A Put-in-Bay Backyard Food Stand Gets a Hot Review
Ryan and Kim Stoiber are the proud owners of Put-in-Bay's only burrito business, Big Man's Burrito Stand. They make and sell their food out of a backyard food stand behind Frosty Bar, with access either through Frosty Bar or down the alley off Loraine Ave. behind Pasquales.
Each has been in the food business for many years and they have experience with different ventures including Crescent Tavern, Frosty Pizza, Oddfellows Tavern (closed 2009). After closing Oddfellows, Ryan decided to act on a plan he'd been kicking around for awhile... opening their own burrito business. Because it was previously Burrito-free, Put-in-Bay provided the perfect opportunity for this new business and by the looks (and tastes) of it so far, he is on the right track.
Big Man's Burrito Stand offers a wide range of Mexican options, from jam-packed steak burritos featuring rice, cheese, lettuce, black beans, sour cream, salsa and other fillings, to the simple classic soft carne asada (pork) burrito. There are also vegetarian options for those who don't eat anything that used to have a face on it. We tried the Garlic and Lime Marinated Chicken Burrito ($8.50) on their first week open and went for the refried beans on it since they were out of black beans. There was definitely no deceptive advertising when they say garlic marinade. Wow! I am a garlic lover and this marinade packs a punch that lasts all afternoon long, but in a pleasant aftertaste way. Hopefully, they are still tweeking the recipes because while the garlic/lime marinade is good, it packs a little too much of a garlic punch for most people.
Burritos are not the only item on the menu though! The Stoibers also sell hard and soft shell tacos, nachos, and great salads. It is your choice. So many choices. In fact, if you were to make different combinations of entree (burrito, soft taco, etc), main filling (chicken, steak, etc), sauce (red, green, etc), fillings (rice, bean, etc), and extras (queso, guacamole, etc)... you would have over 61,000 different unique items to try. So on our second visit to the butrrito stand, we tried something different and opted for the Garlic and Lime Marinated Steak Burrito. This time they had black beans so we went for the works on it, including their queso sauce ($1.75 extra). Minor complications ensued when they tried to fold over the tortilla and wrap it up... there was not enough tortilla to hold in all the goodies! Another quick-thinking employee grabbed a second tortilla, heated it up and applied it as a burrito-bandage and voila! Our double-wrapped, over-stuffed, nearly 2 pound log of Mexican goodness was ready to be consumed.
Thirsty from your spicy burrito? Big Man's Burrito Stand is conveniently located right in front of the new backyard bar behind Frostys so you can grab an ice-cold cerveza, a cool soft drink, or a big glass of ice water to wash down your comida. But of course, this is Put-in-Bay Ohio, so cold beverages can be found at every turn. The patio is open-air but well shaded in spots and often has live music on the weekends with a one-man acoustic band. While still downtown, you feel like you are just off the beaten path.
And the kicker? Every item on the menu is only $8.50 (except for the chips and salsa, only $3.00). You can pile on as much or as little of the toppings as you wish, in a theme eerily reminiscent of Chipotle or Qdoba. No extra charge unless you opt for the extremely delicious queso sauce ($1.75) or fresh-made guacamole ($1.85). Unless you have a raging appetite, one over-stuffed burrito should be enough for two people. Diners can buy from the stand and take their food to go, or eat it on the backyard patio.
"Having the burrito stand was just a natural addition when we decided to expand Frostys this season," Stoiber stated on opening day. He is hoping to see the burrito stand see a lot of traffic this summer due to its uniqueness and its streamlined concept. Keeping the menu small and all items priced the same lowers the overhead while still delivering monster-size portions. Fair warning for those seeking a spicy hot kind of Mexican treat, the supposedly "hot" Salsa Verde is anything but. Maybe it is just my taste buds and my love of all things hot and spicy, but the hot salsa here is a bit on the bland side. In fact, the salsa flavor barely comes through when eating a Big Man burrito due to the complex mix of other flavors (especially garlic). Keep a bottle of Tabasco Sauce in your pocket if you want to spice things up a bit!
"I get everything on it just about, which is chicken, rice, black beans, fresh salsa, lettuce, sour cream, cheese, and onions & peppers, and a splash of Queso sauce," said one of the friendly employees on duty. Unlike the rushed atmosphere you find in many of the bars and restaurants on the island, Big Man's Burrito Stand is more laid back and this starts with your initial greeting from the employees back in the kitchen, which is also the food prep area, which is also the point-of-sale. Lots of smiles here, so you know they are enjoying their work. Especially if they are eating their own burritos!
The Stoibers are filling a large void in the Put-in-Bay restaurant business, and as summer shifts in to high gear, many of their burrito-loving customers are asking themselves, what will happen next year? We hope to see Big Man's Burrito Stand thrive through 2011 and be back next year firmly embedded as the Put-in-Bay place to go for a quality burrito meal.
You can reach Big Man's Burrito Stand by calling 419.285.3278. You also can follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/frostybar or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Rating: Seven out of ten stars
Favorite Item: Garlic and Lime Marinated Steak Burrito with Queso Sauce
Notes: limited menu, weak "hot" salsa, but HUGE portions
This website is meant to showcase the Put-in-Bay, Ohio food scene. Monthly reviews of Putinbay restaurants occur during the season. When there is a festival involving food or wine in town, then that is covered as well. Put-in-Bay Bars get occasional notice for the quality of their drinks and entertainment. Each review is as unbiased as the palate of the reviewer (unless brussel sprouts are involved, that is a dealbreaker!).
The mystery reviewer is an island resident who has been boating and working on the island for over 15 years and can remember back to the days when there was a Taco Bell on the island and the downtown bars closed at 11pm. Times change, but everyone still needs to eat!