Rita’s Burritos Offers Family Recipes, Savory Meats - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Rita’s Burritos Offers Family Recipes, Savory Meats

November 6th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Rita’s Burritos Offers Family Recipes, Savory Meats

By Colleen Sparks

Managing Editor

Some Mexican restaurants like to smother meats and vegetables in guacamole and sour cream, but that’s not how the owners of Rita’s Burritos roll.

The family-owned restaurant that opened in December 2015 on South Arizona Avenue just south of Ocotillo Road keeps its menu simple with the flavor of its meat and its house-made, hand-rolled tortillas.

“It’s not a giant, taco shop burrito,” said co-owner Darcie Meraz. “They’re full of slow-cooked, flavorful meat. They’re family recipes in the style Gilbert grew up eating,” she added, referring to her husband, Gilbert Meraz.

Co-owners Gilbert and Darcie live in Chandler while the third owner of Rita’s Burrito – Mario Meraz, Gilbert’s brother – lives in El Paso, Texas, where Gilbert grew up and enjoyed his mother’s and grandmother’s Mexican cooking.

Darcie has worked in the restaurant industry since 1990, and Gilbert has worked in the restaurant business since 1994. Mario is an accountant and handles the financial side.

Many of the extensive burritos, suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner, feature meat and Muenster cheese, but they do not come with guacamole, avocado, sour cream or pico de gallo, which are frequently found at other fast-casual Mexican restaurants.

“We grew up with the Muenster cheese,” Gilbert said. “It’s so good; it’s not greasy. They’re very traditional Mexican options.”

The red chile brisket burrito features brisket cooked overnight in New Mexico red chile. The well-liked barbacoa burrito contains shredded beef with cilantro and onions on top.

A popular burrito for lunch at the Ocotillo eatery is the chile verde one with pork braised overnight in a green tomatillo and jalapeno sauce. Customers also love the carne asada burrito with marinated beef steak.

“My vision was to have a menu that was very unique,” Gilbert said.

The burritos are served in homemade, hand-rolled, ten-and-a-half-inch flour tortillas and made at the restaurant, and the breakfast burritos are served all day. The two wraps are the only items on the menu not homemade in the restaurant. Rita’s Burritos does not offer combination meals or chips and salsa as a dish, but customers can order corn a la Ocotillo, beans and cheese alone and a quesadilla, which is Muenster cheese in a tortilla, as sides.

The corn a la Ocotillo is buttered with mayonnaise, Mexican cheese, chili powder and hot sauce. The items on the menu range in price from $1.50 to $6.50 each with many at about $4.

Those who want to spice things up can try the chile relleno burrito with a roasted green Anaheim pepper, lightly toasted and egg-battered, stuffed with Muenster cheese, deep fried with refried beans in it.

Chicken fans could order the mole burrito with roasted, shredded chicken in a mole sauce Darcie described as “earthy” and “savory” like a “dry chocolate.”

Anyone seeking protein without meat can order a bean and cheese burrito with refried beans and Muenster cheese for $2. Many people like to buy numerous bean and cheese burritos to feed children on soccer teams, Darcie and Gilbert said.

For breakfast, a bacon and hash burrito has scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns, while the breakfast barbacoa offers eggs, shredded beef, cilantro and onions. The chorizo and hash burrito offers scrambled eggs, homemade chorizo and hash browns.

Health-conscious items include a wrap with sliced turkey, fresh spinach, feta cheese, candied walnuts, hummus and Craisins in a vegetable tortilla, for $6.

The Fit Wrap contains egg whites, sliced turkey, bacon, spinach and brown rice in a whole-grain tortilla for $6.50. Darcie and Gilbert said they came up with that item in honor of a friend who owns Fit Society, a nearby gym where they are members.

They said the Fit Wrap is “very balanced” and “health conscious” with the right amount of fat and proteins.

The Ocotillo Friends group helped publicize Rita’s Burritos opening prior to its launch. The restaurant was so busy, it ran out of food its first day, Darcie said.

Many people have praised Rita’s Burritos online.

Jenta DePonti Leija said on Facebook’s Living Chandler page that she and her husband, Javier Leija, love the restaurant.

“My husband says it’s as authentic as you can get,” DePonti Leija posted. “Closest thing to his mom’s homemade burritos.”

Susanna Orozco Rios wrote, “Only burrito in town that isn’t loaded with grease. Tortillas are spot on. Puffy pillows of goodness. Just like mine. Excellent customer service. We’re so lucky to have them two miles away.”

Cecil Walker raved, “Not only the best burritos and amazingly low prices, but also a local company that really supports the community. Huge pride of ownership shows in everything they do.”

Rita’s Burritos caters parties, business events and other gatherings. The restaurant also helps schools and sports teams by contributing a portion of the revenue from sales on certain days. Rita’s hosted a blood drive and lemonade stand to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“We do love the community feel and the family-oriented environment,” in Chandler, Gilbert said. “Everyone supports each other.”

He and Darcie also like to give their employees time to spend with their families, so Rita’s is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. The restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Rita’s plans to open another location in El Paso in February and eventually would like to open one or two more restaurants in Gilbert or Queen Creek eventually. The restaurant is located at 4040 S. Arizona Ave., Suite 17, in the Fulton Ranch Towne Center.



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