Vegging out, Speedy style

Fresh food delivered quickly at popular burrito joint

CONDON CAN DO Brooklyn-born Frank Condon, the co-owner of Speedy Burrito (with his wife Jan), can often be found in the kitchen serving up fresh, fast food.

CONDON CAN DO Brooklyn-born Frank Condon, the co-owner of Speedy Burrito (with his wife Jan), can often be found in the kitchen serving up fresh, fast food.

Photo By Tom Angel

One brisk Saturday morning, while ambling through the Farmers Market, past tables piled high with mustard greens and pottery, my partner and I stopped at the Mexican food booth and bought a couple of tamales. In chatting with the friendly proprietors, we learned they were Frank and Jan Condon, owners of Speedy Burrito Mexican Grill. The tamales hooked us. We had to try lunch at Speedy, whose slogan is, “Where we roll the fat ones.”

Even if we never ate a bite at Speedy Burrito (not recommended, as the food is too good to pass up), we would enjoy a visit there. I can’t resist anybody with a good Brooklyn accent, and Frank most assuredly has one. He also rates high when it comes to storytelling skills.

Most recently, he entertained us with the tale of his departure from Brooklyn as a young man who was bound for Carson City. “When we got to Carson City,” he said, gesticulating like a good Brooklynite, “I looked all around me and asked, ‘Where’s the city? Where’re the skyscrapers?'” If he hadn’t been a partner in a business venture, he added, he might have turned around and gone back to New York.

The Carson City adventure led to the Chico adventure, however, and for a time Speedy Burrito had its home in downtown Chico. Several years back, the Condons moved it to Nord Avenue, where it appears popular among college students and workers alike. In the time we leisurely lunched there on a Tuesday at mid-day, the funky-casual, red-orange interior boasted a swarm of hungry customers.

One of my friends, a vegetarian, had been telling me about Speedy Burrito for some time, raving about the “healthiness” of the food. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do appreciate good food made from quality natural foods, and sometimes I will order vegetarian dishes just to get an especially healthful meal.

We were pleased to discover quite an array (six different categories) of vegetarian menu options, more than you’d expect to find. I tried the tofu bowl ($4.95), which included black beans, rice, stir-fried vegetables, tofu and teriyaki. All of the ingredients tasted fresh and well seasoned, and when my friend sampled my food, she commented on how much better it was than the Mexican food at “those corporate places” where everything has that “corporate taste” to it.

My friend dived into the tofu tostada salad ($5.99), comprised of a nice bed of greens with black beans, rice, tofu, tomatoes and a spicy chipotle dressing. We observed that this truly constituted a salad, instead of just a pile of chopped iceberg lettuce with some grated cheddar cheese thrown onto it, such as those served at some Mexican restaurants.

Another item that caught our eye was the 10-ounce-size “supreme burrito” ($3.25) for the “light appetite.” We’ll go back for burritos at Speedy Burrito because we don’t care for those over-sized monstrosities you get when you order burritos at some places in town. Speedy also offers low-carb choices that look good, and the menu offers quite a diversity of selections—all of them “healthy fast food.”

The reasonable prices at Speedy Burrito along with the service—which is, well, speedy—make it a nice lunch destination. And if you’re in the mood for outdoor eating, it offers an open-air patio area.

From the various plaques on the walls inside Speedy Burrito, the place has enjoyed a preferred status in Chico; the restaurant has won “Best Burrito,” “Best Meal Under $5” and “Best Lunch” in prior News & Review “Best Of Chico” contests.

“Going veg” at Speedy Burrito offers a fun—and healthful—lunchtime outing. Just don’t forget to hit Frank up for a story.