Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Tijuana Flats Burrit

Posted on Wed, Jul 11, 2001 at 4:00 AM

What can you say about a restaurant that makes a hot sauce called "Smack My Ass and Call me Sally"? When it's a successful, locally-birthed chain like Tijuana Flats, I guess you grab your burrito and assume the position.

If you've already attained that grand and potentially jobless title of "graduate", Tijuana Flats will take you right back to your sophomore days in college; just knowledgeable enough to be relaxed and too stupid to know your carefree days are numbered (if you are still a sophomore, my deepest sympathies). And as we all know, a major contributor to that blissful condition is massive quantities of soul-burning hot sauce.

As I said, Tijuana Flats markets their own line of pepper sauces with the label "Smack My Ass", but they carry more than 200 others, including " Don't Be Chicken Sh!t", "Great Bowels of Fire", "Crazy Jerry's Mustard Gas" and "Endorphin Rush" ("Experience the sensation that you would get by hitting your thumb with a hammer"... mmm, where do I sign up?). There's a lot of emphasis on posteriors -- ass is a big favorite, butt a close second -- and there's also some interesting variations on the pepper theme, like Thai garlic pepper sauce, Georgia peach Vidalia onion and three pepper lemon.

Owner Brian Wheeler came up with the idea for the restaurants while still a student at UCF and opened his first in Winter Park in 1995. Now there's 6, including one in Jacksonville, with more on the way. He's one of the largest hot sauce distributors in the Southeast, and the restaurants claim to use nothing frozen or microwaved.

Built along the lines of a hip cafeteria -- order, wait, sit down with the tray -- the new downtown location offers a view of Heritage Square and the library at either indoor or outdoor tables. Don't look for anything out of the ordinary on the menu; burritos rule the day. What you're getting here is basic Tex-Mex, something to stuff meat and beans in and pour some "Heinie Hurtin' Hot Sauce" on. The chicken is okay, usually coated in red sauce and best when combined with cheese and beans like the Tijuana burrito for $4.75. Quesadillas with chicken or beef are griddle cooked instead of fried so the tortilla is crispy rather than greasy ($3.25 to $5.25). The best deal is probably the combos, putting together tacos, burritos and enchiladas for less than 8 bucks.

Along with the fiery condiments are "dressings" like chili, con queso and salsa, and I'd recommend getting one or two because the items by themselves are somehow... the best word is ho-hum, if that's a word. I guess with all that capsicum floating around, you don't really need taste buds anyway. But it's a relatively cheap meal, and for the fire-breathers in the audience, a way to sample some of the world's tastiest torture.

Now who is this Sally and why is she getting smacked?


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