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Food & Drink

All of Centro’s Hippo Pocket Varieties, Ranked

We tried all the meaty, cheesy pockets from the new Eat Street ghost kitchen to determine which is best.

Photos by Em Cassel

A few years ago, Centro celebrated Halloween with a pop-up at Able Seedhouse + Brewery. The Northeast taqueria “dressed up” as Centro Bell, with a special menu of fast-food favorites inspired by T*c* B*ll. Among them: a riff on a certain folded, griddled, meat-filled tortilla disc they called the Munchwrap.

Centro brought back the popular pop-up item for a limited time in January of 2022, but it was ordered so often that they eventually just left it on the menu for good. A cease and desist from TB led them to rename it and reframe it as an homage last year—it’s now the Centro Crunch—but sales haven’t slowed a bit, with Centro owner Jami Olson telling Mpls. St. Paul Mag recently that there are days when it outsells margaritas. People love it.  

This March, Centro leaned into its griddled tortilla success with a new ghost kitchen concept called Hippo Pockets, a delivery-only joint operating out of the Centro location on Eat Street. Hippo Pockets riffs on that taco-seasoned original with a whole menu of tortilla-wrapped items, from pizza to a Philly cheesesteak. 

Armed with our love of fast food and an insatiable need to rank things, your friends at Racket decided to order the whole menu, pitting them against one-another to determine the top pocket. (We missed one, the Breakfast variety, because we ordered too late in the day. We’re also not writing a whole thing about the small S’mores option, which feels like its own thing; we’ll just say we wouldn’t get it again.)

Now, how much can you elevate a Cr*nchwr*p, really? Is the $11.55 per wrap price point worth it, compared with the $4.89 you’d spend on the TB original, especially once you tack on the requisite delivery fees? These are questions we discussed at length while dissecting each adorably wrapped Hippo Pocket—questions each of you will have to grapple with for yourselves, preferably in the comments of this very blog post.

Em Cassel

6. Pizza Hippo Pocket

Why, in the name of all that is holy, are there little chunks of so-called garlic bread swimming inside this Hippo Pocket? The carby globs resemble damp croutons more than bread, and their mere presence exposes the design flaws in this lowest-ranked menu item. There’s a reason calzones aren’t loaded with additional bread—the exterior is the crust corollary, as the tortilla should be here! In any case, that’s just where the problems begin. The paste-like filling veers from insanely salty to arbitrarily spicy, and its texture renders the whole thing one big, wet, floppy mess. It’s as if someone sat on a Hot Pocket. “Oh no, I just bit into a part of the garlic bread…” moaned one of our taste testers. What more do you need to know? (OK, a little bit more: If somebody was overcome by the munchies, they wouldn’t sneeze at this badboy; it is edible.)

Em Cassel

5. Chicken & Waffle Hippo Pocket

The yiddish word ungapatchka, meaning “overly ornate, busy, ridiculously over-decorated,” perfectly describes the Chicken & Waffle variation of the Hippo Pocket. As you’ll notice when you reach the top end of our ranking, these meal discs succeed when they’re streamlined junk food delivery systems, giving you familiar burger or taco sensations in a fun, novel way. Here, we’ve got disparate parts that aren’t bad, but they struggle to coexist inside a crowded tortilla. The chicken and waffle concept, which is reaching something of a shark-jumping moment in terms of its ubiquity in the snack space, suggests some syrupy notes that never actually materialize (though the damn thing is sweet). The specks of chicken are of apparent cafeteria quality, something you’d expect to surpass given the price point. As for the zingy ‘slaw? It was enjoyed by all. 

Em Cassel

4. Chicken Bacon Ranch Hippo Pocket 

This—this is the stuff that shines in a tortilla. Chicken, bacon, ranch. Don’t overthink it! The CBR Hippo Pocket is stuffed with salty, well-crisped bits of pork, with romaine lettuce and diced tomato adding welcome freshness. We get a hearty drizzle of Hidden Valley Ranch, which feels familiar and appropriately midwestern. The chicken, I mean… it’s still not farm to table. But we’re talking about junk food here, albeit elevated junk food, and unlike in the Chicken & Waffle pocket, you can forgive the McNuggety chunks when they’re wrapped in a package where everything else is working harmoniously. Speaking of McWhich: McDonald’s used to have these really great chicken Snack Wraps, and that’s kind of the flavor profile you’re working with here. It’s like a Snack Wrap with bacon. Solid B. 

Em Cassel

3. Philly Hippo Pocket

The simpler a food is, the more ways people find to fuck it up. (See: pizza.) The Philly cheesesteak is not a sandwich that requires great skill or imagination, yet somehow very few people this side of the Susquehanna can pull it off, and only a strange cadre of racist old Italian men seem privy to its mysteries. So, needless to say, our expectations for this cheesesteak tortilla were lower than Jose Alvarado’s ERA. Funny thing is, they got the hard part right and the easy part a little wrong. The meat has the thick consistency of a burger, instead of the thin, chopped steak-product your mouth is anticipating, but the snappy variety of peppers and gooey Whiz (or something a lot like it) combine with the grease of the meat for a taste that suitably resembles a Philly in its own inauthentically rewarding way.

Em Cassel

2. Royale Hippo Pocket

Some might ask: "Why would you shove a cheeseburger into a tortilla?" But others (us) would ask, "Why not?" Lately on TikTok, where no question remains unanswered (however incorrectly), folks have been whipping up their own tortilla-based interpretations of the Big Mac, and we bet most of their experiments aren’t this successful. (And you thought Centro was only trying to one-up Taco Bell!) Let’s start with the pickle, zingy and thick and evidence that they’re putting in some effort here, and then the sauce, which explodes with each bite and which you might as well call “special.” The burger itself is thicker and heftier than a fast-food patty (which isn’t saying much, we know) making for a nice lunchtime change of pace. You know what they call this in Paris? They call it a Royale Poche Hippopotame.

Em Cassel

1. Classic Hippo Pocket

The thing about hitting the TB drive-thru is you never know quite what you’re going to get. Sometimes you leave with a pretty great Crunchwrap, sometimes you get one that’s hastily assembled and appears to be missing a few ingredients. The Classic from Hippo Pockets is like if you got a really good one. It’s meaty and dense, and noticeably fresh, especially from a veggie standpoint. (The tomatoes were actually red, for example, which if you’re a Taco Bell regular, you know that isn’t always a given.) The vegetarian option we ordered could have used more beans and veggies and less sour cream, but overall this thing sings—great textures, nice flavor, just a teeny bit of heat. It's a classic for a reason.

Hippo Pockets
Delivery Only
Sunday - Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday + Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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