Quantcast

Benji’s Burrito Bistro a boon to Kaiserslautern food scene

Top-notch ingredients make for a great final product at Benji's Burrito Bistro in Landstuhl, Germany. This bowl features steak, shrimp, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo and lettuce.

COURTESY OF JACKIE BROOME/SPECIAL TO STARS AND STRIPES

By GREGORY BROOME | Stars and Stripes | Published: June 6, 2019

It’s usually a positive sign when a restaurant is packed beyond its capacity. So you can imagine how exciting it was to try my first bite from Benji’s Burrito Bistro in a city park a couple blocks away from the restaurant.

Waiting in the snaking line extending outside of the eatery’s small Landstuhl, Germany, shopfront and transporting the takeout bag to a second location only heightened the anticipation, and with it my expectations, which were already elevated. Really good Mexican food is hard to find in the Kaiserslautern area, and I was hoping Benji’s might give me a new go-to. I took a seat on a wooden park bench and with contained optimism cracked open the lid of my burrito bowl.

Turns out I had no reason to manage my expectations — Benji’s would have exceeded them regardless. Every ingredient was absolutely delicious.

My burrito bowl started with a base layer of fluffy, flavorful cilantro-lime rice and black beans. Then I piled on the protein — chicken and steak, for which I gladly paid a double-meat upcharge. Then came the tangy pico de gallo, crisp lettuce and shredded cheese for which a proper adjective didn’t immediately come to mind but was nonetheless really good.

I don’t like guacamole, but my wife does and she let me know that it was outstanding. She also ordered shrimp and steak on her bowl as part of a surf-and-turf promotion. This made me rather jealous, thus continuing my tradition of kind of regretting my eventual order even though I spend so much time in advance thinking about it. But it was hard to regret anything after a meal this delicious and satisfying.

The arrival of Benji’s is a game-changer for my family. We used to make the trek up to Chipotle in Frankfurt — by the way, there are two Chipotle locations in Frankfurt if you haven’t heard — to satisfy this particular craving. But Benji’s delivers a Chipotle-caliber experience right here in the KMC.

To my mind, counter-service fast-casual dining represents the Platonic ideal of restaurants. It’s more sophisticated than the typical fast-food experience, where you order by number and awkwardly await your bag or tray. It’s more empowering than a table-service restaurant experience, which for me often consists of at least 20 percent scanning the horizon for our missing server. The only styles that can hope to compete with fast-casual counter service are delivery and buffets. But both have drawbacks — the thought that every ambient outdoor noise indicates that your food is finally here and the inherent nastiness of sharing with strangers, respectively — that fast-casual just doesn’t have.

In fact, the only thing that can ruin a fast-casual restaurant is subpar food. That’s not a problem at Benji’s. Count me among those forming a line for more Benji’s burritos in the near future.

broome.gregory@stripes.com
Twitter: @broomestripes

 

Location: Kaiserstrasse 22, Landstuhl, Germany

Hours: Open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Benji’s offers a simple menu of four items: burrito, quesadilla, burrito bowl or nachos. Price depends on the protein: chicken, ground beef or carnitas are 8 euros ($8.92), a vegetarian option is 7.50 euros and steak is 8.50 euros. Extra charges apply for double meat and guacamole.

Information: Benji’s has an active Facebook page that is very responsive to messages.

Benji's Burrito Bistro offers excellent burritos and other Mexican food at its location in downtown Landstuhl, Germany. The new eatery is a welcome addition to Kaiserslautern, which is starved for above-average Mexican food.
COURTESY OF JACKIE BROOME/SPECIAL TO STARS AND STRIPES

from around the web