Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Painted Burro - a restaurant rave

I am lucky enough to be friends with a wonderful woman who is married to a wonderful chef. This makes me lucky because, as a single girl in my 30's, most of my friends are married, and having a friend who's married to a chef means she's husband-free a lot of nights. Not only do I have someone to play with, but I also get to go with her to restaurant-y events and eat delicious food. For example, I spent the two last nights at the "friends and family" pre-open nights of The Painted Burro, the new Mexican place in Davis Square. And now I get to rave about it!

Attending on two consecutive nights meant we could pace ourselves on ordering, and eating for free meant we could try pretty much EVERYTHING.

They began by bringing an adorable tin pail of delicious, warm, tortilla chips, and a small bowl of fresh salsa to the table. We ordered drinks - Margarita de la Casa, which I'll admit was a bit sweet for me, but also lime-y and tequlia-y, so that was good - served on the rocks in a funky glass. Then we got the ordering rolling with the Spicy "Vaquero"Nuts and Corn, which were yummy (I've never met a corn nut I didn't like) to start. Sticking to appetizers and tacos for the first night, we moved on to the Romaine Salad which was a nice Mexican spin on a traditional Caesar salad, and the Guacamole " El Mero Mero," which I'm pretty sure I would eat everyday for the rest of my life if given the opportunity. We got the guacamole with the optional fire roasted poblano and onion rajas - optional deliciousness.

Moving on. The next order was for two sets of tacos: Crispy Maine Redfish and Skirt Steak "Asada." Both were crazy tasty, but the steak ones were definitely the winners in my book. These aren't Taco Bell or Ortega tacos, by the way. These are solid and enormous tacos. The two that come on the plate could easily be a meal. Actually, one could probably be a meal, but I really like to eat.

As a crazy game time decision, we also decided to order the Chicken Liver tacos. I'll admit that these weren't my favorite. I heard afterwards that they might have been a little bit overcooked (it was the first night, that's bound to happen!), but it also could have been that I was already too full or that my childhood love of chicken livers might have faded since I actually now know what function the liver performs.

I had been thinking about what I was going to order all day and I knew our plan was to hit the entrees since we had skipped them the night before. Right away, we ordered two more house margaritas (why not?!), an order of the guacamole (plain this time), the Mizuna and Red Oak salad, and the Oxaca Cheese Grits (which are a side order). The Mizuna and Red Oak salad was awesome. I liked it even more than the salad from the night before. It came with yummy watermelon radish pickles and a tortilla "crostini" with papaya chutney stuff. I could have eaten that as a meal in itself.

The grits were also amazing. I actually had to ask Lauren to move the grits out of my reach at one point when I realized I was dipping deep fried tortilla chips into guacamole and then in cheesy grits. That seemed a bit gluttonous. But those grits were another thing I could have eaten as a meal in themselves, for the rest of my life.

For entrees, I had had my eye on the Flat-Iron "Asada" since the night before, especially after tasting the steak tacos. Lauren ordered the "Street Cart" Chicken since she is mindful of my dietary nuttiness and wanted me to be able to taste hers. Both of them were good. And by good, I mean ridiculously delicious. The chicken dish consisted of half a roasted chicken, flavored all the way through the meat, and cooked absolutely perfectly. I am usually wary of chicken in restaurants because it's so easy to accidentally dry out, but this was ideal. The steak was also cooked perfectly and came with grilled poblanos, green peppers, and charred onions. It was absolutely perfect. (And, I can now honestly say, totally reheat-able. I was the envy of the entire faculty dining room at lunch today.)

The decor of the restaurant is very rustic and funky (I would go for the faucets in the bathroom alone). They used a lot of reclaimed wood for the tables and chairs, and there is a lot of punched and
hammered tin and fun (if not creepy) art on the walls. 

Something I love about this restaurant is how much they are attempting to cater do people with different dietary restrictions. There's an Enchilada "Del Paraiso" on the menu that is all vegetarian, and also a veggie taco, which you hardly ever see. And while the food isn't necessarily inexpensive, there are options at different price points. Bar snacks start at $4, appetizers start at $9, and the tacos, which range from $9 to $14 ($16 for the super special chupacabra taco), and as I mentioned above, are definitely big enough for a meal.

All in all, I was blown away by the quality of food and service. I am pumped about all the other things on the menu I'm looking forward to checking out (short ribs!), since I'm expecting I'll be spending a lot of time at this place in the future, and the ones I want to go back to over and over again (holy guacamole!)

They open TONIGHT, so get going!

219 Elm Street
Davis Square
Somerville, Mass.

You can see a sample menu, and make reservations at!

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