Moe’s Southwest Grill, a predictable Tex-Mex chain restaurant at 46 Whitney Avenue, is one of over 400 locations nation-wide that serves cheap, fresh varieties of southwestern favorites. The food is decent and inexpensive — all menu options are under $10. But Moe’s may face tough competition from closer options for students wanting to satisfy their burrito fix at lunch. And with shorter hours than Bulldog Burrito — Moe’s is open from 11 AM to 9 PM on weekdays and 12 to 9 PM on weekends — it will lose out on hungry students on central campus looking for late-night eats.
Menu items have fun, if contrived, names like “homewrecker,” “instant friend” and “the funk meister.” Tortilla chips, which come free with every meal, are fried fresh and served crisp with five different types of salsas, only one — the medium spicy red — of which is worth mentioning. Flour tortillas are steamed before being overstuffed with numerous add-ins in trays turned over every three to four hours for freshness: rice, black or pinto beans, shredded cheese, grilled chicken and steak, ground beef, pulled pork, onions, lettuce, cilantro, olives and pico de gallo, among other options. The burritos and tacos ordered tasted noticeably similar, despite numerous possible permutations of fillings. The steak was over-salted, and the pork left something to be desired. The guacamole and the queso were both passable, but the cheese sauce became a frightening coagulum when cold. The quesadillas — filled with chicken, pinto beans and shredded cheese — were simple, but delicious. Moe-ritas are about $6 each. Beer costs around $3 per bottle for domestic brews and around $4 for Mexican imports such as XX, Corona and even Tecate and Modelo — a nice touch.
The atmosphere is friendly and casual: the staff is welcoming and the interior is bright and clean, featuring an on-the-border motif heavy on yellows, greens, oranges and reds — the colors of chili peppers. Wall posters of corn stalks and guitars sport witty catchphrases from the cutesy (“a soft taco is like a hard taco, only more emotional”) to the existential (“a burrito is like life: a well-hidden mess”). The television is tuned to a Spanish channel, perhaps in an effort to retain a semblance of authenticity in the face of a largely gringo clientele.
Above the kitchen at Moe’s reads the slogan: “Moe’s knows burritos!” But with its location far from central campus, two competitive burrito carts on York St., and Bulldog Burrito on Broadway, that may not even matter.