If there ever was a place I would consider a ‘hidden gem’ in the twin cities area, it’s El Burrito Mercado.
It’s literally hidden. In the middle of nowhere St. Paul, Minnesota. You couldn’t find this place without a solid GPS, that’s for sure. It took me going there 3 times to finally remember the route, which is saying a lot because I’m pretty good at directions 😉
Once you get there, it’s all about the food. It’s a market (hence ‘mercado’) with the tiniest restaurant on the side. It’s pretty much cafeteria style, but they have a sit down restaurant around the corner. I’ve yet to eat at the restaurant portion because why would I want to wait long for my food when I can drop in and get a plate of tacos or tamales in 5 minutes flat?
That’s the beauty of this place. You get great quality, fresh food in the time it takes you to order a Whopper at BK. The fast service definitely makes up for the 30 minute drive across the city.
Let’s talk about the food. The menu is semi-small but it’s not lacking great options to choose from. They have everything from sopes (thick open face tacos) to tortas and tacos and huarache (oblong corn dough cooked on the griddle then topped with meat). They have anywhere from 5-9 different kinds of meat, depending on the day. My absolute favorite item on their menu is the tamales though. They’re tender and flavorful and everything I love about Mexico. Nothing beats the taste of fresh corn dough.
When it comes to Mexican food, I’m a firm believer in CORN tortillas. FLOUR tortillas are a joke in my book. Nothing should be put on a flour tortilla, not even cheese filled quesadillas. At El Burrito (we’re on a first name basis) they even serve their quesadillas on corn tortillas (picture above, along with their AMAZING tamales).
I can’t mention this place without talking about their breakfast menu. First of all, what Mexican place do you know that serves a killer breakfast? Maybe I’m a bit bias because they serve their tamales for breakfast, but I just can’t get over the fact that I can get a tamale, meat, two sides and tortillas for under $8. Crazy!! The Twinny swears by their breakfast chilaquiles with eggs, but I can’t not get tamales when I go.
Other food worth mentioning are their massive burritos and enchiladas (pictured at the top). I mean everything on their menu is destined to be killer since they have great meat options and they’re using corn tortillas. That’s a recipe for a solid restaurant! Plus I can go to the market on the other side, and pick up some plantains for lunch the next day 🙂