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El Burro (Newlands)

El Burro (Newlands) Write a Review

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Cost
R100 avg main meal
Ambience
Comfy & casual
Food
Mexican
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Kate Wilson

Finding a menu that doesn’t feature a chicken schnitzel and or sushi with sweet chilli sauce in the southern suburbs, is like finding a VW Golf in the Woolies parking lot. So when El Burro announced they were opening on Dean Street in Newlands, I caught myself in an involuntary Mexican wave. As one of my colleagues said, “Even hipsters grow up. And then they move to the suburbs.” And thank all the gods of Chichen Itza, I say.

Food

I was already a fan of El Burro in Green Point (to be referred to as GP from here on in), so my expectations were high. Currently, the menu is very similar, aside from the grilled tuna tacos, rather than simply linefish, pork belly tacos instead of carnitas and ceviche de carne, a kind of Mexican steak tartare starter, as well as linefish ceviche (this is the land of the oversized SUV after all).

Most of the donkey favourites are here too, including the slow-braised goat, and authentic chicken mole. There are not as many veg options, but there is an aubergine mole quesadilla that sounds promising.

We try the mouth-searingly good pan-seared squid with chilli, lime and coriander and the chilli rellenos to start – the benchmark of a good Mexican joint. They are arguably better than the GP version. Fatter, smokier and stuffed with more queso fresco than I remember. Score 10 points for the ‘Burbs!

I order the lightly-battered linefish tacos as a main and when we manage to wrestle them out of the evidently over-subscribed kitchen, they are happily excellent. Light and crunchy inside the classic corn tortillas with all the trimmings. More points.

I love that El Burro serves seasonal Las Paletas popsicles (the watermelon and mint would have been a knockout ending here), but a Mexican restaurant must be judged by its churros. These were piping hot – so freshly-made – if a little doughy. Not bad; not exceptional. But my only major criticism of the food would be that at over R100 for a main course, they could be a little less frugal with the tacos and guacamole. I’m greedy that way.

Drinks

Eventually, there’ll be enough tequila cocktails to lubricate the post-rugby crowds, but they don’t have a liquor license just yet. For now, you can BYO.

Service

This was quite poor. Not unusual for a very busy, restaurant only in its 2nd week perhaps, but they will need to up their game or risk the ire of the SUV set. We had to queue even though we’d booked (no one cared), our waitron left mysteriously halfway through her shift, the wait for the main course was overly long and the maitre’ d was strangely bemused by all of it.

Ambience

The interior is in keeping with the GP branch, with the same booths and quirky, decorative details, and the happy addition of some courtyard seating (more points for the ‘burbs!) There are space constraints however, and it can get loud. In other words, book a table for a night out with friends if you’re feeling festive, not for awkward Tinder dates or anniversaries, okay?

(December 2016)

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food

User reviews

  • I had dinner at El Burro last year November 2016 when in Cape Town. Food was very interesting and enjoyable, atmosphere interesting, service seemed lacking on that day. I only just registered to do reviews - so cannot remember more detail. However, I would go back when in Cape Town.
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  • How disappointing. Calamari was plain, chicken tacos unexceptionable, and the vegan cauliflower far too salty in a floury tortilla. Margherita was watery, bitter and small. (R52). Visted the Greenpoint restaurant a year ago and was similarly unimpressed. Service was great.
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  • I have now been to El Burro in Newlands 3 times since they opened, and had a great experience each time. We usually share a few starters - the chilli poppers (grilled not fried) and esquites (delicious corn side dish) are favourites. The devastation of the pork belly taco being taken off the menu was alleviated by the the pork carnitas - 3 pulled pork soft tacos served with 3 different salsas, which gives a nice variation (although that pork belly is back as a special). The place is usually heaving, which can make it very noisy, so if you're any more than a table of 6 you won't be able to hear. Request a booth next to the window for a bigger table (in the restaurant bit, not the bar bit). Service is good, but can be a wee bit slow due to the busy-ness, but there is generally someone to hail should you need something.
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  • Living close by, I was very excited for El Burro to open in Dean Street. However, I was unfortunately disappointed when visiting for the first time. We managed to get the last available reservation for a Friday night, and was seated at a booth in the bar area. This was not ideal as it would turn out that smokers stand right outside the windows on the street (and not obeying the no smoking 10m from an entrance rule) and chat to their friends through the windows while smoking. The bar itself is also very noisy, and it can be expected that it will only get noisier once the liquor license is obtained. The menu on the other hand seemed promising. The chilli poppers, albeit small, was tasty, and for mains the national Mexican dish was the highlight. The enchilada was smothered in cheese as well as served with sour cream, which made it the sauciest of the mains we had, and the chorizo quesidillas paled in comparison, as it was dry, small, and very salty. The churros were crispy and golden on the outside and a little undercooked on the inside. However, one portion was good enough to share between three, just to have a taste each. All in all I was disappointed, more so with the ambience, and underwhelmed by the food.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Beer served
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food

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