By any yardstick, Nic Haarhoff and his partners are building a tasty little F+B empire for themselves in South Africa, delivering a well-designed mix of Mexican concept eateries in equally charming settings.
The latest outpost of their El Burro brand is in leafy Newlands, one of Cape Town’s toniest suburbs on the western slopes of Table Mountain. The walls between two adjoining retail shops were knocked down and the entire length of shop front windows replaced by folding concertina windows. The result is an expansive dining room that is lined with recessed arches, and dressed and designed by Haahoff and his partners with light fixtures, horizontal timber slats, and customised furniture, and painted in sectional swatches of sunny yellow, pink and grey.
As with the El Burro Taqueria and the flagship El Burro Greenpoint, the menu here is resolutely Mexican. Executive chefs Reinette Botha and Mariaan Labuschagne send out classic crowd-pleasers like a cerviche of finely diced angel fish marinated with lime juice, coriander, and ginger. The moles are made with 70 per cent organic chocolate and served with a herbed green rice and refried beans, while the marquee attraction – an eight-hour braised mutton flavoured with star anise, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon – is piled into house-made corn tortillas with slaw, guacamole, pickled red onions, and roasted chilli.