Building a Burrito at the Corner Store
If the burritos at the Corner Store on the corner of Queen Ann Road and Route 137 in Chatham is the Cape’s best kept secret, why can’t I find a parking spot? And what’s with the line out the door?
My friend told me that her plumber told her this is where the best breakfast wrap could be found, which sounded like insider info (it’s not). The allure of the panini side of the counter was strong, but we came for a burrito, and we stuck to the plan. When creating burrito at the Corner Store you have to stay focused. There are a lot of hungry people waiting behind you, and in front of you hang blackboards listing house-smoked, pickled, whipped and spiced burrito fillers and add-ons which are best handled by reading slowly (but not too slowly—remember what’s behind you).
We ordered two burritos and went to town. For the freshly steamed white wrap we went with the slow-roasted “buffalo” pork special ($7.80) and added melted Monterey Jack, refried beans, grilled eggplant, roasted corn salsa, Pico de Gallo and sour cream. The sour cream offered a cool finish to the perfect heat of the buffalo pork and Jack cheese, the eggplant kept things smoky, and the fresh corn salsa and Pico de Gallo gave it all a fresh “pop”. I couldn’t decide if it was the brick-sized Rice Crispy treats piled next to the counter, or the rows of equally monstrous Whoopie pies that put me in a nostalgic mood, but when I spied Sweet Sloppy Joe Ground Beef ($7.75) on the board I knew what the foundation had to be for the wheat wrap. We rolled in Monterey Jack (the only cheese offering, which given the amount of tough decisions one is up against, is actually a relief), fresh Asian slaw, house-pickled onions, more of that roasted corn salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime. Black beans were a thought, but I didn’t want to hide the Sloppy Joe flavor and held back.
The spicy-cool of the white burrito contrasted with the pickled-sweet of the wheat, but both shared a similar brightness—no doubt the upshot of really fresh ingredients. With the rain pounding against the building, we decided to share the only empty bar stool, cheek-to-cheek, facing in opposite directions and sharing intermittent sounds of culinary approval.
At one point Steve DeLeonardis, the 9-year owner of the Corner Store, flew by us with menus for the folks braving the weather in line. I decided I had to meet the guy, but before I could, the delivery of a 40-pound case of jerk seasoning that needed a signature beat me to him. “It’s Jamaican approved,” Steve said, when he saw me eyeballing the box, and pointed to the kitchen, where Fitzroy Anderson and another Jamaican known only as “DD” worked the grill furiously (cook #3 is Demion Buckner who works breakfast, and warrants mentioning for a certain plumber). “They told me this was the ONLY jerk seasoning I could buy!” The three men are part of a 50+ staff jammed into one of the busiest sandwich joints I have even shared a bar stool in. Also worth mentioning is the GM, Melissa Allen, who was the former head chef at the fine-dining restaurant Lyric in Yarmouth Port, which explains in part why this street food looks so radiant.
Last year the Corner Store blew through 52 white wine and sage roasted turkeys for Thanksgiving Burritos in one day (the day before Thanksgiving), and this year Steve is planning on even higher numbers. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I assumed the Corner Store was a “secret”, but I can certainly taste why it’s not.