El Patio's New Digs

the burrito hot spot is ready to open new location with salsa dancing, tequila flights

Katy Macek, photos by Andrea Paulseth

BURRITO BAR. The new El Patio will have a full tequila bar, and three draft beers from Mexico, while keeping the food locals love, including its popular Burrito Express menu.
BURRITO BAR. The new El Patio will have a full tequila bar, and three draft beers from Mexico, while keeping the food locals love, including its popular Burrito Express menu.

The wait is almost over for fans of El Patio, their famous burritos and, of course, the salsa dancing.

Alejandro Castro, who owns the restaurant with his wife, said they plan to open at their new location, 408 Water St., within the next week. The only thing stopping them from setting an exact date is putting finishing touches on small things.

Students like UW-Eau Claire senior Tyler Richardson, who said he went to El Patio for their burritos as well as salsa dancing, won’t have to wait much longer.

“I have been craving an El Patio burrito like no other,” Richardson said. “An unhealthy craving that has opened a sun-sized hole inside my stomach, or at least it feels like that.”

Castro said the same Burrito Express menu will still be offered. Now, however, it will have its own separate kitchen and area to order, instead of being right at the bar.

Castro said he realized the Burrito Express was one of the biggest reasons his customers come back, and he plans to keep it that way.

“If you’re going to go out to drink, eat,” he said. “If you’re going to eat, eat a Burrito Express.”

While the Burrito Express will remain the same, Castro said there are several other things that will be changing, mainly the beverage menu.

In addition to having a full tequila bar, they will also be introducing four draft beers, three of which will be imported from Mexico. They will also be offering four domestic beers and four local beers, including Leinenkugel’s and Point.

As for the tequila, Castro said he has selected only tequila that he has tried and approved because he wants to make sure his customers only have the best.

“This is tequila that I know, personally know,” he said. “I’m giving my customers good tequila, not promotional tequila.”

They are also tequila flights, which allows customers to try a one-third shot of three different kinds of tequila.

“This is really unique,” he said. “Most tequila bars when you go in other places don’t really have those tequila flights. Even in Mexico, this is something new.”

His reasoning behind this is simple. Realizing that most of his customers are college-age, he wants them to be experienced in the tequila they are drinking.

While he said tequila shots in big cities like the Twin Cities can range somewhere around $15, he keeps his shots reasonably priced (most are around $4-$5) because he thinks it’s important for customers to have a chance to try different kinds of tequila and know which ones they like.

With the tequila, they also plan on making a variety of special margaritas, especially for the weekends, made with fresh fruit.

And to the fans who have been worried about salsa dancing, Castro only had one thing to say.

“Thursdays are for salsa,” he said. “Thursday nights.”

Jorge Martinez, an exchange student from Mexico City, studied at UW-Eau Claire in the fall of 2012 and said one of his favorite places to be was El Patio on Thursday nights.

“I’ve had the chance to dance salsa in many different countries from Mexico to China,” he said. “But none of them compare to the delight and fun of dancing in El Patio in Eau Claire.”

While the new set-up isn’t as open as the previous one, Castro said all it really takes is a bit of rearranging. The tables and chairs at the front of the restaurant will be pushed to the back, and the bar stools will be removed as well, whether or not there are people sitting in them.

“Maybe some people are going to stay at the bar,” he said. “That’s a good thing though, they can stand up, push them to dance too. I want everyone dancing, that’s the main idea, everyone dances.”

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