Something completely different

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Joe Bockerstette wraps the fillings of one of Burritovilles over-sized burritos in a tortilla.

Driving down Broadway near downtown, it's hard not to notice a little place called Burritoville.

Not because there's anything special about the building: It's a rather nondescript, brick fast-food restaurant style place that once housed a Dairy Queen.

The Burritoville sign is what stands out. The messages are quirky, funny, sometimes cryptic, but always able to spark curiosity. Take one of the latest Burritoville signs, meant to mark the start of college classes. It lists Burritoville's own versions of college classes on a mock student schedule -- "Burritology" and "Mythic Dimensions in Tacotry."

"It's largely me, but we're totally open to suggestions," general manager Kris Baronovic says of ideas for Burritoville's famous sign messages.

Different people have famously contributed to the sign over Burritoville's seven years in Cape Girardeau, like Ron Ruppel, known for his Burritoville haikus.

Joe Bockerstette delivers a burrito to the front counter through a window to the kitchen. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

But Burritoville is much more than just quirky messages on a marquee. It's also a restaurant with a devoted crowd that serves gigantic portions of just about anything you want stuffed into a tortilla.

The restaurant's menu is largely limited to variations on a few familiar items -- burritos, giant quesadillas, tacos, nachos. But Burritoville also serves burgers, funnel cakes and chicken strips, along with some odd specialty burritos: a BLT burrito, the popular cheeseburger burrito, a chicken Caesar burrito, a chicken club burrito, a Buffalo chicken burrito and an BBQ chicken burrito. The dishes are made with fresh ingredients when possible, with a philosophy of keeping things simple, said Baronovic.

"The portions are eyeballed, we have no script, and we use as little prepackaged ingredients as possible," Baronovic said.

Then there's the vaunted "secret menu" stored in Baronovic's brain and accessible only by regulars or others in the know.

"We've got an entire menu that's not even on the board," Baronovic said. "I'll sell whatever somebody wants to buy in a tortilla."

Burritoville staff work quickly to fill orders as more come in. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Some of the "secret menu" items end up on the regular menu, which is how the cheeseburger burrito got its start. Since putting the burrito on the menu, it's been popular.

"It's a cheeseburger in a burrito, man," Baronovic said. "What's not to like?"

A common misconception people have about Burritoville is that the clientele is primarily college students. Not the case, said Baronovic -- the restaurant gets business from college to elderly, blue collar to white. Many of them are regulars, whom Baronovic's "secret menu" concoctions are tried on first before they make the menu.

The food and the clever messages on the Burritoville sign are not the only thing that makes the place unique. Burritoville is also the only restaurant in Cape Girardeau to offer bicycle food delivery with a team of three riders, Baronovic being one of them. The bikers will deliver anywhere within Cape Girardeau's city limits, and Baronovic says they're as fast as a car.

For more information on Burritoville, call 334-3068.

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