Plant-based flavor town

El Borracho’s delicious meat-free experiments

Taylor VanLanduyt, Staff Writer

With a variety of creative tacos, including various vegan options, there is something for everyone at El Borracho. (Taylor VanLanduyt)

Some encounters at Mexican restaurants include grease dripping down hands and fingers, and some consist of a plentiful blend of cilantro and onion topped with Cholula. With this contrast of Americanized and authentic food experiences, it may become difficult to find a place that promotes green-eating upfront.

In hopes to adapt to a healthier diet, the past few weeks have centered around finding an environmentally friendly and “green” restaurant. A friend recommended El Borracho.

El Borracho’s menu includes the classic Mexican restaurant foods: chips and salsa, guacamole, loaded nachos, burritos, quesadillas and tacos. But there is one thing that makes their food different: El Borracho is 100 percent plant-based and vegan.

Some people may approach plant-based food with a skeptical perspective; they want to focus on all the food groups that plant-based eating would exclude from their diet. Some shy away from eating their greens because junk foods are cheaper or more convenient. However, El Borracho offers certain food combinations that will provide people with opportunities to eat meals that are both delicious and nutritious.

Protein options for the vegan restaurant include tofu, seitan steak (a vegan steak made from gluten flour), shrymp (made from tofu) and others.

Every food option is available to purchase as either a taco, burrito, or burrito bowl for $4.25, $12, or $13, respectively. Burrito bowls are an excellent choice and worthy of the price, as they come with a choice of refried or black beans, green rice, iceberg lettuce, cilantro slaw, pico de gallo and queso fresco. The fresh vegetables and textures in it are a genius combination.

The jackfruit cochinitas pibil burrito bowl is a great option for people wanting to try something new. With shredded orange, achiote jackfruit cooked in banana leaves and topped in pickled red onion, the combination is certainly one unique to El Borracho.

As someone who has never tried this mix of flavors—or even jackfruit—it was certainly intriguing. With its mix of vegetables, it was a guilt-free eating experience. The red onion was a delightful surprise and a bitter contrast to the savory jackfruit.

Furthermore, the generous portion size allows the opportunity to take home leftovers and experience the same flavors at a later mealtime.

Not only is El Borracho plant-based, but the restaurant is also environmentally conscious. Meals are served with compostable plates, bowls and silverware.

If the food does not immediately convince people to visit, El Borracho’s warm lighting and hanging chandeliers create an ambiance too perfect to pass up. Two mariachi-style skeletons hang above the fully-stocked bar. To round out the eccentric environment, “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads played overhead as the waitstaff took orders. The disparity of the music and the space itself should create a disorderly environment, but instead, they compliment each other in a unique way.

After first hearing about El Borracho, it seemed funny that a vegan Mexican restaurant was considered a great sports bar. But a large flat-screen television hangs above the bar, playing Olympic events. There is no pressure for frustrated fans to shout at the screen, begging their teams to perform better; rather, this set-up makes it an ideal place to dine out with friends and watch athletes compete at the same time.

El Borracho closes to minors after 4 p.m. During their happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m., they offer a dollar off every drink. They even offer “cheapo” margaritas. Guilt-free meals and cheap cocktails makes El Borracho worth a stop for college students ages 21 and older.

Being a student, it is hard to be motivated to eat healthy when junk food presents a cheaper option. El Borracho’s menu shows that sometimes eating healthy means experimenting with flavors. Do not be afraid to take risks in figuring out how to combine more nutritious foods and create something delectable.

Plant-based eating has come a long way, and El Borracho’s menu shows how vegan alternatives can be just as delicious; Marinated jackfruit in replace of pork is a substitute nobody saw coming! Eating green is adventurous and advantageous—give it a try.