Gato’s mood, better than food

 

Nestled between Rasputin’s Bar and Lift Nightclub is a new Mexican restaurant that brings a lively vibe to lower Church Street.  

Jumping into Burlington’s existing Mexican scene, El Gato Cantina offers a large menu with reasonable prices for college students.

Owner Tree Bertram named the resturant because of UVM’s mascot, the Catamount, and his desire to make the restaurant a kind of watering hole for people to come drink, eat and enjoy themselves, according to the El Gato Cantina website.

This watering hole environment is apparent as soon as you walk through the front doors. 

The atmosphere begs for lively conversation and plates of food to be shared among friends.  

The sea-green walls and yellow ceilings are adorned with paintings and sculptures of El Gato’s namesake, the cat.

 The low lighting gives El Gato an intimate feel even though the floor is covered with high and low tables.  

One of El Gato’s major selling points is their tequila.

In addition to their bottled tequila, they make three homemade infusions: jalapeno, orange and a seasonal variety.  

Since I’ve never been one to say no to a margarita, I made this my starting point and ordered one standard house margarita and one El Gato margarita with triple sec, lime, simple syrup and the seasonal ginger-infused tequila.  

While both were good, the simple syrup made the El Gato margarita sweeter then a typical house margarita.  

If you’re put off by the flavor of traditional margaritas, opt for the sweeter El Gato margarita. 

However, if you like a slight sour taste, go for the cheaper house margarita.

Next up was an appetizer of guacamole.

 Like every other true Mexican food fan, guacamole is a must-have for me during the course of a meal.  

While deciding on what to get for the main course, El Gato provides a basket of chips and a bowl of pico de gallo salsa to munch on. 

Their speedy and attentive service leaves little to no time for the conversation to fizzle. 

Both the salsa and the guacamole were delicious. The guacamole had chunks of avocado and clippings of cilantro, showing that it was freshly made for our order.  

For dinner, I opted to try a combo plate of tacos and tamales.  I chose one taco de carne asada, an aguacate con queso taco and a pork tamale.

Even though the plate came heaping with food, it was all a little underwhelming.  

The pork in the carne asada taco had a nice spice but was too tough and the pork tamale was drier then it should be.     

The aguacate taco was an interesting take on a vegetarian taco. 

Made only with avocado, cheese, black beans and pico de gallo salsa, it was refreshing but unfortunately lacked any real flavor.

 Even though there was a lack of oomph in some of the food, the spirited environment still served up an entertaining evening with friends.  

The vibrant colors and fast-paced setting make El Gato Cantina a fun place to get together with friends over a few plates of chips and tacos without breaking the bank.