Friday, March 19, 2010

Las Islitas--Sunnyvale, CA

I first ate at this location nearly 15 years ago, when it was Hot N Mild. Walking in that first time, I would never have guessed that my favorite burritos would be made in this unassuming restaurant in a 7-Eleven strip mall. I was swept away by their chicken burrito so much that I ate yet another and still left wanting more. The size of the burrito couldn’t be blamed for the fact that I was still hungry. It was so large it felt like a small baby in my hands. Rather, it was that the burrito was plain delicious, a result of the restaurant preparing each of the components well. The chicken was a dark meat that was extraordinarily tender. There was enough salsa for flavor but not so much as to make the burrito soupy. The wrap itself was heated on the grill, assuring the burrito would stay warm, even if brought all the way home. But the secret, I believe, was that hot, fluffy, moist Spanish rice. The rice set the tone for the entire burrito. After all, there was more of it by mass than any other element except perhaps the tortilla. I was so taken by their food that I ate there at least once a week for years on end. They knew me so well I often got the second burrito free or at half price.

Due to time constraints at work and obligations in my personal life, until yesterday it had been more a year since I last ate there. Hot N Mild a few years ago became Las Islitas. The name had changed but the faces at the grill and behind the register were the same. When I stopped by yesterday, though, the name was still Las Islitas but I didn’t recognize a single soul. What has survived, however, is that recipe for the perfect chicken burrito. I made the order to go and, when I got to my desk at work more than fifteen minutes later, it was still hot, seemingly fresh off the grill. And, after all these years it was still the delight I knew so well. It made me think maybe you can come home after all.

Las Islitas
848 East Evelyn Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086-6528
(408) 746-9172