Kendall Square

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Eat @ Kendall: Getting to know MexiCali Burrito Cabana

Friday, August 01, 2014

Eat @ Kendall: Getting to know MexiCali Burrito Cabana

 

Eric Quadrino and David Zimel opened the MexiCali Burrito Cabana in 2012, four years after launching a family owned ‘Mission District’-style taqueria at 500 Technology Square. From the start, the eatery focused on serving up zesty, flavorful and fresh Mexican food for on-the-go types at the epicenter of the Kendall Square urban live-work-play lifestyle. Over the years, the MexiCali crew has earned a reputation for health-conscious menu items, unique flavor profiles, East L.A.-influenced recipes and awes0me adventures like rolling 600 burritos for the MIT Hack-A-Thon. 

 (Image provided by MexiCali Cabana)

 

We recently asked Eric five ‘burning’ questions to learn about the burrito business, unique Mexican peppers and what he would serve to dinner guests like “the Rough Rider” and Bobby Zimmerman.

 What motivated you to enter the hospitality business?

 I left the financial services industry in New York in 2006 to follow my true passion of owning a restaurant.  I moved to Boston and learned the trade from my uncle and current business partner through an apprenticeship.  After 3 years of cooking, cleaning and managing, we opened MexiCali Burrito in 2008 and a few years later, MexiCali Burrito Cabana.

(Image provided by MexiCali Cabana)

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

 

The concept of “enlightened hospitality.” This is a belief in the importance of prioritizing. We want to always take care of our guests, our staff, our community, our suppliers and our investors. All of these groups make up our team. We need to support our team to reach our goals. 

What is your favorite menu ingredient and why?

The Guajillo chile. Many people have not heard of it. It is an amazing dark red pepper (commonly used in Mexico and known as the rattle chile, because it rattles when you shake it.) The Guajillo forms the base of many of our red sauces.  It has just the right amount of heat to balance dried raisin sweetness.

(Image provided by MexiCali Cabana)

 

What’s the one food or beverage you can’t live without?

 Guacamole!!! 

What about Kendall Square inspires your work?

I love working here because there is a true sense of community.  I know our customers well and they know our staff. Conversations go well beyond the weather. We get into family, food, science and music. We’re a real part of the community. A few years ago, some of our customers even snuck me onto some MIT intramural teams. I love being a part of what is happening in Kendall—even if I am only keeping the researchers and scientists full so they can keep making progress on their groundbreaking research. 

Bonus question: If you had the opportunity to invite four people (alive or deceased) to dinner, who would they be?

I’d invite any president on Mount Rushmore (Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt); Danny Meyers (famed NYC restaurateur), Bob Dylan and Martin Scorsese. I would serve a traditional, slow-cooked Oaxacan style mole with fried plantains.  There are a lot of ingredients in that dish so we’d plan on asking about any of their allergy restrictions ahead of time!

 

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