Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Review: The Blind Burro

A lot of deals for Restaurant Week aren't really deals, if you take the time to do the math. Try comparing the items on the prix fixe menu to the prices on the normal menu, and you start to realize that you're actually not saving anything, you're just having your options needlessly limited. Finding a good deal at a good restaurant takes a bit of research. So after some digging, I stumbled on The Blind Burro's offering: A three-course prix fixe dinner for $20? One where they don't try to up-sell you on adding truffle and lobster for another fifty bucks? Yes please; I'll take two.

Despite its location a mere block from the teeming Gaslamp Quarter, the vibe here is surprisingly subdued. Though we did go on a weekday, I got the sense that things never get too frenzied even on a busy Saturday night. The rustic-chic wood furnishings are punctuated with strings of hanging lights and black-and-white photos of donkeys (natch).

Since dinner was so cheap, how could we not order drinks? (Ahh, so that's how they get you!) Amy ordered a Michelada, which tasted more or less like a Corona with dashes of salt and other ingredients thrown in. Good if you like beer... but you could also just get a beer. My Verano Punch wasn't bad, but very much a typical Very Sweet Drink. It had a berry-like flavor, presumably from the pomegranate syrup, but lacked much of the passion fruit or basil mentioned in the ingredients.

We opted to keep it light for our appetizers—the right decision, in retrospect, as the accompanying tortilla chips were bountiful and ultra-thick. They were impressively crunchy and a bit greasy but not over-salted. The ceviche was indeed light and tart from the lime, and included boatload of shrimp plus a little scallop for good measure. The guacamole was good, nothing unusual, with plenty of onion and a welcome sprinkle of micro cilantro.

Next came the entrée course, which for Restaurant Week was necessarily the taco course. My al pastor tacos were filled with tender pork, well-spiced in their red chile adobo marinade. The sweet pineapple chunks were a welcome counterpoint to the savory elements, as was the tomatillo-avocado crema. The side of Mexican street corn was okay in small doses, but became overwhelming after a few bites due to the hot sauce and the sheer sodium overload of the cotija.

Amy's Mahi mahi tacos were also tasty, with a crisp batter and soft, flaky fish. The only downside was the overload of veggies; the pile of cabbage, onion and carrot escabeche practically smothered the mahi mahi. The side of vegetable slaw (a bit redundant in retrospect) was vinegar-tart and a bit spicy, full of peppers, carrot and corn.

By this point I was nearly full to bursting, so I was bracing myself for the churros—not traditionally a particularly light dessert. These were the softest, most delicately melt-in-your mouth churros I’ve ever had. Still crisp on the outside, but just beneath the surface? Smooth and fluffy as cotton candy. Naturally they were covered in a thick layer of that delicious cinnamon-sugar mixture (which we all know is 99% sugar). They came with a creme anglaise that added a nice element of creaminess, but wasn’t too sweet—it didn’t need to be.

In many ways, The Blind Burro is a pretty typical Mexican restaurant: casual, cheap (for the Gaslamp at least), and heavy on the tacos and tequila. Occasionally, though, as with those churros and al pastor tacos, a higher level of quality shines through. Use that potential, BB, and someday you'll achieve greatness.

Score: 6.5 out of 10 (Good)

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