Spilling the Beans at the Taqueria

7/11/08

When I visited Palo Alto earlier this year, an attorney at a big law firm specializing in intellectual property told me about a mythical eatery in Silicon Valley—Mountain View’s Taqueria La Bamba. At lunchtime, a mix of suits and engineers line up outside the small Tex-Mex restaurant. According to the story, while they are waiting to go inside and get their burritos, people start to talk to each other, brag a little about the projects they are working on, and trade gossip from their respective workplaces—in clear breach of every hush-hush policy their managers have tried to impose. In short, spilling the beans while waiting for the beans.

In this way, the queue at La Bamba has become an information exchange, helping people hunt for new and better jobs, learn about their competitors’ hot projects, and connect and get ideas for new great startups. One could even speculate that one reason why there are a bunch of in-house restaurants at the Googleplex is to keep Google employees from La Bamba peril.

But that’s not the way things work around here, a venture capitalist told me when I came to Boston. In his view, the networking on the East Coast relies much more on organized events—Mobile Monday, Tech Tuesday, and the like.

Well, I’ve got news for you. Earlier this week, standing in line outside Xconomy’s favorite burrito place, Boca Grande Taqueria at First Street in Cambridge, I couldn’t help but overhear a discussion between the guys just down the line from me. Evidently, their new prototype is really fascinating stuff, but they are two weeks behind schedule.

No, I don’t know which company they came from, but I bet I’ll be able to figure that out if I just keep having chicken burritos for lunch for a few more days. Boca Grande is well on its way to becoming the La Bamba del Este. And who knows, some day even those folks at Google’s new lab in Cambridge might feel like having a lemon chicken burrito with pinto beans.

Erik Mellgren is a Swedish journalist who worked for Xconomy Boston in 2008 as part of the Stanford Innovation Journalism Fellowship program. His real job is with Ny Teknik, a leading technology and innovation magazine in Sweden, but he loved seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. Follow @

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  • http://www.Northengland.com Dara Khan

    I love Boca Grande….maybe if they stopped making such great addicting Burritos they would be able to quash the release of proprietary information!

  • Blap

    Wow. This shows how far this region has to go…part of the reason people hang out at La Bamba and other valley haunts is not just the ambiance and the networking…the food is actually GOOD, so you can do a real business lunch there.

    The stuff they serve at Boca Grande is what they would throw AWAY at La Bamba, El Tonayense, El Faro, etc.

    Better to stick to what New England does best, though it’s arguably a lot harder to do a deal over a piece of boiled cod…Just sayin’…

  • Wade Roush

    @Blap: I totally disagree. Maybe we East Coasters just don’t know the meaning of real Mexican food. But in my opinion Boca Grande makes the best burritos in Boston. The ingredients are always super fresh and tasty, and the staff are always pleasant. Plus you can smell the beef and chicken grilling from blocks away, so by the time lunch rolls around you are more than ready to wait in line.