We snuck in through the back entrance of The Painted Burro, since the front of the restaurant was under construction due to the impending expansion of the bar into the former Spike’s space. There, chef Danny Bua was eager to greet us and welcome us to into his kitchen. Chef Bua talks quickly and passionately, excited about his ingredients and the food he prepares, he can’t wait to share with us the secret behind his ever popular Yucatan Meatloaf.
Originally from East Boston and born into an Italian family, chef Bua worked at the famed Mistral for years before settling in as executive chef at one of Somerville’s hottest restaurants. The kitchen is glistening and Bua’s sous chefs work diligently on their prep list for the day. The three of us are tucked away at the far end of the kitchen, stock simmering and the smell of onions and garlic work their magic on the neighboring burners. Chef Bua explains the ingredients and process behind the meatloaf, with more than a few aces up his sleeve that you’d never expect but we promised not to share. He buzzes around the kitchen, balancing a lively conversation with us as he whips together the mise en place with ease, describing some of the choices he made with the meatloaf and the process behind all things chipotle in adobo, chorizo and pickled jalapenos. We go on to discuss the differences between authentic Mexican food and just plain-old good food, and while Chef Bua would never make the claim of serving up legit authentic Mexican, he is proud of the great food he is putting out at The Painted Burro, as he should be. Just as our conversation starts to wrap up, Chef Bua presents us with the Yucatan Meatloaf. Tall in stature and resting atop a thick slab of Texas Toast and a brick-red pool of house made mole, the whole dish is topped off by two fried eggs and a delicate strand of cilantro. Spicy, beefy and downright satisfying, we can see why this is a popular item on the menu.
We stopped at The Painted Burro on one of our food crawls not long ago, and we instantly fell in love with the fun vibe, decor and food while snacking away on a few bites from the bar. If you haven’t been here yet be sure to do so for either some killer cocktails and bites from the bar or more of a substantial meal in the dining room.