Market on Front breakfast burrito

The breakfast burrito at Market on Front is one of the most popular food items at the store. It features scrambled eggs, bacon, shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, seasoned breakfast potatoes and chipotle aioli.

There are ethical considerations when writing about some subjects — such as a little-known hiking trail or a fishing hole that might suffer from overexposure — but those rules don't apply to food items that are already popular.

The Market on Front breakfast burrito falls in that category. The downtown establishment sells about 350 to 400 on weekdays and even more on the weekends, according to incoming owner Dennis Round.

People have asked him if he plans on making any changes at the store — i.e., to the burrito — and he's insistent that he won't meddle with or eliminate his most popular menu item.

"I think there would be a riot in the street if I got rid of the burrito," he said.

The staff arrives at 5:30 a.m. to begin prepping the bacon (Daily's), the potatoes and the eggs (Western Montana Growers Co-op), Monterey Jack cheese, and the scratch-made chipotle aioli. There are also options for vegetarians (substitute spinach, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and green onions for bacon) and vegans (the veggie fixings plus sauteed tofu and avocado and a vegan aioli.)

They start rolling just before the market opens at 7 a.m. and don't stop until 11 a.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. on weekends. This typically means that there's not a long wait — just grab and go.

The location, a block away from Higgins Avenue, means that Saturdays are peak burrito days. The farmers markets already draw thousands downtown. If there's a Griz football game, it compounds demand, and they can exceed 600 burritos.

"The next benchmark is 750," he said.

One weekend, tailgaters called ahead to see if the Market could cater their get-together.

"We had two people, for the same game day, who wanted 300 apiece," Round said. It wasn't achievable, but "one day we'll get there, hopefully." 

The market, which opened in 2013, used to take orders at the kitchen and give customers a handwritten ticket to bring to the register. They might make 50 burritos a day, said breakfast manager Kaci Fox. Now customers order at the registers and leave the cooks to keep up with demand.

"We need, like, a T-shirt gun," she said.

Flavor, and more

Flavor should be the most important factor in any food. But what about convenience, portability and structural integrity? 

This burrito, wrapped in foil, is roughly the size of a decent baked potato. You could throw it to a friend some feet away, and it's tightly engineered enough to stay intact, although the experiment seems risky and there's no guarantee they would give the burrito back.

The sauce is applied generously but not so generously that it drips from the bottom. Chipotle seepage is not an issue. When driving, it's advised to keep your hands at 10 and 2, but witnesses have observed that the burrito can be easily consumed while piloting a vehicle without creating a mess.

According to Round, it's popular with fishing guides and anglers, who might pick up a burrito and a sandwich and have them "river-wrapped" in plastic to keep water out.

The particular combination of ingredients means it keeps well. Witnesses have also observed a hiker purchasing two burritos — one for the drive out to a day hike, and the second for lunch.

While compact, many people tell Round the burrito is just the right size. "Sometimes you can get a burrito that's huge, and you can't eat it all," he said.

There's an easy solution if one is not enough.

"We do get people that will come and get two of them, they'll eat two of them. We like those type of people."