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.
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.
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.
- 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.