A forlorn storefront at the fringe of Douglas, Arizona, just a few miles from the Mexican border, El Burron is a locals’ favorite. The reason for its popularity is fundamental: well-made native food is served in large portions at low prices.
Actually, we were directed to El Burron by a tipster who said the dish to eat was a hamburger. I tried it (with cheese, please) and thought it was perfectly alright but nothing to write home about: a modest-size, cooked-through patty topped with bright orange cheese on a plain ol’ bun with standard-issue French fries. If burgers were all El Burron served, I would not put it on my list of notable Douglas eateries.
But burgers are just one part of a menu that includes first-rate tacos and quesadillas as well as burros sized from large to gigantic. In fact, the size scale is as follows: burro, big burro, burro macho, and burron. We saw the biggest of them come from the kitchen, and it looked like enough food to feed a family, so we went for the burro macho – a broad flour tortilla wrapped around what seemed to be a pound or more of carne asada, the grilled, shredded beef in which the concept of well-done is turned on its head to become glorious, juice-dripping succulence. Other available burro fillings are carne adobada (chile-marinated beef), chicken, and tripe, as well as strictly beans; and it is possible to add melted cheese to the interior. Ours came plain, and it would be dauntingly stark if all one did was eat it end to end. But once the tortilla wrap is torn and the burro opened, all that glistening meat calls out for condiments. And this is where El Burron soars.
Our man Francisco, behind the counter, spoke less English than we speak Spanish, and it was obvious we were newcomers, so he walked us to the salsa bar and gave us a guided tour of its splendors: several different salsas and sauces, pickled onions, peppers, and various vegetables. We brought an assorted plateful back to the table and adorned our burro bite by bite.