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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Burro Blanco: The tiny hole-in-the-wall bringing Mexican street food to Abu Dhabi

The spot in Khalidiyah is worth visiting for the avocado fries alone and there are healthy and vegan options too – white rice can be replaced with cauliflower rice or quinoa

Blink and you could miss this tasty little gem – tucked away in the capital behind car parks, buildings, a petrol station and a hotel.

Burro Blanco is a window-in-the-wall restaurant in the backstreets of Khalidiyah that resembles a food truck, but is completely stationary. While relatively new to the Abu Dhabi food scene – it opened in May – the establishment is already getting its fair share of attention.

You could be forgiven for thinking twice about standing outside in the heat and humidity of the summer to place your order, but you can park and order too – and many customers are doing just that to get their Mexican food fix.

For those willing to brave the heat, patrons can stand outside to eat if they choose to – there are painted barrels that act as tables for those wanting to grab a quick bite.

The menu is simple and includes burritos, tacos, ­avocado fries and quesadillas, as well as Jarrito Mexican sodas and the Mexican rice beverage horchata.

Quesadillas:

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The outlet is Saied El Hakim’s baby. “We saw an opportunity in Abu Dhabi ­because no one was really doing good street food or burritos,” says the chef from Canada.

El Hakim says that many of his customers can’t get enough of the Burro Blanco burrito, which can be filled with anything from adobo steak to beef chuck or chicken. It can be customised for vegetarians and vegans, too, using a base option of roasted pumpkin squash, sauteed peppers and onions, or a mixture of both. The 12-inch burritos and burrito bowls start at Dh38.

One of the things I like about the place is that those who want healthier options can get them here as well. White rice can be replaced with cauliflower rice or quinoa, and for those who prefer a more plant-based meal, the vegan-si is worth a try. It consists of sweet potato, black bean mash, green mango, fresh coriander, guacamole and pico de gallo and costs Dh25.

El Hakim says that the avocado fritas (Dh23), fusion food mixes of arancinos (Dh20) – a Mexican take on arancini balls – and la poutina (Dh24) – a Mexican twist on Canada’s famed poutine – are exclusive to the Burro Blanco menu.

The arancinos:

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What differentiates this eatery from other Mexican outlets in the capital is the quality of the food. “Our food is fresh; we use very good ingredients,” El Hakim notes. “Our avocados are straight from Mexico and we get them naturally ripe. Our beans are dry and come straight from Mexico. All of our ingredients are prepared every single day.” Burro Blanco also uses paper bags, wooden utensils and paper straws over plastic varieties in a bid to reduce wastage, which is admirable in itself.

At the moment, there are no plans to expand beyond its current hole-in-the-wall premises. However, for those who want the same food in a different location, Burro Blanco will take up residence within the Urban RetrEAT area of Yas Mall from December for three months.

Burro Blanco is in Khalidiyah, next to Bas Man’ouche (where Julie’s Restaurant used to be). It is open from 11am to 10pm, Saturday to Wednesday; 11am to midnight on Thursdays; and 4pm to midnight on Fridays. Call 02 309 3911 or WhatsApp 058 582 8776.

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