.
You’ll find them at TacoRico, a taqueria tucked into the back corner of a Shell station in Milton.
The suggestion came from reader Maria Lopez, who wrote, “They have the best tacos, best carne asada fries, and I think little places, such as this little hidden gem, are worth writing about.”
Never miss a local story.
I’m with you, Maria.
I’ve never been one to shy from a gas station find. My last discovery was Infinium Stop at a 76 Station by Tacoma Community College. The convenience store deli offers an interesting menu of fairly priced gyro and falafel platters gussied up with house-made tahini and hummus sauces. That fast-food Mediterranean menu is served right alongside typical deli fried chicken.
I took my taco-lovin’ self to TacoRico, and I hit the taqueria jackpot when I spotted the bacon burrito stuffed with a ratio of filling that favored meat.
Maricela Surita and husband Beto Garcia opened the gas-station restaurant in September 2015. Garcia worked in the kitchen at Mama Stortini’s for 10 years, but he wanted his own restaurant.
He once worked at the car wash at that very gas station, years before it had a cafe space (it previously churned out sandwiches, and then tacos). The couple had another connection to the area. While visiting Garcia’s brother in Edgewood, they noted the gas-station restaurant space was available. The owner, Surita said, took a chance on them.
“We were not financially in the right place, but we spent everything we had saved up and just went for it,” she said.
They opened with a simple menu of tacos and fast-food style taqueria fare. They continually add to the menu. Look for the specials menu or the signs tacked below the menu for what’s new. There are taco plates ($6 to $10), torta sandwiches ($6.99), nachos ($7.75), fajita plates ($12.99), huevos ranchero ($7.99) and more.
The bacon-wrapped burrito idea came three months after they opened and now is a menu staple.
The Rico Burrito is modeled after what Garcia grew up eating.
“His mom used to make him burritos like that in Mexico with bacon and carne asada,” said Surita.
Her idea was to bring the bacon to the outside.
“My favorite thing ever is bacon-wrapped jalapenos and I thought, ‘Let’s do the bacon outside.’ We made it for ourselves and loved it,” she said.
It took a few tries to get it right. They found if they removed the burrito too quickly from the grill, it left the tortilla soggy and the bacon floppy. The trick was to grill the burrito until the innards turned hot and melty, but without allowing the bacon to burn. That’s why it takes 10-15 minutes to cook.
What arrived on my visit was perfectly cooked with the smoky bacon jacketed tightly around the tortilla. The rendered bacon fat served a dual purpose on Garcia’s grill. It intensified the flavor of that tortilla, but also turned it flaky. I’m a sucker for a grilled burrito. The bacon was just a tasty bonus.
This is a fork-and-knife burrito, obviously. It’s $10.50 and comes topped with half a sliced avocado. Inside, get any meat you want, but Surita and Garcia recommend carne asada. Beans and rice finish the burrito, along with a channel of sour cream and cheese.
The adjacent seating area is cute with cheery vinyl tablecloths atop the four tables. There’s room for about 18.
Be careful with the squeeze bottles of salsa. Verde was delicious with manageable heat, but the red sauce packed a Defcon Level Help Me spicing.
Drinks are available for purchase from the adjacent convenience store.
Where: 524 Meridian E., Milton
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Contact: 253-719-8938; facebook.com/TacoRicoMiltonWa