Separate but not Equal: The story of two burritos

Between ISIS, Ebola and climate change, the world has a lot on its hands right now. And while the Triangle is tuned into these international crises, a local catastrophe is escalating largely unnoticed.

It’s the story of the Cosmic Cantinas, two hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in Durham and Chapel Hill. It’s the story of burritos. And it’s the story of despair.

As a native Durhamite, I grew up with the flagship Cosmic. I tripped up its groaning stairs and gleefully ordered a mini vegetarian burrito. I know that gleefully is a cliche word, but I was very much full of glee when I was in that sanitation-grade-hidden heaven.

I want to tell you about the mini vegetarian but I can’t. Gabriel Garcia Marquez couldn’t even sew the words together to give justice to the black beans, rice, cheese and pico de gallo. All I can say is that when my burrito would fold back and some of its entrails would fall on the table I would stand up, get a fork, and make that table my plate.


When I came to Chapel Hill I knew Cosmic’s younger brother on Franklin St. couldn’t be as good as the Cosmic I grew up with. And, as always, I was right.

It wasn’t as good. It was slightly more expensive (at the Durham Cosmic I could get my mini veg and a Pibb Extra for $3) but it was still Cosmic, so it was still good.

Unfortunately, that’s changing. The Durham Cosmic is as delicious as ever but in the past four years, the Chapel Hill Cosmic’s prices have sky-rocketed and quality has plummeted. Quesadillas are soggy and my mini vegetarian burrito is a tasteless ghost of its subpar past. Prices rose over the summer. A vegetarian burrito is now close to $4. I don’t know the exact price because I close my eyes to block out the world when I hand the portly disappointment my Visa.

This is a disturbing trend that needs immediate attention. I don’t exactly know what kind of attention, but I’ll think about it. This blog may only have one reader, but this is a call to burrito action. ISIS can wait, my taste buds can’t.

Here is a real picture of a mini vegetarian burrito bought 9/24/14:

burrito

What is this? 1960s America?? Come on, mix it up a little.

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