14 years ago I suffered from a particularly unpleasant bout of food poisoning after eating a dodgy taco; ever since I have been weary of Mexican food. So when El Burro opened in Greenpoint, I wasn’t all that thrilled at the prospect of trying out what I heard was a homage to traditional Mexican cuisine. Combine this with my complete and utter fear of tequila, which has also given me uhhh… food poisoning so many countless times, so I was pretty much walking into a nightmare. This said, since I have been on two occasions, I am going to talk about both experiences blended into one.
El Burro has lots and lots of alcohol. On my first visit there I consumed a fair portion of both the wine and tequila lists (tequila seems like such a good idea after a glass bottle of wine) so on my second visit I decided I needed to keep it tidy. Instead of aiming to sample every shot of tequila which they have on offer, I kept it safe and went for a chilli margarita (R35). The drink was salty and sweet and had an understated heat to it which didn’t overpower the other flavours.
After devouring bowls of complimentary nachos and salsa, we decided against each having a starter. Instead we shared some chilli poppers although I have heard that their ceviche is worldclass. The poppers were smoked and served with pickled red onion, radishes and rocket and were light and crispy. I could have eaten at least 20.
I have always quite liked the process of making my own food at a restaurant, so I knew from the start that I was going to have the “Make-Your-Own” taco. I chose the flour variety as opposed to the corn taco and although at first it didn’t appeal to me, I decided to just go for it and have the fish option (R72). It was the first time in months that I haven’t had “food jealousy” because I thought my meal was fabulous. Crispy fish goujons battered with chilli, garlic and coriander; guacamole; sour cream; pickled red onion; tomato relish; and smoked tomato and aubergine salad all crammed into a soft taco and sprinkled with fiery fresh chilli and salad greens, served with refried red beans and rice. It. Was. GREAT. I tasted the chicken (R68) and the beef short-rib (R72) version of my taco too, I found the chicken a tad too lemony for my liking, but the beef was succulent and tender after being braised with chilli, paprika and oreganum.
The chicken enchiladas (R72) were also phenomenal: flour tortillas covered in spicy roasted tomatoes, topped with cheese and baked, then served with a side salad. My one friend loved her Grilled Prawn tacos (R90), which were tortillas filled with grilled prawns, lettuce, chilli mayo, guacamole and fruit salsa. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m a little bias because I don’t generally like fruit in my food. A friend had the Pork Carnitas (R75) 3 corn tortillas topped with a spicy tomato sauce, with twice roasted pulled pork and a trio of salsa’s. Since I don’t eat pork, she says, “The pork was crispy and the salsa delectable. It was a very generous portion”.
For dessert we shared the deliciously oozy Dark Chocolate Fondant (R42) served with vanilla ice cream and Churros (R25) which are Mexican doughnuts served with chocolate dipping sauce.
Although I don’t have the same innate love for Mexican food as I do for Indian food or of course, sushi, El Burro is a place I will definitely return to. It’s a vibrant, trendy restaurant whose owners value each and every one of their customers. It’s relaxed and comfortable atmosphere is something many restaurants could learn from.
Note to Self: Although the balcony is lovely and there are heaters and blankets, I must not sit on it on the coldest night of the year. Frostbite isn’t fun. (Alternatively, I could just man up.)