Bread Market Cafe (and the Plantain Burrito)

It takes alot for me to eat at a Midtown Deli.  There are so many of them, and they offer so little.  They breed laziness in every Midtown worker- and if they weren’t right outside your office, you would never eat there.  Just admit it.  But, every once in awhile, one of these delis offers something extraordinary… something that sets it apart.  Variety Cafe, with their fat guy salad bar (I stopped eating there after it was closed by the health dept.), Cafe Duke and their Korean food station, or the one location of Europa Cafe with a make your own burrito bar.

Well, last week, I hit the motherload.  Not only did I find a deli with something beyond the norm- they may have invented a new and unbelievably delicious food!  The burrito, stuffed with fried plantains.  That’s right.  And the place to get it is the Bread Market Cafe (on 52nd btw. 5+6th).  A generic make your own burrito bar, distinguished by one add-on ingredient.  The sweet, fried plantain.  It makes sense if you think about it… at Margon, you eat a meat, rice, beans, and fried plantains.  Why not wrap the whole thing up in burrito form???  It’s genius.

See the pics, and the +/- after the jump….

The burrito bar at Bread Market Cafe is pretty standard- with some good and some bad.  The first great thing is the steamed tortilla.  One of the biggest problems with New York City burrito places is they don’t steam the tortilla.  Surprisingly, this crappy Midtown deli does.  They also roll their burritos very well; a tight, compact nugget.  Very impressive.  Unfortunately, when it came to the meats they lose alot of points.  One of the biggest mistakes a “bad burrito place” makes is over-spice’ing each individual element.  What makes a burrito great is the combination of each of the very simple single elements.  The rich fattiness of the roast pork (or any meat), with the base of the rice and beans, the tangy-ness of the salsa and the fresh coolness of the guacamole or sour cream, mixes together to form a perfect burrito union.  If you add a ton of salt and fancy spices to the meat, salt and spices to the rice, and tons of  salt and spices to the beans- you get a gigantic over spiced mess.  Let each simple element do it’s job, and you get the perfect burrito.  Why would you need to add cilantro and lime to the rice?  It’s already in the pico de gallo (Chipotle I’m look at you).  It’s very simple people…   

I’m a huge fan of pork, but unfortunately their pork is “Tangy pulled pork” or as most people would refer it to it- pork covered in BBQ sauce.  Not good for a burrito.  I ended up with the beef, which was over spiced.  They had yellow “Mexican” rice, which is a plus for many people (or brown rice if you want to be “healthy” I guess), pico, cheese, two kinds of chicken (one shredded with the same spices as the beef, and one that look like it was boiled plain) guac and sour cream.  Anything in your burrito costs around $6.25 to $6.75, depending on the meat.  A vegetarian burrito will run you $5.50 to $6.25.  The addition of the plantains is supposed to cost $.75, but they didn’t charge me, so maybe it’s free.  Not exactly sure.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are no great burritos in New York City.  Say what you will about Chipotle, Burritoville, Burrito Box or any other number of places- they all pale in comparison to any Burrito you will get in San Francisco, Los Angeles (or even a few places in Boston- like the often mentioned Anna’s Taqueria).  Bread Market Cafe doesn’t change my mind about this.  Despite being called “Mission Style Burritos”, they are mediocre burritos salvaged by the addition of one ingredient:  the fried plantain.  That’s not to say it wasn’t decent.  The sweetness of the plantain mixes so well with the rice and beans and meat, this new invention can’t be ignored.  If I went back, I would go with the plain chicken and it would probably be better.

All I know is, Latin places should start paying attention.  THE CUBAN BURRITO could be huge!  Invented by Bread Market Cafe, perfected by ______________.  Oh man would that be good…  imagine the same burrito stuffed with the roast pork, beans and rice, grilled onions and of course- the fried plantains from Margon (or Cafe Cello, or Sophie’s Cuban).  Disgustingly delicious!!!!  I think we’ve got something here… 


  • Um.  Plantains… stuffed… INSIDE the burrito!!!
  • They steam the tortilla
  • They roll the burrito really well (no fork and knife needed) and it stays together until the last bite
  • The plantain add on is supposed to cost .75, but they didn’t charge me


  • Everything is over spiced, making it one of those typical, mediocre burritos
  • The pork has BBQ sauce on it.  Terrible.

