Down Eats: Dank Burrito in Morehead City

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) – There’s one restaurant that’s really hard to miss when driving into Morehead City. Maybe it’s the graffiti print, or possibly it’s the loud paint colors, but whatever it is, it’s attracting a lot of people for all the right reasons.

Dank Burrito started off in a humble food truck back in 2014. It was the goal of owner Clarke Merrell to serve up delicious tacos and burritos along the Crystal Coast.

But he quickly realized the food truck wasn’t going to be able to keep up with demand. That’s when he decided he would need to open up an actual Dank Burrito restaurant, supplemented with the food truck.

“I didn’t really think that we would need this much space, but we do,” Merrell said. “It got small really quickly.”

So small that now Dank Burrito is also opening up a Beaufort location in July.

“Dank Burrito kind of represents really good food, and a fun place to work,” he said.

Some people say they eat at Dank Burrito more than a hundred times a year. Other tourist say its a must-have each time they come to the beach.

“There’s nothing that isn’t good, it’s all good,” said regular Janet McCabe. “I’ve tried everything on the menu.”

While shooting our Down Eats segment, Merrell decided to feature two signature dishes. The first was an incredible blackened tuna taco.

Using fresh tuna caught off the Crystal Coast, Merrell starts by seasoning the fish liberally. He then moves on to a blackening seasoning.

“You know you hear the term blackened, and we’re not looking for the color per say, it’s more of the seasoning blend,” he said.

After seasoning, the fish moves on to the grill, where it cooks for a few minutes on each side. Once done, it’s put into a warm taco shell, and topped off with freshly made salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.

“We just kind of let the flavors marry together, and I mean it’s super fresh, and super delicious,” Merrell said.

Merrell said tuna is so popular there that they can go through 30 pounds of it on a busy day.

But he said nothing tops the popularity of the carne asada taco. He said they can go through 90 pounds of that meat each day.

“We use like a garlic and chili paste, it’s kind of the base of what we’re using, and then we have our seasoning blend,” Merrell said as he started seasoning the high quality shoulder tenderloin.

After seasoned, the meat going into the walk-in fridge for hours to marinade. Once done, it goes straight to the grill for a few minutes to sear.

But this isn’t your average taco. Merrell tops the meat off with kimchi, which he describes as fermented Korean cabbage.

Merrell said he strives to make every dish above and beyond any expectation. He said it is one reason people keep piling in the door for more.

“We had a great 2016 and folks have really enjoyed it and kind of caught on to our brand, and it’s been fun,” he said.

To read more about Dank Burrito, click here.

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