A Styrofoam cooler of pre-made burritos dragged from dive to dive may not be the ideal format in which to sample a good burrito. Nevertheless, that’s just how Pepe Urquijo, a Bay Area expat, started his business B’klyn Burro Burrito (at Don Pedro’s, 90 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn) early this year, convinced that Brooklynites need Mission District-style burritos — the jacked-up, calorific packages stuffed with meat, cheese, beans, guacamole, crema, and salsa — even if they are served room temperature and cost $10 a pop. Judging from the company’s Twitterfeed, hundreds of locals agree, and they’ve posted photos of themselves stuffing their faces in bars from Clinton Hill to Bushwick.
B’klyn Burro still hawks at bars, but it recently found a semi-permanent home at Don Pedro in Williamsburg, a loud, grimey watering hole that only fills up when shows are booked for the stage. In the way back, Urquijo and his two cooks peddle from a window cut out of plywood, the facade to a small kitchen. The menu is scrawled on the wall in neon pen; it lists specials like pozole and chilaquiles. There is a caddy of salsas on the table to doctor the small basket of chips given with each order: the avocado green salsa smacks of cilantro, the toasted chipotle isn’t too sweet, a searing habanero is made with mangos, and the pico de gallo should be avoided in winter when fresh tomatoes taste like styrofoam. The escabeche — house-pickled carrots, jalapeños, and onions — is quite good; it’s firm and salty, and if it wasn’t just a free condiment, it could be eaten as rudimentary salad.
So how are the burritos? They ride in a red plastic baskets, wrapped in foil, as smooth and cylindrical as a PVC pipe. Fillings like carne asada, pollo, chile rellenos, and al pastor are distributed equally with the rice, beans, and cheese, as thoughtfully assembled as origami. Twenty feet from the kitchen, the burritos could be hotter, which doesn’t bode well for the ones traveling to bar crawls during blizzards (maybe after a few rounds this seems like a minor quibble). For a three-day-a-week pop-up to ask if you prefer black or pinto beans — or refried pinto or black beans…or a mix of the two — is like the bodega counter man tamping a fresh pack, unwrapping it, and lighting your cigarette for you when all you requested was Parliaments. “How’s was the burrito?” Urquijo asks a regular returning his empty tray to the kitchen, “It’s the shit, bro. Always!” Fist bump.
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city’s best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.