Review: Fresh ingredients abound at Moe’s

A collective sigh arose from campus once Tortilla Fresca left South Paw Dining.

File Photo: Brynn Castro | The Houstonian

File Photo: Brynn Castro | The Houstonian

Relief for some. Grief for others.

Hopes of a new-and-improved tex-mex themed restaurant came to fruition as Moe’s Southwest Grill replaced the former quesadilla go-to. Only time would tell if it matched, surpassed or fell short of its predecessor’s offerings.

Having been located in South Paw for a semester, the process has had plenty of time to take root in campus’ southern-most dining hall. Thankfully, improvements have occurred since last semester.

The restaurant’s staple: the burrito, an instant classic with college-aged students fueled by the desire for big-name burrito dealers Chipotle Mexican Grill and Freebirds World Burrito.

However, Moe’s suffers the same fate as its arguably more popular peers. The structure in which the burrito is made lends many bites to consist of too much rice and not enough meat.

One could argue this is a flaw in the nature of a burrito, and not a flaw in Moe’s’ operation. A solution to this issue: do not get burritos.

Moe’s’ best offering is, hands down, its tacos. Available through a Sam Houston State University’s meal plan, the tacos act as the perfect vessel for Moe’s’ well-seasoned chicken, corn salsa, sour cream and cheese. Most surprisingly, Moe’s’ offering of fresh herbs and vegetables presented throughout the buffet line is its best feature.

An often under-utilized addition not present at rival Chipotle is fresh cilantro. Even a small bundle of the curly forest-green leaves will send any Moe’s entrée over the edge.

Fresh lettuce that remains crisp, vibrant and healthy – unlike sandwich giant Subway’s wilted and stringy shreds of iceberg – adds to the overall freshness of Moe’s’ selections.

That is Moe’s’ advantage over other campus eateries such as Grille Works and Einstein Bros. Grille Works’ once-frozen burger patties and Einstein’s soup from a bag are no match for the cantina-style dining hub.

Another win for Moe’s is its queso. Reminiscent of Berryhill Baja Grill’s white wine-infused cheese dip, Moe’s’ queso can be added to any meal or found at their tailgate stand before football games.

Overall, Moe’s has not disappointed in the landscape of campus dining options. It could even be considered the best, especially on days when its line is short, the staff is friendly and the food is well prepared.

Its options available for purchase through meal plans are an added bonus, making off-campus locations like Pita Pit, Potato Shack and Five Loaves Deli less appealing.

With the nearest Chipotle and Freebirds 28 miles south in Conroe, burrito and taco fans alike must settle for Moe’s to get their southwestern cuisine fix. Luckily, Moe’s’ fare is so well prepared it does not feel like settling.

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