By Ava Stryker-Robbins
Nina’s Great Burrito Bar is much more than a restaurant that sells burritos. It is a family-run business that offers a large selection of authentic Mexican dishes, including a scrumptious tomato soup.
The Sopa de Tortilla has a guajillo tomato broth with bits of Jack cheese and avocado. Notably, it contains strips of crunchy tortilla that enhance the texture of the dish. It is tasty, warm, and delightful. Chicken tinga can be added for an additional $3.
Beatriz Flores, daughter of owner Nina Guzman, said in a phone interview that the soup is one of her favorites. “It reminds me of when I was little.”
Nina’s desire to open her restaurant came mainly from her love for food, but it was also a financial necessity. Born in Guerrero, Mexico, she was the second oldest of seven children, according to the website. She started working at the age of 10 to help her family afford basic necessities. At 15, she moved to Mexico City, where she met her husband, and, years later, they moved to New York City.
Nina started washing dishes and serving as a line cook, eventually working closely alongside Rosa Mexicano’s founder Josefina Howard. In 1994, Nina opened a small, mainly take-out and delivery-oriented restaurant on the Upper West Side called the Great Burrito. After over 25 years of serving the neighborhood, it closed due to the pandemic. The Flores family together with local restaurateur, Jeremy Wladis (Good Enough to Eat, Harvest Kitchen, Fred’s) opened Nina’s Great Burrito Bar in 2022. Nina is thrilled to have a larger space and greater ability to serve more dishes. She also loves that she can cook for a larger audience. “It’s my passion.”
Nina and her children cook for and manage the restaurant. They pride themselves on their mole sauce, a 30-year-old family recipe. It takes many spices and three days to prepare. Beatriz says “Many people say ours is the best…I hear this from clients, from friends, from family.”
Nina’s Great Burrito Bar is not only popular with Upper West Siders, but also with the Flores’s family in Mexico. Beatriz adds, ‘When they visit, some of my family bring our frozen burritos home to Mexico.”
The Sopa de Tortilla costs $9.
The Dish: Sopa de Tortilla
The Restaurant: Nina’s Great Burrito Bar (522 Columbus Ave between 85th and 86th Streets)
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