Man Food: The 3-Pound Burrito Beast at Barley Hall

Welcome to Man Food, where burger pro Richard Chudy steps away from his usual beat to explore food challenges, street eats, and other gut-busting delights. Ladies are welcome, of course.

Ready to take down the three-pound beast. (Photo by Katie Barszcz.)

I’m not a big guy; maybe 5’10” with heels (OK, I don’t actually wear heels, aside from that one Halloween when I was 12) and a smaller burger gut than I should have by now. And when it comes to taking down massive quantities of food, I’m not much of an all-you-can-eat kind of guy–I always prefer quality over quantity, although it would be nice if the two could overlap. In late August, sports bar/lounge The Joshua Tree in Allston went under a revamp and reemerged as Barley Hall, bringing with it a mammoth three-pound burrito named The Beast. Would quality and quantity unite as one here? I decided to find out.

The three-pounder is described as “overstuffed” on the menu, which is an understatement. I figured though, that if I was going to succumb to this beast, it better culminate in some local notoriety (and not in a heart attack). Sarcasm aside, The Beast is a legit three pounds; they weren’t lying. As burritos go its fairly standard, with fillings of black beans, Monterey Jack cheese, Mexican rice, salsa and pico de gallo. Oh, and it’s also smothered in a nacho cheese sauce (think Taco Bell, but on steroids).

Ringing at $13, this burrito could easily satisfy three or four people. I, however, was going to eat it alone. My strategy was to eat as quickly as possible, Man vs. Food-style, figuring that the more breaks I took and the slower I ate, the more trouble I’d be in. In between dry bites of flabby chicken and canned beans, some flavor was detectable–mainly from a chipotle vinaigrette that offered enough heat and smokiness to sustain the Cheez Wiz-like sauce that drowned the entire thing. But once I got over the initial burrito hump–which was after the first pound or so–I lost all of my taste buds. I could have been eating anything. The flavors vanished, and it just became a pool of chewy tortilla filled with a mishmash of stuff.

The Beast proved a lofty challenge for a solo consumer. It’s one I was able to conquer, I’m happy to report, though it’s far from the best burrito I’ve ever consumed. Hardly an improvement over The Joshua Tree, Barley Hall does its best to impress the masses: in this case, unsuspecting college kids looking for a cheap pint. The food here isn’t necessarily the focus, but a better bet than other local options like Tavern in the Square and Sunset Grill and Tap.

(Barley Hall, 1316 Commonwealth Avenue, Allston, 617-566-6699,