GREENPOINT – A new outpost of a popular Rockaways-based burrito-shack has come to North Brooklyn as Super Burrito takes up residence in the kitchen space of the Brooklyn Bazaar venue on Greenpoint Avenue. They’re serving up San Francisco’s famous Mission-style burritos here in Brooklyn and doing—in the parlance of NorCal—a hella good job.
The Brooklyn Bazaar is an eclectic place: a venue-slash-restaurant-slash-event space that hosts everything from hardcore shows to private karaoke sessions, beat-boxing tournaments to panel discussions for community groups. Previously, the kitchen housed Golden Brown’s chicken spot, but now the owners of Super Burrito have taken over the space. They’re hoping to build a following in Brooklyn, betting that Mexican-food lovers of all stripes will make the pilgrimage to 150 Greenpoint Avenue to commune with their Left Coast flavors.
San Francisco-born owners Sam Neely and Eugene Cleghorn originally met in high school, and we’re each others only friends when they first moved out to New York in 2007.The two had widely different experiences of New York, said Cleghorn, but they always talked about opening up a taqueria, missing the familiar flavors they grew up on in the Bay.
“It’s not a pretentious thing,” said Cleghorn. “Every time there was a new place with burritos, I’d go try it.” But nothing seemed quite right, and as the two worked seasonal jobs on Rockaway Beach, they finally decided to give their dream a shot: first with a pop-up for SF burritos at Ripper’s, where they worked, then finally with a spot at 97 Shore Parkway, on the Boardwalk. Launching in May 2017, they started to find success over the summer.
“It went swimmingly,” said Cleghorn, adding that locals quickly got on board with the California bros’ burritos. “Everyone really digs it in Rockaway.”
As a California transplant myself, who low-key misses the ubiquity of good burritos I knew in my youth, I considered Super Burrito a must-try when I heard they were opening a new shop. Enlisting a fellow California-expat, we set out to see what the boys at the Bazaar were cooking up. As it turns out? Really excellent food.
The menu board at Super Burrito is reassuringly basic, with categories of Burritos, Tacos, Nachos and Plates, but as they’re broken down by their key ingredients: chicken, pork, steak, poblano, and vegan, a bit of apprehension kicks in: “Is ‘pork’ carnitas or pastor? Is ‘steak’ cabeza, carne asada or barbacoa?” my dining companion wondered. After a brief conference at the counter with Sam, we learned that the pork was, in fact, carnitas, and proceeded from there.
We ordered up a raft of burritos and retreated to a leather banquette against a mirrored wall—part of the retro-kitsch decorations that are an integral element of the Brooklyn Bazaar vibe. It was a quiet Sunday evening, but a nearby crew was contentedly devouring their meals while enthralled by the NFC Championship game. Brooklyn Bazaar’s pool table and Game of Thrones pinball machine were still present, though the new tenants had hung a San Francisco city flag in the back, staking a claim of hometown pride. Before long, our massive, foil-wrapped burritos were delivered to the table and we dug in.
Super Burrito’s burritos are big, and definitely eclipse some of the other Mission-style offerings in Brooklyn—more than enough to leave your full. The carnitas were excellent: a slight crispness of the braised edges enveloped in the rich, tender slow-cooked pork. The rice was spot on, both in proportion and preparation—not too much, and not too dry. Mixed in were jack cheese, pico de gallo and salsa, though the latter could’ve done with a bit more kick. Luckily, bottles of El Yucateco were on hand for those who like things spicier. Of course, a key ingredient of the classic super burrito was included: avocado. Normally an added charge at chain burrito joints, it’s part of the package at Super Burito—though one always hopes for a slightly bigger serving.
As a vegetarian option, the poblano burrito was great. Super Burrito uses a generous portion of the roasted, mild pepper—popular in the dish chile relleno— which retains enough tooth to feel substantial and filling, overcoming a common obstacle for some vegetarian dishes.
While the menu includes tacos, nachos and something called the Mexican Hot Dog, we found ourselves more than satiated by the big burritos. A small gripe would be that chips and salsa are only offered as a $4 side, and not included with one’s dish. Even a perfunctory handful of chips and cup of salsa are de rigueur at just about any Mexican food stop, and it stands to reason Super Burrito could oblige as well. Burritos cost about $12, and while there’s a slight sting to a price past $10, it’s commensurate with other fast-casual offerings of Mission-style burritos.
The biggest key will be establishing the new, year-round restaurant as its own destination, said Cleghorn, and not just an add-on to the shows happening at the Bazaar. “We’re gonna make it happen—we’ve got ideas,” he said. It remains to be seen what those ideas are, but in the meantime, they’ve got something pretty good already: truly super burritos.
Super Burrito is located at the Brooklyn Bazaar (150 Greenpoint Ave and Manhattan Ave) just steps from the Greenpoint G stop. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday (Wed, Thu, Sun 5 – 11 pm, Fri & Sat 5 pm – 1 am).