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Monday, March 14, 2011

Stumbling ― Literally Stumbling ― On Benu's Burrito Cart

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM

click to enlarge Benu cooks Luis and Julio set up a burrito cart late Saturdays, featuring leftover meats from the high-end kitchen. - CARINA OST
  • Carina Ost
  • Benu cooks Luis and Julio set up a burrito cart late Saturdays, featuring leftover meats from the high-end kitchen.

Imagine this scenario: getting drunk at Drink on Saturday night, going to the Huntington Hotel for an additional cocktail and a piano-bar mashup of Wizard of Oz songs, then jumping in a town car after failing to find a taxi. SFoodie told the driver to head toward our favorite high-end restaurant, Benu, but when the driver had no idea where the hell it was, we mentioned another landmark, Benu neighbor the Gold Club ― you know, the strip club on Howard. Our driver knew the way like a munchkin knows the yellow brick road. We arrived like money and as disoriented as Dorothy in the Emerald City.

The Benu short-rib burrito, $8. - CARINA OST
  • Carina Ost
  • The Benu short-rib burrito, $8.

It was past midnight; we'd heard rumors about a very special burrito cart that only comes out late on Saturday nights. Amid the throngs of Howard Street club-goers were two Benu employees rarely seen outside the glass confines of Corey Lee's kitchen. Luis and Julio ― Benu's butcher and commis ― set up a burrito cart Saturdays, featuring meats leftover from the Benu kitchen. Since the restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays, it's a way for these two innovative kitchen staffers to use up trimmings that would otherwise be wasted. We grabbed the short rib burrito ($8) in seconds flat, feeling cooler than a teenager drinking a 40 outside a liquor store.

After a night of drinking, the massive cylinder wrapped in foil and jammed into a brown paper bag was worth its weight in gold. The meat was melt-in-our-mouth tender, with a soy-based seasoning that made us think of galbi. All the usual suspects were present: beans, rice, pico de gallo, and crema, oh my! Granted, we were drunk for the first few bites, but even heated up for breakfast the next day, this burrito stood up, and out. It was unusually good, and for the cost of a cab ride, we got to taste a piece of what the Benu crew can do.

If it's not raining, Luis and Julio sell their burritos on Howard Street between Hawthorne and Third Street, keeping the party going until the wee hours of Sunday.

Read more from Carina Ost at CarinaOst.com. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Carina Ost

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