Actually, it IS Rocket Science

Izzo’s Smuggling

There is a magical place that only exists in Southern Louisiana where tortilla shells grow larger than your entire upper torso and carnitas are slow roasted with a lemon-red-pepper garlic rub until they fall apart with the touch of a feather.  That place is known as Izzo’s Illegal Burrito by its birthrite, but Val Hala by any other.

It’s hard to describe the level of satisfaction that comes with eating an Izzo’s burrito, but if I tried to do so, I’d say it’s as if your tongue were capable of achieving its own carnal peak (in the most platonic sense, of course), this would be the outcome.   Originating in Louisiana’s state capital, Baton Rouge, I came to know and love Izzo’s throughout my duration as an undergraduate at LSU, and would still be a willing advocate for the place to branch out nationally, if not globally.   The place makes Chipotle look like that nasty meat truck that gave you the shits last week; five different kinds of salsa as well as pico de gallo made daily, three different types of lettuce, a variation of cheeses, and a cilantro dressing that makes you want to drink it out of an 84 oz. water bottle in chugs.

Izzo’s had a sign on their exit door that simply read:  ”See You Tomorrow.”  Cocky bastards.  They knew they had you.

Which is why, when I went to visit my parents about a year ago in Lake Charles, a small town over two hours from Baton Rouge, I was beyond ecstatic to find that the heavens looked down on my parent’s small city and had generously placed an Izzo’s within a mile from their residence.  You guys, I about did a triple spit-take when I was riding with my mom to make a last minute run to the mall to see those yellow green and orange letters pop up when we turned the corner, and I wasn’t even drinking anything at the time.  It put me in such delirium to see the installment that I made this weird sort of guttural noise followed by an exclamation that made my mom pump the brakes and me lucky that nothing happened that would make me pay for the damage to the rear of her car if the person behind her hadn’t noticed and smashed into her bumper.


“Oh my god.  Mom.  You guys got an IZZO’S??!!!”


“You guys GOT AN IZZO’S!  LOOK!!”


“Do you REALIZE what this MEANS??!”



“Oh, geez, Ashlin. Should I worry about you?”

And thus began my evening excursions to Izzo’s in Lake Charles.  Since then, without question, every. time. I go home to visit family and friends, I inevitably make the pilgrimage to Izzo’s the night before I leave to go back home.  I enter their fine establishment and order the largest installment on their culinary map:  ”The Illegal” which estimates out to (get ready) TWO THIRTEEN-INCH-TORTILLAS rolled into one, and then STUFFED with as much Mexican fare as you can hold in your pretty little mind.

How do I know this?  I called Izzo’s as I was writing this just to confirm and the guy on the phone casually explained, “Sure.  I mean, it’s just two THIRTEEN-INCH-TORTILLAS that we roll into one.”  Like, NO BIG DEAL.  Just a meal for your entire five person family in one neatly rolled up package.  I do this so that I can partake in its glory for the next few days (don’t think that shit doesn’t stay fresh- I have the technology. I have the capability to make it even better than it was before.  Better.  Stronger.  Fresher. Ice packs).

Anyway.  I order one of these badasses every time I go home, which they carefully wrap in aluminum foil and place delicately in a plastic bag, where I then nurture it, unopened, during its overnight stay in my parents refrigerator and then gingerly tuck it into my carry-on the next morning.

The Lake Charles airport is exceedingly generous in their TSA restrictions, which I’m certain is the only reason I’ve gotten away with such ridiculous behavior over the past several trips.  Do you guys know what it’s like to bring a GIANT ambiguous item wrapped in FOIL through the x-ray machine??  No?  Am I the only idiot willing to take that risk?

Probably so.

But the first time I did it, I kid you not, I explained to the TSA commander-in-chief that I was packing a lunch item with me, and offered to show it to him.  He was gracious enough to explain that he might need to see the item, especially if it were covered with foil, and I obliged, exposing the honking burrito that was larger than my upper body.  Dude took one look at it, inspected within its wrapper, and pulled it out of my backpack.

F&%#ing shit.  So long, Izzo’s.  I hardly knew ye.

The man then proceeded to poke and prod the item in question with such intensity and stealth that I broke out of my Izzo’s-induced derangement and legitimately began to worry that I was going to be taken aside very soon for personal inquisition.

You know that moment in Sophie’s Choice where she’s making The Big Decision?  I was considering the same thing between my burrito and my plane tickets.  No jokes.

And then the guy, I’m not even kidding, places the massive burrito back in my bag and looks up at me and says,

“First of all, how are you going to fit all of that in there?”  pointing to my stomach.

“And next, where’d you get that?  I gotta get my hands on one of those.”

I nursed that burrito for the next several days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with extreme happiness and contentment of a human-and-tortilla-rolled-vehicle-of-bliss match made in heaven , and I can’t wait to do it again.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Toups says:

    izzo’s, the meal that eats like a week

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 5 months ago

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