915 E. Harvard Blvd.
$1.49 – $11.95
For those who appreciate a good hole in the wall eatery, Chickyweedy’s in Santa Paula is a great find. This little restaurant is the epitome of casual, rolling out no-frills food, much of which comes from the fryer.
Having heard the buzz about its 10 corn burritos, we stopped by for lunch one day. The dining room is tiny with less than 10 tables; and though it was quiet the day we were there, I’m told waiting time for food can sometimes be as long as 45 minutes. After looking over the menu, we ordered at the window and sat down next to one of the large, blaring televisions to wait for our food. Within 10 minutes, our friendly server brought it out to our table.
The first thing we sampled was the 10 corn burritos. The story behind the 10 corn burritos goes something like this: back in the day, 10 corn burritos were a Santa Paula favorite, one of the signature dishes at a place called Mr. Chips.
Sadly, Mr. Chips closed, leaving Santa Paula residents longing for their 10 corn burritos. One such resident, Betty Gomez, missed the 10 corn burritos so much that she spent countless hours trying to recreate the dish and the unique sauce that goes with it. Fast-forward to late 2010, when Betty and her brother Albert opened Chickyweedy’s, with her version of the 10 corn burritos and an almost exact replica of the infamous sauce as the centerpiece of the menu. At last, the long lost 10 corn burritos are back, and Santa Paula residents are still celebrating.
Never having had a corn burrito before, I was more than curious. Turns out, the corn burrito is nothing more than a small corn tortilla that is filled with refried beans and deep fried. What makes it such a treat is how it is served: piled up, covered in unmelted, shredded cheddar cheese, with this sauce that is both sweet and spicy at the same time. Though some hearty eaters order the 10 corn, an order of 10 of these little burritos, you can order in increments of two.
I went for the two corn with the sauce on the side (some people prefer to order the burritos with the sauce poured on top). After tasting the thin, red sauce, I poured a little bit over my burritos. As it soaked in, the crunchy shells softened up and all the flavors began to meld together. As I tasted the dance between the unique, sweet sauce, the texture and sharpness of the cheese, the crunch of the shell, and the smoothness of the beans, it all began to make sense. So simple, yet so good.
We also enjoyed the tacos at Chickyweedy’s. The fish taco was layered on two soft corn tortillas and filled with fried fish and shredded cabbage. Though we topped it with some of the house salsa, it fell unfortunately short on flavor. Of the taco selection, it was the shredded beef tacos that really took center stage: crispy shells filled with tender shredded meat, topped with shredded cheese and lettuce.
As we ate them (so enthusiastically, in fact, that we had to go back and order more), it occurred to me that something was different: the shell was hand crimped around the filling, meaning that the tacos are filled before being dropped into the fryer. The end result is mind-blowing: the already tender, flavorful meat is taken to a new level of flavor, making for a taco where the meat truly shines, a taco so good that no other toppings are necessary.
Given the expertise with the fryer, it’s no surprise that the fish and chips were another standout at Chickyweedy’s.
Three large pieces of fish are coated in a thick batter and deep-fried to a glistening, golden brown and served with fries and coleslaw. It was the thickness of the breading that grabbed my attention, giving each bite of fish a little bit of chewiness and crunch at the same time. We also sampled the New England clam chowder — thick chowder filled with lots of clams and potato, plus flecks of shredded carrot and some chopped bacon.
The prices at Chickyweedy’s are beyond reasonable … with the tacos starting at $1.49 and the corn burritos ringing in at $3.75 for four of them. This is the kind of place where you can grab a quick taco snack for less than $2 or a full meal for less than $8. And while there’s no dessert at Chickyweedy’s, if you happen to have any room left after eating all those tacos and burritos, you can pop in next door to Fosters Freeze for a dipped cone before heading home.Visit my blog at www.venturafoodhappenings.com or find Ventura Food Happenings on Facebook.