Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.
The day Flippin’ Out closed was a tough one for me. They’d long been my favorite burger joint in north Fulton. I soon learned that the same owner wanted to replace it with a burrito joint. How dare they! I was initially furious then sank into a deep burger depression. I lamented the loss of their delicious onion rings and charcoal grilled burgers. Even many months later, there still is no substitute.
Maybe that explains why it took me forever to try Burrito Gorilla after they finally opened. Yet it took only one bite of their delicious smoked pork to make me (almost) forget Flippin Out.
And it was the pork that I went right after. I love roast pork in Mexican and Spanish food. The fact that they smoked theirs on-site was a serious plus. I ordered my pork on a torta, a Latin style sandwich. Sure enough, this was some serious swine. It punched with a solid core of smoke and a slightly chewy bark. The chipotle barbecue sauce complemented it well and didn’t cover up the flavor. It was topped with a bit of cole slaw and fried onions. The bread was a little too hard for my liking but it didn’t detract from the overall sandwich. All in all, this was a superior bbq pork sandwich. It would win a head-to-head battle with nearly any of north Fulton’s barbecue restaurants. Forget the Mexican and burrito aspect of this place for a minute. If you like smoked pork, you need to try this place.
I also tried as an appetizer their loaded chips with steak. The slices of skirt steak were tender and delicious. The guacamole was fresh but mixed to the point of being smooth. Take note if you’re a fan of chunky guac. The black beans were pretty good but my lunch partner found bits of black olives mixed in. Neither of us cared for this addition.
I probably should have tried the burritos. Be careful not to lump this place into the ubiquitous franchise burrito joint category. Their careful and creative use of fresh ingredients make this place so much more. Nevertheless, they offer a lot of burritos in three different sizes.
The Gorilla has two distinct challenges to overcome. First is location. I recently wrote about poor restaurant locations in Alpharetta. This location could have easily made that list. Secondly, they employ a very young wait staff. Some of Gorilla’s early reviews point to service problems. I didn’t observe any on my visit, but it is clear that the kids working here lack experience. It was a theme I saw on many visits to Flippin Out. Management clearly handles the kitchen well but they may need to train the front of the house better.
I like that Burrito Gorilla has a hip little chalk board listing all their social media endeavors, or “nerd stuff” as they call it. They list Urbanspoon, City Search, Facebook, Twitter and even their blog. They seem a little new to twitter as they have yet to even tag another user, much less carry on a conversation. A lot of restaurants have social media accounts set up that they practically ignore. But if you’re going to tout your social media presence, at least use it! Sorry, just a little pet peeve.
But all in all, Burrito Gorilla made a very positive impression on me during my first visit. They could be a serious contender in these parts. Also keep an eye out for their sister restaurant next door. Dal Cuore will be their new Italian concept opening very soon.
Burrito Gorilla is located at 2100 Ray Moss Connector near the corner of Jones Bridge and State Bridge Roads in Johns Creek.