I have been putting off a trip to El Mirador for who knows why, so this week it came up as the place we would have our Thursday lunch. El Mirador is in the former Angela’s restaurant building on East Main in Burley, across from the new Maverik gas station.
I am always a little reserved to try out a new restaurant, especially if it is located where someone else before them struggled to find their identity as a restaurant. This location has been a Mexican restaurant, an Italian restaurant and now back to Mexican food. This isn’t to say that the current operators don’t have their act together – just that I don’t want to be a part of an experiment of someone figuring out how to run a restaurant.
Ambiance: El Mirador has the same look and feel that it has had for years. All that has changed is the sign out front. Everything is as it once was inside, so you’ll be right at home if this was one of your go to restaurants. The décor inside is your basic Mexican restaurant with tables and chairs throughout. The restaurant is laid out in three distinct seating zones and if your visit is like ours, you have the run of the place as you are encouraged to pick your own table. During our visit, we were the only two people in the restaurant right up to the point that we were leaving when a new group came in. There is always something eerie when you are the only people in a large restaurant. I was forced to ponder why it was that nobody else thought to eat here on this particular day. To be fair, our visit coincided with the Cassia County Fair just down the street, so much of their regular traffic could have been there.
Seating: As I mentioned, all the seating at El Mirador is individual tables and chairs. None of the windows are positioned where you could look out as you eat your meal. This makes the restaurant a little darker than you might find elsewhere.
Noise: With an empty restaurant we should have been able to hear crickets chirp, but this wouldn’t be the case. As with many of the restaurants in Mini-Cassia, El Mirador is run by a family. On our day our entertainment was a beautiful little 2-year-old who did her best to help run the place. The little bit of noise we had came as she expressed her personality with what looked to be her older siblings.
Bathrooms: Here I was disappointed. The restaurant is aging, and you would expect some of that wear to show up in the bathroom, but the men’s room needed a little more attention. Nothing major, just that some of the previous patrons must have missed the mark when they threw their paper towels away because they were all around the garbage can rather than in it. Judging by the condition of one of the long tables, there had been a large group in the restaurant before we arrived, and they alone could have caused the mess.
Service: Our server was on top of things before we ordered but then she sort of disappeared. The cook brought out our food and then we didn’t see anyone for the remainder of our meal. This isn’t the end of the world, but it lacked a measure of care we had hoped to experience as we ate our meal. Even when it came time to pay for our lunch it took us a couple of minutes to find someone to take our money.
Food: Finally, something to write home about at least for one of us. My wife ordered a taco and an enchilada with rice and beans, and she raved about it all through our lunch. The salsa was flavorful if not a little hot for my taste, but the cilantro was out of this world. I ordered a Burrito which came out wrapped in tinfoil. It looked more like a meal to go than an entrée, but it was packed with ingredients. I wasn’t crazy about the burrito, possibly because the meat came in chunks instead of finely ground like I was expecting. The taste was good, but the texture wasn’t.
The score for El Mirador was one excellent lunch and one so-so lunch. I will take some of the responsibility for my not enjoying my meal. I had expected something different than what I had ordered, and that’s not the restaurant’s fault, it’s mine.
El Mirador is located at 1198 East Main Street in Burley, across from the Maverick gas station. They could use some more customers to be sure, so put them on your list as someplace worth trying. I will do the same.