I’ve lived on the east side for more than 15 years, so El Oasis’ original location on Michigan Avenue and its menu aren’t novel to me, nor are they probably new to many of you, dear readers. However, in the past year of my frequent visits, I’ve discovered a new favorite dish, which was necessary after more than a decade of essentially ordering the same thing.
When I was ill recently, I had the Veggie Oasis Burrito and a side of chips and salsa delivered to my home. The burrito has become my go-to affordable comfort food infusion, apart from Babes Corner’s chicken salad sandwiches.
The burrito is priced the same as those with a premium meat filling, but I would argue its superiority any day. First of all, it’s huge. The heft of it will immediately reassure you that even if this is all you get to eat today — because you’re out of groceries, can’t imagine leaving the house and can’t justify getting delivery twice in one day — you will be sustained.
The Veggie Oasis includes the usual burrito fillings — beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, onion and sour cream — but it stands apart from its meat-filled counterparts not only in the way many veggie options do, with the inclusion of the noble avocado, but with a fried, cheese-stuffed poblano pepper. I’ve had many burritos from many restaurants in my day, but I’ve never had one like this anywhere else. The poblano has a charred bitterness that offsets the fatty richness of the avocado and cheese and the acidity of the salsa. Poblanos are fairly long, as far as peppers go, so you get some in almost every bite, and the bites without still contain plenty of the flavorful and savory rice and beans.
I can never resist adding chips and salsa to my order, and especially when I order at off times — on this occasion, when the food truck opened at 10 a.m. on a weekday — I’m impressed by the chips’ crispy freshness as I dip them right into the center of the burrito’s filling and then drag them through the salsa. The salsa, a pico de gallo, differs greatly from the hot or mild options offered with main courses, and my one disappointment this day was the lack of the garlic-y, almost creamy “spicy green” salsa, which isn’t on the menu but is often available if you ask for it. I received the mild green salsa, which is vinegary, bright and delicious. You can never have enough of it — even if you’ve eaten it thousands of times.
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