I still haven’t calmed down from the excitement of my trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. It feels like I was there last week (even though it was two months ago) and I’ve been craving the complex Oaxacan flavors since I stepped onto the plane to come home. My visit to The Painted Burro in Davis Square, Somerville with a group of Boston Brunchers was the perfect meal to transport me back.
From The Painted Burro’s signage and menu to the worn tables and colorful murals, every aspect of this Mexican restaurant and tequila bar contributes to the creatively fun aesthetic.
As we browsed the extensive brunch menu we received chips and salsa – these items were standard and worked well to hold me over until our food arrived, but what I loved most were the tiny chip bucket and candle holder. The latter reminded me of Oaxacan barro negro pottery designs.
The Iced Coffee Horchata stood out as I scanned the menu – a great combination that I had never seen before, plus I love horchata. It was mild, refreshing, and the sugar rim added a burst of sweetness. After I committed to this giant beverage I saw the Bloody Maria (Agavales Blanco, tomato juice, chipotle adobo, horseradish, pickled veggies) and wished I had given that a try…next time!
I sat across from Richard from The Passionate Foodie (very knowledgeable in wine and local drink trends and options), so it was lovely to learn about some of The Painted Burro’s Mexican wine offerings. While we weren’t sampling tequila at this meal, there’s a huge variety I’d love to explore, including 12 types of mezcal.
Guacamole ‘El Mero Mero’ with pork belly and roasted grape tomato. Simple with big chunks of avocado: everything guacamole should be.
These adorable empanadas are filled with local goat meat, three cheeses, and poblano rajas with a light salsa. With these appetizers I also tried the rich fundido with chorizo (featuring Oaxaca, Chihuahua and Manchego cheeses), which was delicious, and a big hit judging by the speed with which it disappeared from the bowl!
I’d been hearing about The Painted Burro’s Yucatan Meatloaf before I knew where the restaurant was, so I was excited to give it a try – not only because of their unique twist on this German/Belgian/American classic, but also because I had never tried meatloaf! The loaf is spicy ground sirloin with chorizo, ham, chicharron, green olives and toasted almonds over thick toast and red mole – from what I understand, that’s not your typical meatloaf (haha)! The meatloaf was complex and the almonds gave a nice textural variety. I could have done without the toast and I like black mole more than red, but this was a unique dish to try.
This impressive concoction is called El Montanero (fried eggs, chorizo con papas, charro beans, chicharron, fried plantain, burro rice, chipotle mayo, baja cream, crispy tortilla). The combination of sweet plantains with the savory ingredients over the crispy tortilla made every bite exciting.
I saved my favorite entree for last – the Vaquero Hash. Fried eggs, braised pork, roast potato, kale, nopales (cactus), poblano rajas, and chipotle mayo. This is one of those dishes I should have been cooking all my life, but just discovered with this meal. The fatty pork, smoky charred nopales, and fresh (cooked perfectly) kale created a rich combination of flavors that I couldn’t get enough of. On the menu it sounds like one of the more simple dishes, but it was by far my pick of the brunch.
We were full from our meal, but I can never resist dessert. Pictured above is the Chipotle Chocolate Helado (ice cream) and we also tried the coconut avocado ice cream. Both were incredibly creamy and flavorful. I need to find a few of those little metal bowls!
My last flavor from this amazing brunch was a paleta de elote (corn popsicle), which was similar to nieve de elote (corn ice cream) I had in Oaxaca, but slightly creamier and on a stick. As you can see, everything was presented with such attention to detail – it made for a special meal that I’d love to have again.
The Painted Burro’s bar began to fill as we were finishing our meal. This seems like a great cross-over restaurant from filling brunch to late-night drink spot. I look forward to coming back soon!
The Painted Burro, 219 Elm Street, Davis Square, Somerville, MA
My meal was provided free of charge through the Boston Brunchers. The Painted Burro knew we were dining as a group of bloggers for this meal. As with all EatingPlaces content, opinions are my own.