What freaks me out is the number of people who are always at grocery stores—yoga-practitioner early—for breakfast. Don’t they know they can stay naked if they eat at home? Haven’t they noticed the many food carts and restaurants that dish up high-quality breakfast burritos? Why would anyone get dressed and leave home early enough to eat before work and then turn to a pile of mass-produced burritos nestled in a heating tray or, worse, sold cold and wrapped in plastic?
But then I started wondering if they—these grocery-store breakfast people—were on to something. Food carts and restaurants don’t typically stock wholesome juice or a selection of fruits and yogurts to accompany one’s breakfast burrito. I mean, it’s fundamentally anti-American, but sometimes a banana is better than bacon.
An experiment was in order.
I targeted grocery store breakfasts easily accessible to me during Bike To Work Week and systematically sampled their offerings.
At Sunflower Farmers Market, there are no hot burritos on offer, but there is a microwave toward the front of the store available for customer use. I chose a burrito, presumably made fresh in the morning by deli staff, that claimed to include “flour tortilla, eggs, cheddar, jack cheese, potato and spice.”
The first thing I noticed was that my burrito secretly contained bacon. Depending on your outlook, this bit of mislabeling might be a special bonus, inconvenient or a crime against nature. The bacon may have been included in lieu of “spice” because the thing tasted like a wad of paper towels. Fortunately, the $3.49 price included a little tub of smoky, tolerable salsa that allowed me to eat nearly 25 percent of the burrito before surrendering.
At Kaune’s Neighborhood Market, burritos are provided by, well, The Providers, a Santa Fe-based prepared-foods outfit. I tried a burrito similar to the one I’d had at Sunflower—prepackaged and plastic-wrapped basic ingredient—but with the upped ante of onion, bell pepper, garlic and green chile. No salsa was included and no microwave is stashed away at Kaune’s, but I’d rather eat this $2.99 burrito cold than revisit the flaccid offering from Sunflower.
Whole Foods Market always has a hot tray of what it calls “breakfast tacos.” In reality, these are small burritos, available with or without bacon, for $1.49. Despite the diminutive size, this is a good deal. These pocket-sized wonders leave room for the banana benefit of grocery breakfasts and allow more portioning finesse in general. Two breakfast tacos should be plenty for anyone and still ring in at $2.98. The trick is to remember to scoop up a free helping of warm red or green chile from the “breakfast bar.” Otherwise, you’ll be sad and parched.
At La Montañita Co-op, a full breakfast burrito with bacon costs $3.99, but the bacon is thick, slabby Beeler’s that’s a far sight better than your average burrito filling. There are three other burritos on offer every morning at $3.49 each: cheese, veggie and vegan. The vegan, fortunately, is not the empty tortilla of my meat-loving imagination, but rather a tasty tube of potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and tofu seasoned with curry, cumin, sea salt and black pepper. It is eerily delicious. If I could substitute the bell peppers for actual eggs, I’d start waking up early, getting dressed and grabbing breakfast at the co-op.
But the best thing about breakfast at the grocery store is that you can buy all the ingredients necessary to go home and make your own—naked.
Follow SFR food news on Twitter: @eating_wrong