The owner and crew behind the counter were admittedly nervous and visibly shaky while building my late morning burrito, which was probably the second or third burrito sale of El Diablo's April 9 opening day in Wilmington's Trolley Square Shopping Center, but the new, independently owned California-style burrito shop managed to wrap up a winner.
In place of what used to be a dry cleaners is now a cute and sleek little burrito shop with less than 20 seats and a small assembly line counter where you place your order for one of the five specialty burritos: grilled steak, grilled chicken, citrus braised pork, serrano braised pork ribs, or vegetarian. Three large salads are also available, and in the coming weeks El Diablo will introduce tacos and quesadillas to the permanent menu.Now, you either love big-ass rice and bean burritos or you don't. I happen to love them, but my major complaint at most places is lack of punch and zest with the flavors of the standard ingredients. I had no complaints at El Diablo! The toppings are fresh and tasty: hearty marinated mushrooms, tangy corn salsa, two kinds of pico (regular and hot), salsa verde, avocado poblano sauce, romesco sauce, three types of hot peppers, and pickled onion to name a few. It is your own fault if you walk away from El Diablo with a bland burrito. The vegetarian burrito comes with marinated mushrooms, cilantro-spiked rice, black beans, corn salsa, pickled peppers, pepper jack cheese, and pico de gallo. These ingredients are just suggestions, so feel free to eliminate some or add some of the other ingredients available. I decided to up my flavor quotient with the addition of pickled onions, cilantro, and avocado poblano sauce.
The citrus braised pork and serrano braised pork ribs offered at El Diablo are an upgrade from the usual meats at most burrito shops, but you'll pay $8.75 for these fancy meat burritos. On the lower end, the vegetarian burrito only comes in at $6.75.
I was going to knock El Diablo for not offering a non-bean vegetarian protein, but the marinated mushrooms had lots of flavor and was beyond generously portioned. Not sure if the generous portion of mushrooms was an opening day oversight, though.
El Diablo should do well in Trolley Square, where twenty and thirty-somethings gather to bar hop on the weekend. And during the week, the location is only a hop, skip and jump from the thousands of hungry downtown business workers. Because of licensing, El Diablo unfortunately can't stay open past midnight, but if the owner sets up a cart outside to cater to the after-hours bar crowd like I overheard him talking about, they should do very well.
Here's wishing you the best of luck, El Diablo. Hopefully your opening day jitters are a thing of the past, and you're rolling fat, foil-wrapped burritos like it ain't no thang.
Weird note: at one point, I was the lone female out of the twenty customers in El Diablo. Men must love burritos. Or Wilmington has a shortage of women.
13A Trolley Square, Wilmington, DE 19806