First Taste: El Burrito Minneapolis

The popular St. Paul Mexican restaurant opens in south Minneapolis

First, a confession: I love El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul. I love the energy, the grocery selection, that beautiful butcher counter, the fabulous Mexican bakery, the bar and restaurant. We revisited it recently. So when news broke that Milissa Silva was going to open an outpost of El Burrito in the old Pepitos space at 48th and Chicago, I was excited. And so was the neighborhood.

Next, a warning: This place has been jam-packed since it opened last week. The kitchen and bar team are working like crazy to keep up, but if you’re in a hurry, I’d recommend waiting a couple of weeks before checking it out. I love that El Burrito Minneapolis is cooking Silva’s mom’s and grandmom’s recipes. This isn’t modern Mexican; this is family, home-cooking Mexican.

Many of the favorites from St. Paul are on this menu: the spectacular lime/jalepeño cactus salad, the chicken mole (my favorite mole in town), the guisados (various meats you can have as a burrito or a platter). But there are lots of surprises, too.

I adored the Volcan: four thick, corn-tortilla street tacos with beef carne asada, grilled chiles, and a creamy avocado salsa. Spicy, rich, fun. The tilapia veracruzana was packed with flavor: sautéed tilapia with a generous seasoning of mild peppers, onion, and fresh tomato. And just $13!

Tacos gobernador were a nice appetizer—sort of like an open-faced quesadilla with chihuaha cheese and grilled shrimp. And my 10-year-old went nuts for the tacos Americano: two tacos stuffed with spiced ground beef and then deep-fried.

The bar is going to be a huge attraction. It’s big and vibrant with tons of tables and a performance area that will have a DJ on some nights, salsa dancing on others. The cocktails were impressive—many mezcal options, including a Negroni. Very fun.

Dinner only for now. El Burrito Minneapolis hopes to add lunch in a month or two. I was impressed by how many families with kids were at the restaurant. There’s real desire for their neighborhood to have their local Mexican spot back. I don’t think it’s just going to be for the locals, though. El Burrito Minneapolis will hopefully introduce the west side to the terrific, authentic cooking that St. Paul’s been enjoying for decades.

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