Bread Market Cafe, 1290 Ave of the Americas- 52nd. St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-957-5677


  • Congrats on the new site! Makes me want to open my own :) Looks great.

    Hmm… I’m always afraid of eating burritos cuz they’re so big. I feel like it will fall apart all over my front if I bite it!! Looks good though :)

    PS Have you seen Taco Bell’s [new] commercial for an enchilada “with everything inside”?

  • Brilliant! Finally, some inovative burito bars! Although the black beans are not very good, the plaintains, brown rice, corn salsa and pico de gallo are quite tasty! And anything is better than waiting in line at McDonalds-owned Chipotle (although, for the record, I dont mind Chipotle…sorry!)

  • I gave the burrito bar a try yesterday, and was quite pleased. The plaintains are definitely a great addition, and the spicy green salsa was just hot enough to cut through the general starchiness of the whole thing. I tried to keep it healthy by leaving out the dairy and sticking to brown rice and black beans (no meat), and found the result pretty tasty. If they could throw some jalapenos in there it’d be even better. This meal gets bumped into my short list of quick to-go meals, especially since it’s near my office.

  • I eat here a couple times a week because I work in the building and can get into Bread Market without going outside. Yes, I’m lazy. I always get either a salad or the $5.50 burrito. It’s not the best burrito, but it’s one of the few reasonably healthy options I can get in my building. The fat and refined carbs in most takeout food make for tasty lunches (I love pizza and Chinese food as much as the next guy), but not good choices for everyday lunch staples.

    At Bread Market, I get a “whole wheat” tortilla (probably not 100% whole wheat, but almost certainly better than the 8g of fat and nutritionless refined-flour of the Chipotle tortilla), brown rice, black and red beans, grilled onions, lots of pico de gallo, corn salsa and lettuce and have a very satisfying and reasonably healthy meal for under $6 with tax. Sometimes I add the plaintains, but usually leave ‘em out in the interest of healthy eating.

    A couple notes:

    (1) They are inconsistent when it comes to rolling burritos. Most of their workers get it right most of the time, but sometimes the burritos still fall apart halfway through my meal, so I usually grab a fork just in case.

    (2) If you want jalepenos, they usually have a plate of grilled jalepenos and onions right next to the plantains.

  • There’s an awesome burrito place in Boston called El Pelon, better than Anna’s in my opinion, with a burrito called “El Guapo” that combines all the burrito basics with carne asada, guac and fried plantains. It’s glorious.

    For those willing to leave midtown and take a trip to boston for lunch, it’s on Peterborough St. in the Fenway neighborhood (btwn Fenway Park and the Fens)

  • That’s funny… I used to live in Boston, and have eaten at El Pelon many times- I NEVER noticed the burrito with the fried plantains! Craziness… (although in my defense, I usually got their delicious torta)

  • Coming in late on this one…

    Actually, Whole Foods has had a plaintain-stuffed burrito for years – it’s the Cuban Burrito, the yellow one with pork and black beans. I used to get it when I lived in Cambridge, but it’s not good enough for me to brave the horrors of the Time Warner Center Whole Foods near where I live. Still, count me in favor of the plaintain burrito!

  • I tried to convince a friend to go with me to Bread Market for the plaintain burrito yesterday, but she had her heart set on Digby’s, a cute, but otherwise standard/crappy midtown deli, practically accross the street. As it turns out, they also have a burrito bar with plantains. Rejoice!

    I kept it very simple – black beans, plantains, pico, cheddar. The tortilla was steamed, the beans were good, the pico had a nice fresh onion-y kick and the plaintains were amazing – truly brought the rest of the ingredients together in delightful harmony. I would leave off the cheese next time as it was pretty blah, and I obviously can’t speak to the quality of the meats. However, it might be worth checking out. (Mine cost me $5.96 w/ tax.)

    In any case, thank you for this posting; without it, I may not have thought of putting my beloved plantains *inside* the burrito, and it was a most delicious and affordable lunch.

  • Just a heads up for everyone & in response to Georgia… Digby’s and Bread Market are owned by the same company & pretty much have the same menu, give or take a few items. There is also a Bread Market Cafe on 45th & Lex in the Equinox building, but their menu is a lot smaller.
    My favorite is the Thanksgiving wrap, with Turkey (the deli kind – though I wish it was fresh craved turkey), cranberry sauce, & stuffing wrapped in your wrap of choice. A small bit of Thanksgiving any time of the year.

  • Got it today. Amazing.

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