My next stop on Centre Street is Alex’s Chimis. It looks like a pretty decent establishment, what with having TVs as the menu boards and all. Plus, they seem to attract a pretty steady stream of customers. Every time I walk past, there is a relatively sizable group of people waiting to order. Now, this isn’t the same type of crowd as that which I see at Cappy’s Pizza, where everyone just loiters, looking exceptionally dubious. On the contrary, at Alex’s Chimis, all of the people inside are in line waiting to order food. The inside is small, so doesn’t really allow for much shady lingering.
But there’s one problem with Alex’s Chimis: I have no idea what a chimi actually is. Is it a chimichanga, those delicious enchiladas covered in cheese sauce that are my go-to whenever I eat at a Mexican restaurant? I don’t know, but apparently Alex has some. I also don’t know who Alex is. A place of mystery.
I walk inside. It’s a cafeteria-style place, similar to Yely’s Coffee Shop, but it also has additional menu items that aren’t found in the heated display case, namely, the chimis.
I’m standing in line, looking at the menu. And seeing something on the menu board, I learn something new and important. A chimi is apparently a Dominican Style Burger. I may have mentioned this before, but there are many people from the Dominican Republic who live in Jamaica Plain. I learn later from a woman in my church Community Group who is from the Dominican that chimis are a typical Dominican street food that you buy from the street vendors. Now you’ve been edified. You’re welcome.
The menu lists several different types of chimis, as well as other food items. I’m watching the customers ahead of me order, and everyone is ordering chicken and plantains and other things from the front display. No one orders chimis. This is interesting, since it’s called Alex’s Chimis, but since I’ve never had a chimi before, I’m going to focus my typical question a bit.
I get to the front of the line, and the man behind the display case says “Next!” in Spanish. So I ask my question in Spanish: “Which chimi do you prefer?”
His response, in English, is not altogether surprising. “Ahhhhh, everything.” He smiles as he says it, revealing gold caps on some of his teeth.
I rephrase, still in Spanish. “What is most popular?”
He answers, “Ehhhh maybe Super.” He’s referring to the Chimi Super, which is a beef chimi. The man begins conversing with a woman behind the counter. They speak too quickly in Spanish for me to really understand, but they’re discussing my question and settle on the beef chimi as the most popular. So I order the regular Combo, called the Combo Quisqueyano. The Chimi Regular is also a beef chimi, but it’s a bit cheaper, so I’m assuming it’s just a smaller version of the Super. The combo includes a can of soda and some fries. The cost is $6.99. Not bad.
I wait. It takes a surprising amount of time. During that time, I ponder why no one orders chimis at Alex’s Chimis. Here’s what I think: it’s a matter of convenience rather than taste. Those who walked in and ordered chicken and plantains get their food within minutes. It’s already prepared, so they can just come in, order, pay, and leave. No problem. But the chimis are not already prepared. There’s a wait involved.
Finally, the woman at the register gestures toward me to indicate that my food is ready. I ask for the grape Fanta for my soda. I also ask her, since I’m a bit concerned that I should have ordered the Super, what is the difference between the Regular and Super chimi.
“El precio y el tamaño,” she answers. The price and the size. Okay, that’s good. I made the right decision.
I take my food and sit down at one of the handful of tables in the restaurant. I unpack my meal.
There it is. The chimi. It’s not huge, which is okay with me, since I’m not too hungry. Sub-sandwich-style bread for the bun, with a patty of ground beef smothered in ketchup and mayo. And I do mean smothered. There’s a lot of condiment on this baby. Finally, under the meat is some shredded lettuce and green tomatoes.
The fries are pretty standard. I could get the same stuff frozen at the grocery store. I could probably cook them better, too. They’re the kind with the wavy ridges that tend to be all squishy if they’re not fried long enough. You know the ones? Yeah, and they weren’t fried enough. Squish. So the combo was pretty unnecessary. Should have just gotten the sandwich.
The chimi, on the other hand, is good. Upon the first bite, I noticed a very distinctive, familiar flavor that I couldn’t quite place. I liked it, and I didn’t expect it, either. I finally realized it was garlic from the bread. A nice touch. Really, the flavor was good, but the combination of the garlic, ketchup, and mayo overwhelmed the flavor of the beef. There might as well not have been any meat on the thing. Which would have been weird, but the flavor wouldn’t have changed. There was really only one bite in which I could actually taste the beef, and it was pretty average. No special spicing or flavor that I could detect. Just ground beef.
So the meal certainly wasn’t bad. I definitely enjoyed the chimi, and the price was really pretty great, but it was nothing spectacular for my mouth. Just flavor cover-ups, if you ask me.
Sorry, Alex, whoever you are, but you can keep your chimis.