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El Burro Pollo lives

elburrosign

Chef Hector Santiago and the folks from Pura Vida recently ran a weekend outdoor food stand called El Burro Pollo. Unfortunately, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness got word of the operation and shut it down in addition to the French fry stall operated by the “Fry Guy.” The spuds fryer ran his operation just down the street from Hector and company, and across from the Buddy’s gas station lot where The King of Pops is still going strong.

Luckily, Hector and his wife Leslie decided to keep the street burrito concept going and now run it indoors in the space that outfits Super Pan, Santiago’s weekly Latin sandwich concept downstairs from Pura Vida. The catch is El Burro Pollo is only open on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. That only gives us a small once-a-week, three hour window to enjoy what has become one of my favorite spots for lunch.

Chicken burrito, El Burro Pollo

Chicken burrito, El Burro Pollo

Let me warn you though – El Burro Pollo’s 10 inch chicken burrito ($7) is not a rice, bean, meat and cheese monstrosity. A larger 14 inch ($11) is available but Hector fashions them in the same way he served them when he ran the outdoor stall. He grills large flour tortillas to a warm bubbly consistency, stuffs them with juicy shredded chicken (tofu is also available) swabbed in spicy red chile sauce, and then piles on a feathery fresh assortment of cabbage, cilantro, onions, radishes and carrots. Finally, the burrito is rolled and wrapped in paper and voilà — a Latin food cone chock full of flavor and ready for your enjoyment.

Pizza

Top: Pizza de cabeza, bottom: Spanish chorizo pizza

And the fun doesn’t stop there. El Burro Pollo also runs roaming specials. On my last two visits, I sampled the restaurant’s creative pizzas listed as special menu items.

On one occasion, I got a pizza topped with fatty pork head parts (cabeza, $9), garlic scallions, green chile cheese and thin chewy rinds of pig ear. A flour tortilla acts as the base (read: crust) of the pizza, then painted with a thin layer of Korean gochujang sauce, and baked with the ingredients until the tortilla transforms into a crispy charred crust.

Last weekend, the pizza special ($7) came topped with cheese, spicy bits of chorizo sausage, and a refreshing tomato wedge placed on each “slice.”

Judging from the manageable lines on my visits, El Burro Pollo feels like the neighborhood’s best kept lunch secret. But this food is too good to keep a lid on.

¡Viva El Burro Pollo!

El Burro Pollo, noon-3 p.m.Saturdays, 1057 Blue Ridge Ave., Atlanta. 404.477.0379.

Gene Lee, International Cuisine

Gene Lee, International Cuisine

- by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

– Gene Lee writes about International Cuisine for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Eat, Drink, Man… A Food Journal.

13 comments Add your comment

jimmy

June 8th, 2011
7:52 am

Jim

June 8th, 2011
8:49 am

Too bad the outdoor stand isn’t available any more – it was WONDERFUL! And so were Fry Guy’s Belgian fries. At least, we now have a strong food truck movement to satisfy outdoor dining.

no more....

June 8th, 2011
8:51 am

secret no more….wish i lived closer

starving hombre

June 8th, 2011
9:46 am

Hector Santiago is a beast!!! Its not even 10AM and im already hungry.

Hungry Gringo

June 8th, 2011
9:52 am

I’ve challenged friends and family to find a better burrito to no avail. The best part is when he starts to run out of ingredients towards the end and has to get creative with whatever he has left.

SP

June 8th, 2011
10:37 am

I know what I’ll be doing Sat for lunch…

Jim R

June 8th, 2011
11:14 am

Hector Rocks,,,Burrito is amazing…Need more like this in the area, too many of the same ol same ol Mex dishes. But please someone tell me why El BURRO Pollo…Am I missing something in translation?

Gene Lee

June 8th, 2011
11:27 am

@Jim R – Glad you asked. Burro is Spanish for donkey. Hence “burrito” translates to “little donkey.” There are various theories on why burritos were named after these animals:
- Resembles the animal’s floppy ears
- Packs that are heaved on donkey’s backs, etc..

So El Burro Pollo literally translates to “(the) chicken donkey,” or I’m presuming in Hector’s case — a play on “chicken burrito.”

Jim R

June 8th, 2011
11:59 am

Thanks Gene…Feel a little better …Good to know these things…I was afraid to eat vermicelli for years.. Now what about the FRY GUY…

Wino

June 8th, 2011
1:26 pm

Hector understands pepper heat better than any chef who has worked in Atlanta. Wish he could go back outdoors on Saturday’s. It had a good vibe.

The Blissful Glutton

June 8th, 2011
3:21 pm

Awesome news, Gene. I drove by on Saturday wondering what the story was, but was too lazy to stop. Damn. Looks like I missed some good eats.

nique

June 8th, 2011
5:10 pm

That place is great! Wish it was open more hours.

more summertime talk. « emily grim

June 10th, 2011
3:43 pm

[...] Salt popsicle from the indomitable King of Pops. I’m also determined to get my paws on one of Hector Santiago‘s tofu burritos, go to a laser show, and find a pool to swim in. One that is not made up of [...]