For the first time, Tijuana Flats is introducing limited-time menu items! And guess what they are made from… HEMP tortillas! My daughters couldn’t believe it. “They’re cooking with pot?” they asked. Well, hemp seed to be exact. “I guess the theme of the place is kind of good for stoners with the munchies,” my 17 year old stated about the look and feel of Tijuana Flats. She goes there with her boyfriend frequently for lunch dates.
My husband and I got to try the new Hemp items 2 days before they hit the menu at a special media event.
Monique from Tijuana flats marketing started out the night filling us in on the company and the history behind the limited menu items over their Trio – corn chips served with separate cups of salsa, guac and queso dips. And I also enjoyed a sangria with crushed ice – Carlo Rossi slushy Sangria, and we had beer and Woodbridge Chardonnay to choose from as well. I don’t think they’re adding wine to the menu – I think that was a special treat for us!
Tijuana Flats started 20 yrs ago. The concept came from Brian Wheeler who was a student at UCF at the time. Camp Fitch joined soon thereafter. “Fitch came out of two retirements when he took on his current post as CEO and co-owner of Maitland-based Tijuana Flats Burrito Co., a Tex-Mex restaurant chain.” says this Biz Journal interview. Tijuana Flats #102 opens today in Gastonia.
Monique introduced the PR people, servers, cooks, management, and most importantly the earth goddess Rachel, their tree hugging culinary chef.
Tijuana Flats had a contest, and all GMs sent in their ideas for hemp burrito flavors. Rachel’s idea was the Tree Hugger, one of the 3 chosen final menu items, and she was thrilled to introduce us to it. But first things first…
After crunching on the Trio, we were served an appetizer: atom bombs.
A lightly fried tortilla gets stuffed with cream cheese, shredded cheese, fresh jalapenos, Smack My Sweet Ass and Call Me Sally sauce, and sour cream. There were 6 pieces on our plate, each about the size of a standard egg roll. This retails for $4.49. The jalapenos were too much kick for Brian. “I don’t hold my peppers well,” he said. I loved the cheesy, gooiness of this. It’s not unlike a quesadilla, and you want to enjoy it quickly, while it’s hot and melty!
Next we were introduced to the three burritos made with hemp seed tortillas, high in protein and Omega-3s. Here’s a quick view of what’s in them if you don’t have time to finish reading:
The first was the pie roller, their answer to a Strombolli. It was a pizza burrito filled with pepperoni, fajita peppers, onions, mushrooms, red sauce and mozzarella cheese. Then it gets toasted and topped with red sauce, pepperoni and their power light cheese.
The pepperoni on the inside is sauteed with the peppers, onions and mushrooms, so all the flavors blend and everything is soft. With some sauce inside and more on top, this was a wet burrito with lots of flavor! I never had a pizza themed burrito before, and I liked the marriage of the 2 fun snacks!
Brian isn’t much for peppers for mushrooms, but he had a bite on the end that was “all pepperoni, and it’s awesome!” I told Chef Rachel that Brian doesn’t really like veggies very much. I asked if he’d be able to order this without mushrooms and peppers. She said
patrons can ask to remove ingredients but not combine ingredients from other menu items with the hemp menu items. I went back to Tijuana Flats 7/16/14 and they told me they could not make this item without the peppers because they were all “premade”. “I could pick the peppers out of one for you,” a manager said. Eww, no thanks!
Next came the Tree Hugger burrito from Rachel, our chef. This vegetarian hemp burrito is stuffed with roasted poblano peppers, mushrooms, onions, scallions, cilantro cream cheese, crunched-up tortilla chips, cheese, and a drizzle of queso.
I learned two things while eating this yummy entree:
1) Rachel left the pablano skins on. I always peel mine. She said you don’t have to.
2) I got a few bites of plain hemp tortilla and I really noticed a flavor difference! I liked the kick in the hemp tortilla as compared to a plain flour tortilla. I’m guessing they use a blend of spices and it’s not just the hemp offering the flavor, but either way it was TASTY and I tried to get a few more plain bites around the edges.
Chicken and waffles is picking up down south as a fun treat, and Tijuana Flats wanted a tortilla that played with the same flavors. They now introduce the Sweet Hemptation!
This delectable treat was a hemp tortilla filled with little balls of crispy fried chicken, and chunks of sweet chopped up churros, cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, queso, cheese – but then they added bacon and onions. You have the sweet, the savory, the fatty and the cinnamon – and it is just full of fun! I only wonder, could the churro bites be softer? Their crunch was a lot harder than expected.
For dessert we were served Banana Empanadas:
Two hand-held packages of fried doughy goodness stuffed with bananas, cinnamon, sugar, and topped with powdered sugar. Served with a side of caramel sauce. Yum, yum, yum. We brought some home to the kids.
Monique came around and asked what our favorite hemp burrito flavor was. I told her the Sweet Hemptation was great, but I’d never order it because of the food-guilt factor. I’d order a tree hugger though! I would possibly split the pie roller.
I was also lucky enough to win a jar of hot sauce while we were there!
We all got goodies like pens, koozies, kitchy glasses & mustaches, cups and $10 gift cards.
Really the only down side was our location. We were at their St Pete Roosevelt location, and we sat outside which looks pretty with lights strung and a pond with fountain within view, but I got eaten up by no-see-ums. The chairs are woven so they can nip you all over, and I have been itching for a whole week! Do yourself a favor and sit inside.
Tijuana Flats has a motto: When you come to Tijuana Flats, something inside will offend you, but it won’t be the food.
You’ll see “bad words” in the names of some of the sauces on their hot sauce bar, and some oddball art on the walls in a comic-meets-skater-style.
Remember, Hemptation menu items are only available for a limited time (thru early Sept.). Give in to hemptation while their hot!
My husband and I were treated to a free meal and take-away prizes. The opinions are my own. Everything was super yum.