El Burrito - 934 Harden Street

Posted by The LunchMen Thursday, November 19, 2009

I want to make something perfectly clear from the beginning of this article - If I was not duty-bound to reflect the opinions of my fellow Lunchmen in my posts, El Burrito would easily be the latest addition to the Boo List. I understand that many Columbia residents hold El Burrito in high esteem. For years, I have tried to give El Burrito chance after chance to win me over. I am finished with trying.

Many folks try to persuade me to like El Burrito by appealing to the fact that I like restaurants that use fresh, local ingredients in their fare. I'm told that El Burrito does this, and certainly I will not dispute how fresh the food has been on most of my trips - except for the terribly acidized salsa I have had on certain late afternoon occassions. However, lets not lose the forest for the trees, people. Ingredients are simply, well, just ingredients. It does not matter if the produce was hand-picked in the Garden of Eden if the restaurant churns out food that is neither satisfying or delicious. El Burrito fails to deliver on the final product.

At some point, I've tried about everything on El Burrito's menu - basically, it consists of burritos, tacos, nachos, and beans and rice. Pretty standard taco shop stuff. Being a huge fan of, yes, black beans, I ordered some beans and rice (with the works) and a beef taco for lunch. Perhaps due to the large hippie wrap on the head of the person taking my order, I was provided an order of beans and rice and a bean taco. But hey, like I said, I like black beans.

However, when I dove in, the beans had no flavor at all. Even with the green sauce and the gratuitous serving of broken down sour cream, the dish was bland and drab. I was shocked to later learn that the beans were fresh (allegedly) rather than canned. I tasted no freshness at all. With the intent of infusing a little flavor, I added some chopped pepper and hot sauce. All this did was make my beans and rice unpalatably hot. As it included the same ingredients (except the addition of too much lettuce), suffice it to say my taco was equally depressing. It was so poorly constructed that it had to be eaten with a fork - the result of El Burrito's use of undersized, inadequate tortillas. Boooo.

My fellow Lunchmen cry "foul," alleging that I simply ordered poorly. Alas, I do not make the menu at El Burrito. If they have drab, boring, underseasoned, and ill-constructed food on their menu, then I should not be blamed for ordering it. Rabbit claimed that his salad was delicious - so I used his dish as the picture for this entry. However, he readily admits that he had to spend $12 to custom build a salad to his liking. Similarly, the Publican, who is so quick to fly to the defense of El Burrito, had to customize a taco with both a hard and soft shell to add "structural integrity." El Burrito, take a trip to Charlotte, try Cabo Fish Taco, and beg them to teach you how to build a taco using proper tortillas!

To be fair, Tex and Kali were pretty satisfied with their tacos and bean salad, respectively. The only universal complaint from the Lunchmen is that the food is very overpriced for what you get from El Burrito. I can assure you that this home cook can soak and prepare some black beans, pan fry some rice, and throw the standard accoutrements together for less than $7 per serving. Moreover, my dishes would actually be properly seasoned, properly proportioned, and taste good. As far as this writer is concerned, El Burrito is an overpriced, underwhelming experience that will be avoided in the future.

- Tank

El Burrito on Urbanspoon


  1. The Publican Says:
  2. This is the most ill-founded, visceral post I've ever seen here. As a guest columnist, I'm frankly ashamed to be associated with a contrarian blogger who is more interested in spewing venom and generating shock value than objectively evaluating a restaurant. Personally, I eat at El Burrito at every opportunity. The service is excellent and quick. The atmosphere is friendly and inviting. The beef is so well seasoned and prepared it makes Tank's criticism laughable. The only legitimate criticism is that the tacos are difficult to eat because they come apart - which is why veterans go with the taco wrap or chow down with a fork. The salads are always fresh and the well chosen ingredients are well apportioned. The hot salsa is on par with the most delicious I've had, the delectable green salsa at La Taqueria in San Francisco's Mission district. In fact, the burritos, while decidedly different, are as close to La Taqueria on the all important delicousness scale as I've ever gotten in South Carolina. I'll even admit that I've had a few lackluster meals at El Burrito over the 9+ years I've dined there - but a guy who orders a bean taco with a side of beans and loads them down with an obscene amount of hot peppers and hot salsa (albeit delicious hot peppers and hot salsa) is asking to be disappointed.

    - Publican

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. Poorly constructed!? These are tacos we're talking about, not bridges. That's like complaining about spaghetti not staying on your fork.

  5. Anonymous Says:
  6. I've eaten there numberous times on suggestion from friends. I'm not impressed with the flavor of this food at all. However I do feel like it's pretty healthy. After eating there regularly for a while I don't go there much anymore.


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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.