Munchitos is a relatively new restaurant, located on North Walnut Street next to Brothers Bar & Grill and across the street from the Bluebird. It is the space formerly occupied by Greeks Pizzeria. It’s open from 5 pm to 4 am each day; that says a little something about the target customers.
We began our evening with some games of pool at the Vid. Chris won the vast majority of the games, but all of them were very competitive. All this pool playing was exhausting, and we were both ready for some food (and probably some sleep). So where did we could we find a burger at 2 am? Munchitos, of course!
Neither of us knew what to make of Munchitos when we walked through the door. In fact, we probably would never have stopped at Munchito’s had we not been told about the place by Burger Friend Sally. It is a very narrow and long space, and much bigger than either of us expected. It’s a bit of an odd atmosphere, but the late hour may have contributed to that feeling. The hostess/waitress did not look happy to see us, but her reaction was very understandable after listening to some drunk undergrads yell, cry and generally cause a ruckus. We have to give the waitress a lot of credit, because she really did a good job and she warmed up significantly, probably because she soon realized that we were not there to cause problems. We were there for BURGERS.
What can you say about a place named Munchitos? The name itself seems to evoke a late night grease pit, catering to those in a college town feeling hungry after a late night of partying. For the most part, I found it lived up to its description.
Arriving at sometime past 2:00 AM, I was ready for my “fourth meal” as a fast food establish up the road conveniently calls it. Luckily, the menu does not disappoint, offering burger option after burger option.
After perusing the options, I decided to order “The Knight.” The description was just too over the top, so I had to get it. A burger with ham, bacon, and a fried egg? Yes please.
On arrival, the burger looked remarkably good, coming open-faced with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a long slice of pickle. The buns were slightly toasted, a nice touch given the late hour. To accentuate the fact that, yes, I had in fact ordered a burger with two pork products, the bacon sat neatly atop the ham. Lurking below the ham was the egg, which was cooked medium as I was to find out.
One bite in and the yolk poured out the back of the burger. The release was far more limited than the horrific “Yolkexplosion of 2012,” but the yolk mostly ended up in the basket. What yolk remained did leave a rich flavor and added a bit of creaminess to the burger eating experience. Additionally, it was easy enough to dab the yolk puddle in the basket.
The beef was served well cooked, as expected, and was mildly flavorful. It was clear that the patty was not a gourmet, locally-raised piece of beef. This was also expected. The tomatoes were a bit of a disappointment, being pink and mealy, but it is the dead of winter. The iceberg lettuce was bland and pale, as normal. Two rings of red onion provided a nice hit of onion flavor without becoming oppressive.
The flavor of ham was overshadowed by the stronger pork flavor of the bacon, which was very salty and crispy, providing a nice contrast in texture.
While not packed with flavor, the burger was definitely filling and decent in construction. The fries were almost a more welcome standout, being a thick-cut form of shoestring, and perfectly fried to a nice crispiness.
I’m often drawn to food items that have “California” in their names. Perhaps I feel defensive of the Golden State, my adopted home state, and want to make sure the food lives up to my lofty California standards. Or maybe I just like the flavors that one often finds in California. It’s probably a bit of both. With that said, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I ordered the California burger.
The California Burger comes topped with fresh guacamole, homemade pico de gallo, sour cream and mozzarella. The burger also comes with the standard lettuce, onion, tomato and pickles. I appreciate the fact that they make their own guacamole and pico de gallo, because a casual, late night place like this could easily cut corners.
I was pleasantly surprised by what arrived on the plate. The toppings looked good, and it was something I wanted to dig into. The guacamole and pico de gallo were both pretty tasty, and it’s hard for me to dislike anything topped with sour cream. While the toppings were pretty darn good, they weren’t quite enough to get me to overlook some other serious shortcomings. The beef was a bit dry and did not have the flavor that I have become accustomed to with many of the other burgers in Bloomington. As iffy as the patty was, the biggest disappointment was the bun. It was dry and almost completely untoasted. A crappy, untoasted bun like this can really drag down a burger. It certainly didn’t help the California Burger.
The burgers come with fries and they were worth the price of admission. These are some really good fries and a complete surprise. I thought a late night place like this would make fries an afterthought. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The flavor and texture of these fresh fries was spot on. I walked out of there happy.
This wasn’t a bad burger. The guacamole and pico de gallo were both excellent toppings and the fries were awesome. While the overall quality of the burger was not especially high, I would happily come back to Munchitos after another long night of playing pool. Hopefully I’ll win more games next time.
Raw Score: 3 / 5 burgers
Price-adjusted: 3.5 / 5 burgers
Price: $8.99 for The Knight; $7.99 for the California Burger
Gained points: late night satisfaction
Lost points: patty quality, bun
Date of visit: 2/1/13 (Federal Territory Day in Malaysia)
 The alien logo makes no sense for a Mexican/American restaurant. Someone needs to explain it to us.
 One crying girl thanked us for not being mean to her. You’re welcome.
 As Neil and I recently learned in Trademark Law, this name makes a good case for secondary meaning, even if a name based on the term “munchies” might be a little generic.
 The description seems almost like a farce: “Are you trying to pack on some muscle or satisfy a body builder sized hunger? Then, The Bobby Knight burger, layered with 100% beef, provolone cheese, ham, egg, and savory bacon, and then topped with a fresh garden, is the perfect choice for you. This is a burger that gains respect.”
 There were also a few fries on top of the burger, and it looked as if they were put there intentionally. So are they saying that’s a California thing?