The Scene: Phat Burrito is a South End neighborhood anchor. Located on Camden Road right along side the LYNX blue line, it’s among such great company as Price’s Chicken Coop and The Common Market. It’s neslted between a few funky art galleries, concert venues, and the Black Sheep skate shop. You can’t miss it since it’s been painted bright yellow and blue and sits on the end of a line of old buildings saved from the plow down that took place in Uptown Charlotte. Sit on the outside dining patio and you’ll see skaters, artists, and the too hip to shower wandering by. If you like to people watch, I can’t say that there’s a better area.
Inside, Phat Burrito boasts a somewhat vintage feel with booths that may or may not have been salvaged from a 1950’s diner. The crew manning the food prep line fit the vibe of the place perfectly, scruffy beards, gauges, and all. The dining room feels like an old firehouse, with a big garage door that I can only assume gets opened in the summers for a cross breeze. The customers are an eclectic mix of punks, skaters, moms, and little ones. Everyone seems to enjoy themselves and have a great time eating in the company of such a diverse crowd.
The Menu: The menu is somewhat unsurprising with offerings of burritos, tacos, and quesadillas stuffed with rice, your choice of beans, choice of meat (I went with the chicken), and sour cream or guacamole. Portion size is definitely a plus, and as the name implies my burrito was PHAT. It was huge, weighing in around a pound and a half by feel.
The Skinny: After getting my burrito and drink (the Sweet Tea is excellent here), I sat in my booth which seemed to be held together by it’s sheer will not to be thrown out, and dug into my food. First bite was exactly what I expected, white rice, sour cream, and chicken, which was very flavorful with enough heat behind it to cut through the richness of the other ingredients. After about half of the burrito, I honestly started to lose interest in the flavor palette of the food. I don’t know if I wasn’t in the mood for it or what, but it was kind of a struggle to finish the rest of the food.
Don’t get me wrong, the food wasn’t BAD, but it wasn’t AMAZING. It seemed like a lot of filler (beans, rice, and cheese), and not a lot of meat. That was a little disappointing as the meat was the best part. The rice could’ve done with some flavoring, as it made the whole burrito more bland since there was so much of it. Regrettably, I was very excited to try this place since I have heard so much about it. I understand why it’s a South End staple, it’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s filling. However if you’re looking to have your socks knocked off then this might not be the place to go. It’s safe to say that I liked the food and the atmosphere enough to want to give it another shot. Truth be told it’s the atmosphere that’s bringing me back more than anything.