Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Jan. 24
The Tacoburger: Part Five
Downtown's Blind Burro puts an upscale twist on the humble tacoburger.
Nobody ever said the tacoburger would be forever relegated to plebian restaurants. Nothing stops high-concept ventures from mining taco shop culture and developing a next-generation burger for the upwardly mobile. In the restaurants Downtown, some of which are as far from Benny’s as can be, tacoburgers make occasional appearances on menus rife with craft cocktails and “house-x’d” items of all stripes. Above-average Saltbox at the Palomar rocked out a luxurious taco burger for a while, but it’s gone now. The Blind Burro on the corner of 7th and J street lets it all hang loose with a tacoburger all its own.
Before getting into the burger, it’s worth looking at the Burro all on its own. The place is a glorified taco shop, despite the self-designation as “Baja coastal cuisine,” and the easy use of catchall “Baja-Med” by anyone who talks about the place. There’s nothing wrong with being a juiced-up taqueria, but it is weird that few people would put Blind Burro and, say, Ponce’s in the same category. It just proves that it’s amazing what you can do with some snappy language and mood lighting!
Blind Burro’s burger uses ground brisket, which is a very fatty cut of meat. The resulting patty has a velvety texture, though the grind on the meat is almost too-fine. Instead of standard-fare yellow cheddar, the kitchen tops the burger with queso oaxaca (a soft, white cheese). Rajas (grilled green chilis), chorizo, and an undetectable mayonnaise finish things off. BB’s burger gets cooked on a grill, not a griddle, so the chorizo pinch hits for the sizzling plancha, giving the burger that greasy, taco-flavor. Instead of fries, the burger comes with one of the restaurant’s side dishes. Best bet is the TJ-style corn, which is too civilized to be truly street, but good nonetheless. The triple cheese chili sauce looks like vomit in a cup, and the Tuscan kale slaw seems oddly out of place. Yup, best to go with the corns!
At $13, it’s the most expensive of the tacoburgers, but also the most elaborate. Is it “better” than Benny’s? Ponce’s? Any more working-class burger, for that matter?
Maybe. But that’s not really the point.