Gringos Burritos (NEH Magazine)

I’ve written about them before, going so far as to name their product the official burrito of the Rip City blog. Now, it’s officially in print in the July Issue of NEH Magazine.

Gringos Burritos: Entrepreneurial Dreams Meet South of the Border Cravings

What’s the number one food expats complain about not being able to find in Korea? And if you do find it, you are either extraordinarily let down by the quality or angry at the price tag that came along with it – or both. You can find Italian. You can find Arabic. You can find Thai. You can find Indian. Although it’s difficult, you can even find decent American-style Chinese food.

The answer to my unscientific poll? Mexican food.

I’m from the left coast back in the states, and I don’t care what you say, besides Mexico, you haven’t eaten the real stuff unless you’ve spent time in California, Arizona … maybe New Mexico. I lived in Phoenix for two years and my life will never be the same. Those flavors haunt me in my dreams.

Recently, two expats in Ilsan who feel the same way did something about it. Gringos Burritos makes tasty homemade burritos that aren’t exorbitantly overpriced. They are assembled with love, vacuum-sealed and frozen for freshness. On the menu: chicken, breakfast and veggie burritos (I eat a chicken burrito for lunch once a week). There are two places to pick up orders. If you live in the Ilsan area, the rendezvous point for deliveries tends to be the busy shopping district La Festa (which oddly enough has a Spanish ring to it). If you are in and around Seoul, Itaewon is the weekend drop spot.

I asked the Gringos guys, when choosing something to offer the expat community, why burritos? The simple answer from Mike Gringo, “Everyone loves burritos. On the websites and on the blogs and things, people are always complaining about the Mexican food.”

What makes Mark and Mike Gringo qualified to be the savior purveyors of Mexican flavors?

Mike grew up in Canada and says, “I think part of my love for food is, I had very international parents, open-minded parents. So the food that we grew up with was very multi-cultural. And growing up in Montreal, the food was fabulous. Although I didn’t have a lot of burrito experience, I think I’ve got a pretty good palate for what’s good and what’s not.”

Mark grew up in Colorado, which I’d also rank highly on the Mexican food scale of acceptable states to enjoy the sacred cuisine. Tired of the corporate world, he moved to Los Angeles to work in film making. It was there he admits, “In the movie business, we were always going out in the morning to the taco trucks and eating the breakfast burritos. So I’m kind of picky about our flavors, I want them to be as authentic as possible.”

On the topic of what I love in the morning, I let them know how badly I crave a chorizo breakfast burrito from time to time, to which they replied, “We’re working on it.” Really, a chorizo burrito in Korea? I guess I have seen chorizo for sale in Itaewon, but what about those prices? That can’t be cheap. Mike agrees, “You’d pay through the nose to put that in a burrito.”

Which leads us to an interesting point. The Gringos guys essentially charge 5,000 won a burrito. If you buy a 12 pack, it gets knocked down to 55,000 won.

“Part of the goal here is keeping that $5 mark”, says Mike, “So we can go out and make a $15 burrito like every other restaurant in town, but we don’t want to make a $15 burrito.”

I reply that would be silly, after all, you want people to buy it.

“Unfortunately, what’s happening around here is people will buy it, they just won’t enjoy it, and they won’t want to come back,” he continues, “Too many restaurants rely on the fact that people miss stuff. They get away with that. They stay in business based on that. We don’t want to do that. We want to make something where the price is right, the taste is right and it’s convenient.”

Mark puts it simply, “We were sick and tired of second best food, and we want to make it better for everybody.”

Search “Gringos Korea” on facebook.
Email at
Check the new website


~ by ripcitytoseoul on August 9, 2011.

2 Responses to “Gringos Burritos (NEH Magazine)”

  1. How are you going to leave out Texas? Mexicans don’t live in Texas? In addition to the real deal, there’s also Tex-Mex….come on, man

    • Yeah, I’m down with Tex Mex. And I had some of the best carnitas ever in Austin. I guess when I think of Texas I think of barbecue, but yeah man, plenty of Mexicans live in Texas and it’s good stuff.

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