Who says you can't go back? Zantigo's chilito

We were seniors in high school working nights selling magazine subscriptions over the phone. Our afternoon commute included a walk through Brookdale Mall where Zantigo lured us to eat the cheapest tastiest dinner available. For less than a buck we could dine on a warm flour tortillas rolled around gooey cheese and hot sauce. It was filling and luscious, with enough heat to satisfy a Minnesotan teen before she discovered chili peppers, Thai food, and hot sauce.

Something about that tortilla always satisfied me. It tasted, in a really really good way, like the frozen burritos my dad fried in butter on his well-seasoned cast iron pan. Those butter burritos were a staple on the weekends when I visited him in his smoky apartment, and a sentimental taste that I've only ever experienced in Dad's apartment and at Zantigo.

Zantigo slowly faded from our fast-food scene here in the Twin Cities, replaced by Chipotle, Qdoba and burger joints. Whenever I discover we are within range of one the remaining "authentic Mexican American cuisine" stands, I am helpless and require immediate sustenance.

It has been a few years since my last Zantigo spotting. Earlier this week when we saw the highway signs directing us to a local strip mall I noted the familiar mustached, sombrero-sporting Zantigo spokesmodel and my taste buds tingled. We had no plans for dinner even though it was well past eating hour. Chilito heaven awaited.

These days the chilito comes in two varieties: mild and hot. Mild is described as: our soft, flour torilla painted with our famous mild red chili sauce, covered with shredded cheese. And hot: our soft, flour tortilla painted with our hot and spicy green chili sauce, covered with shredded cheese. I ordered a hot chilito and grabbed a handful of hot sauce. Zantigo hot sauce is a unique and appealing vinegary concoction with just a hint of heat. Biting into the chilito was every bit as wonderful as I remember. The soft and warm flour tortilla, the indefinable yet pleasant cheese, and the sharp sauce meld into the bites that lured me as a teenager. Next time I'll order two.

Various locations
Price: about $1.69 plus tax (and did I mentioned I'll order two next time?)


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