The secret of El Barrio Burritos' success is quite simple: excellent food.
The small, friendly Mexican restaurant across the street from Hoboken City Hall has been one of the mile-square city's premier take-out places for more than five years. With a philosophy of providing patrons with fresh, healthy and tasty traditional Mexican meals, El Barrio is downtown's quick solution to a hungry appetite.
"Our menu is based on a healthy concept low in fat, low in sodium and with no preservatives," said El Barrio's owner, Robert Descailleaux. "I love our location. Everything in the menu we make fresh here."
Executive chef Gregorio Santiago's new and expanded menu features more than three dozen entrees, and a variety of appetizers and side dishes. A few of El Barrio's top entrees are: the Buffalo Bill burrito ($7.75), served with rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, corn, pico de gallo and chunks of beef; grilled portabello mushrooms soft shell taco ($5.95), served with lettuce, jack cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo; chimichanga deluxe ($8.50), served topped with enchilada sauce, served with melted cheese and salad; ranchero grilled burrito ($8.25), served with grilled steak and boulder potatoes topped with spicy chili; and el Diablo enchilada ($7.95), served with two corn tortillas filled with beef topped with chipolte hot sauce and jalapenos.
Despite not having the luxury of a fancy dining room, El Barrio is well decorated with authentic Mexican movie posters, sombreros, and folkloric paintings by Descailleaux's sister.
"I love Hoboken. I've made a lot of friends here and the people enjoy our food," Descailleaux said.
The service is superb, and they also sell traditional Mexican sodas.
I began my meal with a bottle of Jarritos Mexican soda ($1.50) and a bowl of black bean soup ($2.75). Served with a classic recipe of veggies and just a little bit of sour cream, the soup was thick and tasty. The traditional soup goes well with rice and it complements most Mexican entrees. Other appetizers at El Barrio include tortilla soup ($2.75), Mexican taco salad ($6.50), chili con pollo ($4.25), guacamole and chips ($4.95), and nachos ($5.95).
After the soup, I enjoyed the terrific La Chupacabra burrito ($7.95). Served with char-grilled strips of steak, Mexican rice, black beans, romaine lettuce and pico de gallo, the large entrée was a burrito made in heaven. Recommended by Descailleaux and one of Santiago's specialties, "La Chupacabra's steak strips" were cooked medium-well in a traditional spicy sauce. I also tried the cheese quesadillas ($3.95). Served in flour tortillas and topped with sour cream, the side dish was the perfect complement to La Chupacabra.
After my delicious entrée, I had flan ($2.50). Prepared in traditional Mexican baked vanilla custard, it is a very sweet dessert. Other desserts include cinnamon nachos ($2.75) and apple chimichanga ($3).
El Barrio Burritos is located at 89 Washington St. in Hoboken. It is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. They offer an extensive lunch menu, vegetarian menu, a children's menu, and they cater private parties. They accept all major credit cards and for more information call (201) 963-8686 or visit www.barrioburritos.com. q