Burrito Shop Opens This Weekend in Growing Franklin Ave. Mexican Food Scene

By Rachel Holliday Smith on June 6, 2014 7:03am 

 El Barrio Burritos will open Saturday on Franklin Avenue with a menu full of Mexicali burritos, tacos and sides. The restaurant will also serve smoothies and a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, its owners said.
El Barrio Burritos will open Saturday on Franklin Avenue with a menu full of Mexicali burritos, tacos and sides. The restaurant will also serve smoothies and a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, its owners said.
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Cilan Toturkul

CROWN HEIGHTS — Look out, Chavela’s — the south-of-the-border food scene is about to get more crowded, with two new Mexican restaurants in the works for Franklin Avenue.

A new burrito and tacos shop, El Barrio Burritos, will open this weekend at 796A Franklin Ave. between Lincoln Place and Eastern Parkway. Their menu will include Mexicali food, with a focus on “traditional San Jose" tacos — which have soft shells and fresh toppings — plus oversized “Bay Area” burritos, said co-owner Steven Cappiello, 43.

“I’m really, really happy about the menu,” said Cappiello, a vegetarian who made sure there are lots of veggie and vegan options on the menu. Steak, chicken and shrimp are on the menu, too. Prices for tacos range from $5 to $9 depending on fillings. Most burritos will set you back $6 or $8.

The chef at El Barrio is Cappiello’s business partner, Cilan Toturkul, 41, who grew up in a family of diner managers in New Jersey and managed cafés and food trucks in Manhattan. He got into the burrito trade in the early '90s, when he lived in San Jose, “slinging burritos and stirring up guacamole,” he said.

“Before that, all I knew was trucker food, like American diner food,” he said with a laugh. Now, he’s excited to bring what he knows to the new spot on Franklin Avenue, where he lived for many years.

“On the first day that store was for rent, I noticed it right away because I’ve had burrito shops in the past,” he said. “I kind of have an eye for a good location.”

He’s not the only one. Ahmed Karim, who owns the Franklin Avenue Indian restaurant Bombay Masala said he plans to open a Mexican eatery next door called Vicente’s Bar, 676 Franklin Ave. between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place.

The Department of Buildings signed off on plans in late May for renovations that would turn the building’s interior into a “bar establishment,” according to records. And a sign that read “Coming Soon Vicente’s Bar, Authentic Mexican Food and Hookah,” was posted on the building earlier this spring, locals noticed and posted to the neighborhood message board Brooklynian.

Karim couldn’t say when the new restaurant would open. It's his second attempt to open a bar in that, after the first attempt was foiled by a permitting snafu.

The area's Mexican restaurants include Chavela’s (Franklin Avenue at Sterling Place), Gueros (Prospect Place at Franklin Avenue), Taqueria de Los Muertos (Washington Avenue at St. Marks Avenue) and the newly opened L.A. Burrito (Underhill Avenue at Dean Street).

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