Burrito del Rio

Neighbourhood: Osborne Village
Address:
433 River Avenue
Phone: (204) 415-5600
Entrees: $3-$10

(2010 review)

Mexican cuisine has always been a small segment of Winnipeg’s diverse dining scene. Two years ago though, things began to change. The feisty flavours from way down south blazed a trail into the city with restaurants opening like Don Pedro’s Authentic Mexican Grill and Casa Burrito.

The trend continued, when Bonfire Bistro and Cafe Carlo owner Duncan Grant opened Burrito del Rio in the former Village Fish Cafe space last May.

The bright sunny yellow and desert orange stucco walls immediately lift spirits and put diners in a vacation state of mind. Decorative touches include a portrait of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, bright blue shutters and a colourful Mexican blanket.

Rather than going with traditional full-service dining, Burrito del Rio is a taqueria that serves favourites like burritos and quesadillas assembled at the counter (much like the Subway sandwich experience) using fresh, healthy ingredients.

True to its name “Burrito of the River,” the eatery’s speciality is the burrito. There are six mouth-watering fillings to choose from, including a vegetarian option of black beans with guacamole or sautéed veggies.

Diners customize their burritos by adding Mexican rice, pinto or refried beans, lettuce, smoky chilli-roasted corn, green onion, cilantro, shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Together, they create an exciting taste combination in every bite. Sauces include cooling sour cream and three types of house-made salsa ranging from mild pico de gallo to hot ‘n’ fiery roasted tomato chipotle.

Carnitas are moist strands of pulled pork slow braised in tangy sauce. To carnitas, we added house-made chipotle burrito sauce and jalapeños for extra spice. Burritos are available in two generous sizes (mediano and grande) and both require two hands to lift the monolithic wraps.

Alternatively, the less messy naked burrito offers the filling in a bowl without the wrap. Try it topped with medium heat salsa verde made of tomatillo and slow-cooked pollo achiote—zippy citrus-marinated shredded chicken that has a nice kick.

Tacos are a bargain starting at $3. Dividers help hold the shape of soft corn tortillas as staff generously heap on the toppings. Fast food versions often use ground beef; here, barbacoa are robust pieces of braised beef slow-cooked in bold ancho chipotle sauce.

Unlike the meat fillings, camarones (shrimp) are sautéed on the spot in punchy citrus glaze. Plump shrimp add a nice chewy texture and tropical taste to flour tortilla quesadillas. Each fold was evenly stuffed with sautéed peppers, onions and cheese.

Organic hand-cut taco chips can be added to any main for $1.50 or they can be ordered in a basket on their own. The house-made guacamole is noteworthy with its supremely creamy texture and fresh taste.

While there are no desserts on the menu, margaritas, sangria and imported Mexican beer, wine, soda and nectar juice are available to put out any fires.

Burrito del Rio is open Mon-Thu 11 am-10 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-11pm; Sun noon-9 pm.