Lunch at El Burro, Green Point, 13.05.12

The first time I visited El Burro it was because many people had recommended the new restaurant. Most South Africans think that the Mexican food that we have here is authentic but apparently it’s ‘tex-mex’, mexican food that’s been diluted with American flavours. El Burro’s intention is to provide authentic Mexican food, not heavily influenced by the States. With this in mind, I was excited to try authentic Mexican food since I love tex-mex!

I booked and on arrival we were seated at a window. I felt like a cocktail and asked the waitress to recommend something. She suggested a grapefruit cocktail. I told her I didn’t like grapefruits but she assured me that it was all mixed in and you could hardly taste it. I’m not such a fussy eater so I accepted her suggestion. When the cocktail arrived, it ONLY tasted like grapefruit so I have to give it to my partner.

For mains, I asked her to recommend something authentically Mexican, so she suggested the mole. I had no idea what a mole was but learnt it was a chicken-chocolate dish and liking both of those, I took her suggestion. When the food arrived it tasted really bad. I was pretty blown away because I went to boarding school so I’ll pretty much eat anything. I kept tasting the food and re-tasting it because I really couldn’t believe that I didn’t like it! But sadly, it really wasn’t to my taste and I sent it back. I left thirsty, hungry, out of pocket and obviously unimpressed. My partner had a steak which was ok but we never returned. To add insult to injury, the waitress saw my partner out in Long Street later that night and said, “I have no idea what your girlfriend was doing ordering the mole.” That really pissed me off, to put it plainly!!

Many months later, a friend of mine started working at El Burro and along with the rest of Cape Town, RAVED about the quality of the food. I was skeptical because I’ve literally never left a restaurant hungry before but after a few weeks she suggested I returned under her guidance. So last week I met her at El Burro and put my full trust in her.

For starters she ordered the chilli poppers “boats” (I call them) along with deep fried wraps which were filled with cheese and refried beans. I’m not sure what the name of either of these are but they were delicious. The jalapeƱos were smoked which gave them a really great, new flavour that I’ve not tasted in Cape Town before – and I love poppers! They weren’t too hot so you could enjoy the plate. The wraps, which looked like spring rolls, weren’t over filled so they were tidy to eat and tasted really good too.

For mains she ordered a special of the day, a steak (rib-eye was it?) accompanied by roasted red and yellow peppers, chips and smothered with herbs and butter oozing over the meal. INDULGENT but SO good! Beautifully char-grilled to medium perfection! We also had the soft tacos, made from corn not wheat, more authentically American. The tacos came with refried beans and a really fresh light slaw. I used all these things along with the extra condiments of guacamole, tomato salsa, sour cream, ground chillies and pickled onions. Our protein was pulled pork, protein and fresh veg, I was in heaven!

I never order dessert but we were going the whole hog today so my friend ordered the banana fried spring rolls with butterscotch / caramel sauce as well as a chocolate fondant. It’s actually the first proper fondant I’ve had in Cape Town. Usually you get something that hasn’t risen and had a solid cake texture inside, overcooked is the word. This was the complete opposite at El Burro. Our fondant couldn’t wait to get to us and started oozing on the way over, setting free a river of chocolate! Both deserts were accompanied by ice cream and pumpkin seed crackle and were really delicious. The fondant can be shared and the banana rolls weren’t too sweet.

I have to say that El Burra has totally redeemed themselves, I could easily eat there every week! It goes to show how important decent service is in a restaurant and I’m happy to say our previous waitress no longer works there. I know that’s mean to say but she really didn’t do the restaurant any favours. Thankfully there seems to be a way better team of staff, I was warmly welcomed, the service was attentive, food was fresh and didn’t take too long to arrive and above all things, was really delicious. Well done El Burro! I guess Cape Town is right, you guys do rock!

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