There are only a few restaurants around the country dedicated to making lamb barbacoa, and most have found their way onto my to-do list. But what I’d yet to find was any Mexican eatery serving a lamb burrito.
4280 El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights
That’s not a complaint: most days, I’d choose a plateful of lamb tacos over a burrito anyhow. But when I spotted such a thing on the menu of El Borrego Restaurant, I went for it. Who knows when I’ll have another chance?
El Borrego’s in City Heights, occupying a bright orange storefront near Fairmount Avenue. Though it serves chicken and cochinita pibil pork, the counter service restaurant prides itself on its namesake dish, wrapping a 24-hour marinated lamb in maguey cactus leaves and slow cooking it over steam for five to six hours.
Most days I’d want the resulting tender, shredded lamb meat stuffed inside tacos, or served on a plate with a stack of tortillas. And both options come recommended here. But the $9.25 burrito wraps the barbacoa up with rice and pinto beans, inside a grilled flour tortilla. For two bucks more I embraced an add-avocado option, and for a dollar more added sour cream.
I waited in the dining room a few minutes before the burrito arrived at my table. It’s not the fattest burrito I’ve eaten this week, but without doubt it filled me up. The lamb lacked any gamey pungency, and its simmering flavor was almost too delicate to overcome the rice, beans, and avocado. But once I added some of the tasty and hot house salsa, I hit the burrito zone with this thing, saving the chunkier bits of lamb that came my way, and washing it down with the tangy house agua de tamarindo.
A burrito’s probably the least of the lamb options on the menu, but I’m glad it was there to satisfy my curiosity. Next time I will spend my gluttony on a half pound of that moist, succulent lamb meat and a stack of corn tortillas, and savor every moment. But I’ll have to be lunch or an early dinner. El Borrego closes at 6pm.