Shrimp a la diabla with a macholada
â€‹Photos By Terry Brennan
JASON: St. Paul’s El Burrito Mercado is more than an incredible Mexican grocery store and counter-service burrito joint. The Silva family also runs a fabulous sit-down restaurant, El Cafe y Bar.
JOY: It’s still run by Milissa Silva-Diaz, the oldest daughter of the founders and the CEO of this multi-million-dollar operation. Growing up, my best friend’s mom was a transplant from Mexico, and we would drive the 3½ hours down here just to shop at what was then a small market.
JASON: Don’t hesitate to pay $2 for the chips and salsa: The chips taste more of corn than most, and they’re heavy, the perfect vehicle for the smoky, roasted chile arbol salsa.
JOY: I’m always drawn in by the corn roasting out back. Stock up on the best deli-made ceviche in town, and tuck into the hearty portions served in the restaurant. You can’t beat the sights and smells here—all reminiscent of Mexico.
JASON: I’m always on the lookout for a great mole sauce (a blend of chocolate, peppers, and peanuts), and El Burrito Mercado’s Mole Poblano Chicken is excellent. With more than 30 different spices, this is a time-consuming sauce to make, and the cafe nails the balance among smoky, spicy, and sweet.
El Burrito Mercado interior
JOY: The enchiladas, in their bright, punchy sauce, remind me of the best street stalls in Mexico City. The shrimp a la diabla make for one of those dishes I crave: spicy, tart, garlicky, sauce-doused jumbo shrimp.
JASON: I barely got to taste my 10-year-old’s quesadilla before he inhaled it. El Burrito Mercado fills many traditional Mexican dishes with your choice of nine different meats, and this quesadilla was about two-thirds barbacoa and one-third cheese.
JOY: I can’t imagine ever leaving here hungry. It’s a diverse selection of Mexican dishes from all across the country.
JASON: Don’t forget about the great bar. The mildly spicy cucumber margarita is well worth $10, but my pick is the Macho-Lada: a giant, 40-ounce mix of beer, clamato, and spices, a bargain at $6.50, and perfect for a macho food critic such as myself.
El Burrito Mercado Quick Tips
Parking: There is a huge lot and plenty on the street
Dine in and take-out: There is a grocery store, bakery, bar, restaurant, and take-out market all onsite
Eat and Learn: El Burrito hosts classes on cooking Mexican classics
El Burrito Mercado
175 Cesar Chavez, St. Paul, elburritomercado.com, 651-227-2192