El Burro Taqueria is a Mexican-themed restaurant in a bustling area in Cape Town and the sibling of El Burro in Green Point. The compact restaurant follows through with compact food.
The small portions encourage diners to order several items. The restaurant’s narrow booths and small tables are quickly laden with several small plates. A sharing portion of chunky guacamole and nacho chips brings the fiesta to the table. The steak quesadilla – laden with free-range ribeye, roast chilli salsa, queso fresco and fresh avocado – packs a lot of punch for its small-plate size.
Equally enjoyable are the tacos. The fish taco is a popular menu item, but it should watch its back because the beef, grilled chicken and pork tacos are equally festive and flavourful.
In line with the Mexican menu, dessert consists of a choice of either churros or paletas (artisanal ice pops).
The compact restaurant has a lengthy drinks list and boasts a wide variety. The El Burro franchise serves several tequilas – from Cabrito Reposado to Centinela Anejo – and has reduced the Margarita to a fine art. But the drinks menu also caters to the Tamboerskloof location with a selection of on-tap beers. Although the wine list is short, they serve good-quality tipple, such as the Doolhof Dark Lady Pinotage from Wellington.
Service is doe-eyed and overwhelmed. It seems that the restaurant is surprised by its own popularity – although the food is served promptly, it takes a while to get an order taken down and almost as long to pay a bill. They don’t take reservations, so a roomy booth is hard-won – but worth it.
The restaurant is festive and is in a buzzing area of town. Located squarely between trendy, residential Tamboerskloof and the commercial heart of Cape Town, the restaurant attracts a well-heeled after-work drinks crowd. It also speaks to a hip set of city-slickers. The décor is bright and colourful – from a bright, Instagram-ready green wall, to tiny white tables, the restaurant’s interior is funky and intimate. Don’t be surprised to find the small space fairly full, even on a Monday.
Parking in the Cape Town CBD is notoriously tricky and El Burro Taqueria is no exception. Be prepared to search as long for a parking space outside as you will for a comfortable seat inside.
The Mexican fare at this sister restaurant to the flagship El Burro branch in Green Point is served in small portions, with the intention of patrons trying a few things. Don’t worry, there’s a selection of El Burro favourites on the menu, too, such as their super smoky chilli rellenos (poppers). Authentic flavours are the name of the game, but there’s something for everyone, from spicy to mild and a few vegetarian choices, too. Nibble on chicharrons (pork scratchings) whilst perusing the menu of tacos, huevos and quesadillas, and keep an eye out for the specials blackboard on the counter. The fish taco is a great choice, as is the free-range rib-eye beef with chimichurri salsa. For dessert, enquire about the Las Paletas ice lolly flavours of the day, or go straight for gold with a portion of churros.
For a refreshing alternative to a margarita (which they do really well here), try a grapefruit Paloma, or go for an agua fresca if you want the taste without the kick. There is a compact but great selection of wines and beers, too.
Friendliness and efficacy varies from underwhelming to fantastic – it's the luck of the draw. But for the most part, service meets expectations and orders are delivered to the table efficiently.
Cheerful and festive is what springs to mind in this vibey little joint, with its colourful, contemporary interior, blonde wood and hanging plants. Located on a popular corner, it’s always abuzz with regulars and students.
They don’t take bookings, so be prepared to wait a few minutes for a table, unless you get there early.
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El Burro fans will be relieved to know that the chilli rellenos (chilli poppers) are on offer here too, and they deliver the goods. Oh-so smoky and incredibly tasty, they come opened up and crammed with hot melted cheese (not crumbed and deep-fried) and served with guacamole and sprigs of coriander in a neat little bowl (R15 each).
A ceviche starter (R40) explodes with fresh, zingy flavour of limes, coriander and tender fish – and might well ruin you for all other food.
Other starters include nachos (a non-hot-cheese slathered version) and the equites, deliciously sweet corn-off-the-cob with a subtle hint of lime and chilli, generously tossed with parmesan. Pretty addictive stuff!
Tacos are small, but priced between R30 and R35, with the idea that you order two or three of different flavours.
The fried fish tacos with baja-style smoked jalapeño and avo are delightfully light with the smoky kick of the chilli. While delicious, the jalapeños do slightly overpower the fish, however, so plan your mouthfuls accordingly. The twice-cooked chilorio pork with chilli and garlic is spicy and tender; it’s hard to go wrong with twice-cooked pork. The chicken tacos were tasty and the meat was super tender, but if you have a spice-loving palate you might find yourself craving a little bit more pizazz. A lashing of the El Burro chilli sauce on the table added the extra heat we were searching for. The vegetarian taco with roasted cauliflower and a chickpea peanut salsa comes served on a pretty blue taco – made from blue corn. The contents are pretty spicy, but there’s a pleasing peanutty undertone.
Save space for the gloriously crispy churros, sprinkled with crunchy sugar. Ask for a teaspoon with your order – you're going to want to finish every iota of the glossy dark chocolate dipping sauce. There are also paletas (ice lollies) in inspired flavours such as coconut and lime from the folk at Las Paletas.
All in all, it’s pretty delicious, flavourful food.
They don’t have any alcohol on sale yet, so we opt for the agua fresca (juice of the day) of pineapple, served with a touch of agave to sweeten the deal. Fresh, zingy and beautifully yellow, it goes down a treat with its friends, lime and coriander, which are ever-present in the food. The cinnamon-spiced Mexican hot chocolate has a pleasing layer of melting chocolate and chopped nuts hiding at the bottom, and comes with a cinnamon quill floating in it. When it’s available, the wine menu will be just 10 items long, but margaritas and craft beer should more than suffice.
The El Burro team excels at décor and, like their other spaces, this one looks like a Pinterest board brought to life. The space is sparse without being cold, with blue-and-white striped tiles, hanging pot plants and touches of blonde wood, and cheerful yellow stools. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer grandstand views of Lion’s Head, and allow sunshine to stream in, making the room seem cosy even on a very chilly winter’s day. The seats – on rather high stools – at counters along the perimeter are perfect for hipster-spotting across the road at The Power and The Glory.
Alternatively, nab a more intimate booth and hunker down with your tacos. Brightly coloured plastic plates somehow look rather sophisticated when adorned with a square of baking paper and a coriander-sprinkled taco.
The menu above the bar is a clue – you’re supposed to order and pick up your food here – but if its not too busy, the charming staff will serve you at the table.
Love the ceviche and the esquites here. I'm less excited about the tacos somehow - I feel like they need more sauce, lime juice or cheese (although I'm told that the chilli sauce on the tables is pretty great. Will try that next time). The beef quesadillas where fab though - a good option if you're after that melted cheese experience.