Good Taste: Burritos on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, satisfy a need

Double beef with diced bell peppers, black beans, rice, cilantro, lettuce, sour cream, and chipotle salsa.
Photo by Ralph Stewart

Double beef with diced bell peppers, black beans, rice, cilantro, lettuce, sour cream, and chipotle salsa.

Seth Gambino is thrilled with the response to his new burrito joint, La Choza, on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. “All I have to say is thank you,” he said. “It’s been so good to come home.”

Mr. Gambino grew up on the Island and graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1992. He opened the first La Choza (of four) in the Berkshires in 2001, which he has since closed to focus on the one at home.

“I grossly underestimated the need to have a place like this in Vineyard Haven,” he said. “And that is an excellent problem to have.” Ideally, Mr. Gambino wants customers to be able to come in with $10 in hand and leave with a meal, drink, and change. This is possible, as long as you don’t get too crazy with the toppings. “I’m not trying to make a killing. I’m trying to make a living,” he said.

Inside, La Choza is small, but it’s also clean, bright, and organized. Among the collected license plates and Mexican Day of the Dead décor are signs and arrows guiding customers through the (sometimes harrowing) ordering process.

First you decide on a traditional burrito or a burrito-in-a-bowl. Then choose the type: rice and beans, portabella, beef, chicken, or chorizo ($4 to $6). Once you’ve determined that and the basics of your burrito are being warmed, there are a few free moments to absorb and decide on the many add-ons to choose from, such as shredded lettuce, diced jalapenos, cilantro, chipotle salsa, guacamole, and gluten free chips ($0.25 to $0.75, $3 for chips).

If you are a hot sauce devotee, plan for a few extra minutes to take in La Choza’s vast selection. The hot sauces are lined up from mildest to hottest with names such as “The Cheech,” “Colon Cleaner,” and “Satan’s Rage.” And if you find something you like, all hot sauces are available by the bottle or as a dash or two in your burrito.

La Choza is currently open 11 am to 9 pm, Monday through Saturday. But even if the blinds are drawn and it’s slightly past nine, if you see lights on, Mr. Gambino encourages a knock on the door. “If we still have food, we’ll make you something,” he said. “I’m here for the community, and I’ll do whatever I can…within reason.”

We all know that Main Street Vineyard Haven is one of the most traffic-ridden, parking-spaced-deprived places on the Island, but La Choza customers can park in the Brickman’s parking lot, right next door.

La Choza is here year round, and once he is fully staffed, Mr. Gambino plans on being open seven days a week. Visit La Choza on the web at lachozaburritos.com and stay tuned for extended weekend hours and breakfast burritos. As Mr. Gambino says, “Let’s turn Vineyard Haven into a foodie town.”

Noteworthy:

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown is hosting a grand buffet in her honor. Brunch will feature a crepe station, raw bar, hot and cold selections, and more. Brunch is served 10 am to 2 pm for $48 per person or $24 for children under 12 (3 years and younger are free). Call 508-627-3761 for reservations.

The Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs opens on Thursday, May 10. Join them for their opening weekend and get a sneak peek at the new menu. Wine lovers, mark your calendars: The Sweet Life is hosting two wine dinners, on June 6 and 13. Visit sweetlifemv.com for more information.

The Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury has brought back the Thursday night tapas menu. Tapas are small plates and appetizers designed to be shared amongst the table. Dishes ranges from $6 to $18. Tapas Thursday will continue through the spring. Call 508-693-2298 for reservations and remember, Lambert’s Cove is still BYOB.

Zephrus at the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven is celebrating spring with a brand new menu and the return of the Z Burger. Next time you’re there, check out their list of regional Massachusetts beers like the Nitro Coffee Porter and Lost Sailor IPA on tap (on their brand new, state-of-the-art draft beer system). For more information or reservations, call 508-693-3416.