El Burro: Burritos to the max

May 3, 2017

El Burro:
Burritos to the max

May 3, 2017

Vienna Würstelstand's says

I’ll confess, I know the guys from El Burro. Pierre, manager/part–owner/head–chef, is a friend of a friend and we have partied some together, and so it was somewhat unsurprising the warmth at which he greeted us as we arrived: hugs, sterile high–fives, the works. While I would like to think that this is because he held me in high regard, it is in fact the way he treats everyone who walks in the door (ok, maybe not with hugs, but you get the point).


© Dana Daskalova

When we entered, the place had just emptied, as they cleared the baskets from the table, another one of the dudes, they are all ‘dudes/dudettes’ here, enters arms full of boxes of more tortillas. They’d been slammed at lunch, and while I hoped it was over so we could chat, my hopes were dashed as people started to filter in, hellos bounced back and forth off the walls as the three lads greeted and took people’s orders. Some people entered, literally just to say hello to the guys, to see if they were free for a cig or just wave and tell a joke. All of this, paired with Anderson Paak on in the background created a loud, but friendly and lively environment, it also meant everyone (at least seemed) super relaxed while Dana shoved the lens in their faces.


© Dana Daskalova

The rush gave us a chance to get action shots (I say ‘us’ but I was mainly parked in front of the homemade arcade box playing games, while Dana took the shots) and explore the place – not that it’s big, mind, but there are lots of little details, that not only exhibit the sense of humour and creativity, but also the success of the place. Amongst the wine crates used as shelves there are not only the typical bags of rice, Tex-mex cook books etc. that you would expect from a restaurant (they all have the cook books about these days), they also have some Pierre’s baseball caps, a personal touch, with meaning; I was to learn later that Pierre is prone to throwing random discounts at people for wearing certain attire, for example: for wearing merch from his American football team, or band shirts. And they are planning a 10% for anyone wearing WU Wear Clothing at some point. I won’t share when, or which team he follows, because that spoils the fun of it and the point, it is random fun he wants, surprise discounts, organised (at least partially) chaos. This random translates, is received and given back. One day a girl walked in called Anna, handed Pierre a picture, with only the explanation being that she liked what they do, she liked their style and it had inspired her to do this for them, another time someone came asking to buy a T–Shirt because they liked the logo so much, so now they sell their own ‘merch’–baseball caps coming soon.


© Dana Daskalova

The creativity about the place extends to the kitchen, where Pierre cooks up a storm. His monthly specials are divine, when we visited (February) it was Thai Porkbelly with Coconut Cabbage, this month it is rib–eye Bulgogi (a national dish of North Korea) with Kimchi – they don’t let national boundaries get in the way of their burritos, and neither should you! They use the specials as a way to test the water, some of the normal menu began life as a special; the peanut butter chicken (chef’s favourite), the quesadillas, but that should not detract from the brilliance of the actual menu, the burritos are girthy and stuffed with flavour, they offer you as many sauces as you want, but recommend only two, so as not to detract from the flavours of the fillings– we found the mango salsa particularly delightful, tasty and as refreshing as a sorbet, and the sauces are all home made. With the work that goes in, it is a surprise that they still have the bounce and cheerfulness to create the atmosphere they do.


© Dana Daskalova

I mention to Pierre, that I was surprised not to see them on line more, you know on the usual lists and websites, to which he nonchalantly replied he would rather cook good food, than be on the internet all day pushing stuff. But does it work I ask. ‘Yeah man, all our publicity is basically just word of mouth, and I prefer that’. Old school, and it obviously still works, as two girls enter, dragging their mum excitedly and explaining how she should order to her, Pierre tells me they sold 21,000 burritos last year (which when laid end to end would go around the ring twice, we worked out). That’s a fair number of burritos, and when you pair that with the number of avocados they needed (up to 40,000) the numbers speak for themselves, the internet isn’t everything (he types ironically writing for an online magazine).


© Dana Daskalova

Hoping for some magically holiday experience, I ask Pierre where the concept comes from, he explains that Brandy (of Shebeen’s, Johnny’s, Nelson’s), one of the four guys behind El Burro, has a concept for everything. Does that mean we can expect no more little El Burros popping up? Eventually, Pierre tells me, but first they have something else planned, an international kitchen, bar and club by Marx Halle called Nice Guys, that changes menu, and cuisine every three months. I ask who is doing the kitchen, ‘I am’, Pierre tells me, and my future summer 8 pack breaths a sigh of relief– soon I will not have to just eat burritos to enjoy Pierre’s’ skills.


© Dana Daskalova

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