El Gato Cantina opened on Church Street last week. The prospect of correcting Burlington’s lack of a really good Mexican restaurant — Madera’s makes good food, but it’s not a good restaurant — kept me watching the signs in the front window. And I say that as someone who likes Mexican food, but doesn’t think of himself as an expert at all.
Last night we got our act together and descended upon the joint in a party of what turned out to be ten. Margaritas were consumed. The jalapeno-infused tequila was not hot, which I think disappointed our resident heat-hound. I dug the pineapple-infused El Gato margarita, though wish I discovered sooner there were cheaper house margaritas.
Deciphering the menu was a recurring point. Aside from drinks, there was flipping back and forth, discovering useful tidbits in different sections. There are combo platters, sure, but there’s a separate taco platter off in the taco section. I settled on that, getting two tacos de carnitas with guacamole, and rice and refried beans.
This is where my ability to communicate falls down. It was good. The food tasted good, I enjoyed the experience of eating it, it made me feel sated when I was done. I don’t have the right frame of reference to say whether the food was authentic or "right." The pork seemed like it was a little bit overdone and dry, but for all I know that’s how it’s meant to be.
Anyway, I enjoyed the experience. The prices are higher than a burrito joint, but less than the other Mexican restaurant in town, so that’s good. I look forward to going back to try some of the other dishes on the menu, especially the chile verde.