First Impressions: El Vez Burrito

El Vez Burrito roomEl Vez Burrito, as the fast-casual annex at El Vez in the Conrad New York building is known, is now open. It takes over the part of El Vez that abuts Blue Smoke. There’s seating for 16 at counter-ish tables and 7 at low barstools along a back counter. The space looks fantastic—it’s a tad more restrained that El Vez proper, with less kitsch (but an impressive wall of vintage Mexican posters.)

The menu (right) has a build-your-own option as well as especiales, including the hangover-friendly Frito Pie burrito—I say that as someone who loves Fritos—and the “classic Mission-style.” Ingredients range from the traditional to decidedly 2015 items like farro, kale, crispy quinoa, and napa cabbage kimchi. And there’s soft-serve ice cream in chocolate and horchata flavors, with six toppings, along with Mexican Coke (and regular soft drinks), beer, and margaritas. And free water, which is always appreciated.

On a trip to San Francisco in 1990, I stayed with a friend in the Mission, and the nearby Mexican restaurant had the best burritos I’ve ever had. I regularly ate two a day. Naturally, then, I had to try El Vez’s Mission-style burrito with carne asada. Was it as good as that Proustian burrito? Of course not; nothing could be. But it was very good, much better—and more professionally wrapped—than Chipotle’s, and regular visitors will be thrilled about the much wider array of choices. (Not listed on the menu: chips and salsa/guacamole.) On the other hand, there’s no mention of how El Vez sources its meat, which leads me to believe that Chipotle has the upper hand on that front. One last piece of advice: A sheet of paper or something like that would be very welcome. Nobody likes scraping burrito bits off a metal tray.

El Vez Burrito is currently open weekdays for lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), but weekend and dinner hours are in the plans. No delivery yet.

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