The only thing that changed when Z-Grille became Zurritos – besides the name, I guess — was the menu. It’s still the same casual, relaxed restaurant staffed by attractive thirty-somethings (I’d call them hipsters, but that always gets people in trouble). Owner Zack Gross might be edging out of that range, but the tattooed chef still looks the part. And he’s not giving up on the Z-Grille name.
Theat moniker has been transferred to his new place, just down the street in the new Signature Place condos. Z-Grille — opening today (Friday, Nov. 7) — is just like the old spot, but amped up with fancier décor and an expanded and more refined menu that still manages to stick with Gross’ Baja-Mex focus.
But with the opening of the new Z-Grille, Gross is going to be busy. That — along with the economy — had him create Zurritos to be cheap and easy. Nothing over $10. And, in classic quick-Mex tradition, it’s all based on the same meat, rice and salsa combined in different ways.
The focus at Zurritos is on burritos, built around Gross’ lightly fried fish (there are no fish tacos at the new Z-Grille, so this is your only chance for those old favorites) or slow-cooked beef and pork that’s chunked into the wrap and shreds easily under your teeth, like well-seasoned pot roast. The other fixin’s are good too, although I’d rather have more herbaceous burst than that provided by Zurritos’ bland cilantro oil. Fresh is best, and would give those girthy six inchers a little more oomph.
There’s also bean dip that’s like a salt lick, saved only by decadently rich queso ladled on top, or you can just skip the sodium and order the queso separately. That same cheesy sauce elevates faux-enchiladas that are essentially just burritos crisped in the oven.
Guac is tasty and fresh, and salsas start at a tomatoey mild and hike quickly up the heat scale; medium will sear your tongue more than you might expect.
The new menu fits the place, almost better than the old did. I can still order excellent beer, listen to a playlist that alternates between old-school hip-hop and reggae, and either sit on the sidewalk watching Central Avenue go by while I eat my cheap eats or watch the new flat screens inside.
And, if I want more, I can just walk down the street to the new Z-Grille.