*a little note of admission here, as we were taking pics for this review, we were asked by one of the guys at Cosmic Cantina if he could use our pics for the site he was creating for the place. We’re flattered, but it had no bearing on our review*
If you love food, I can’t think of a better place to be in North Carolina than Chapel Hill/Carrboro. It’s really got it all; gourmet shopping at A Southern Season, great vegetarian meals at The Spotted Dog, lots of great local shoppes and restaurants. But let’s face it, I can’t do my grocery shopping at A Southern Season, my bank account would groan under the debt. Sometimes, you just need a good, fresh, and cheap meal. I remember lots of ramen-filled nights and how incredible good food on my meager work-study budget could be. Where, oh where was Cosmic Cantina at my school?
Cosmic Cantina (128 E Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514) , which has a couple of locations in the RDU area, is one of those hidden treasures on Franklin street, blink and you’ll just miss the sign for it. Ignore the national chain burrito joins a couple of blocks down and do your searching for the Cantina. It’s tucked away in a brick building, next to a barber shop and the local Loco-Pops (btw, why do Loco-Pops locations always look so sad? Like someone gave up creating an ice cream shop and said, “Screw it, who needs furniture?”). But for a quick bite (or evidently for something to soak up the alcohol according to some at UNC), you can’t beat it.
Cosmic Cantina has your standards; quesadillas, tacos, but I’m here for the burritos. For someone whose eyes can be bigger than her stomach, I go for the mini-burrito with seak, it’s cheaper than the regulat sizes, but you get so…much…foood. With the burrito, you get a side of chips and fresh salsa. I love the bite of freshly cut cilantro, which my salsa had in spades.
As for the burrito, the steak mini-burrito was nicely seasoned and was both tasty and filling, which you don’t often get together with cheaper eats. The flour tortilla was warm and pliable, the steak wasn’t too salty or tough, and the beans of veggies brought a nice mix of creaminess and crunch. Plus, if you get the deluxe, you get the guacamole, which brought a nice bit of acid to the mix. Cosmic Cantina isn’t without some of the flaws that you find in a burrito place, Tony did point out that sadly, his giant burrito (who can eat that much?) was a little heavy on beans and rice than the meat and veggies.
In the grand scheme of things, Cosmic Cantina is the kind of place where I could see myself as a college kid again; just good simple food, a relaxed atmosphere, and a happy, friendly space. You don’t need classes to enjoy it here.