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Border Cafe, Burlington MA

I know most people in Boston abhor the Border Cafe, but it's one of my favorite restaurants. They're building another in Burlington, and it's gone up very quickly. Does anyone have any idea when it will open? I hate having to find parking in Harvard Square.

And what do you order? I usually stick to the quesadillas or the shrimp and crawfish caesar salad -- so tasty!

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  1. According to the wait staff in the Saugus restaurant, within a week. They've made a lot of progress on the facility in just the last 10 days. [EDIT: I just rode past it an hour ago and they look like they could open this weekend. No signs or dates though.]

    My favorite: Catfish New Orleans.

    1. I did not like the quesadilla's - they were incredibly greasy. However, I do like the drinks.

      1. i was there recently and had a great grilled chicken dish that had a very tasty green sauce.
        the chicken was juicy, nicely grilled and the green sauce, made up mainly of chopped fresh parsley was light and very tasty. i highly recommend it! served with the usual jose's rice and black beans. yum!

        1. In NJ they have a sister restaurant called Jose Tejas and I have never have a bad meal there. The two favorites I have are the cadillac fajitas and catfish tacos with jambalaya yummy.

          1. blackened catfish fajita .. after going to Border for years and trying many menu items, I ordered the Black Cat a few years ago and have never looked back

            1 Reply
            1. re: scarletts dad

              I tried that one after having a few disappointing attempts at their enchiladas. I would definitely get it again! The mango salsa was great.

            2. no, the best is the crawfish quesadilla,
              i have no qualms about saying I LOVE BORDER IN BOSTON its yummy.

              1. Well its open now, great place, I love their food. I've been searching high and low for their salsa recipe, there's something in there that is just so good. Jumbalaya is my favorite their.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sukairain

                  The Boston Herald used to have column called "Here's How," which featured recipes from area restaurants. Here's the one from the Border Cafe circa 1996 --

                  Q: Can you obtain the recipe for the best salsa I've ever had? It's from the Border Cafe. We would love to make it at home. - L.R., Haverhill

                  A: This recipe comes from the restaurant's executive chef, Chris Damian. It sounds perfect for the coming warm weather.

                  BORDER CAFE'S SALSA

                  3 c. canned, crushed tomatoes (restaurant uses Hunt's)

                  1 1-2 T. finely chopped fresh jalapenos

                  3-4 c. roasted anaheim peppers, cut into 1-4-inch dice, or 3-4 c. canned mild green chiles (restaurant uses La Preferida)

                  3-4 c. cold water

                  1 1-2 T. fresh minced garlic

                  1-2 t. salt

                  3-4 c. finely diced onion

                  1-2 c. finely chopped scallions

                  1 1-2 T. finely chopped cilantro leaves

                  Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Let sit for 1 hour before serving to let flavors blend. Makes about 5 1-2 cups.

                  Have you ever tasted a dish at a restaurant and wished you could re-create it at home? Drop us a note and we'll try to track down the recipe for you. Send recipe requests to "Here's How," Food Department, The Boston Herald, One Herald Square, P.O. Box 2096, Boston, MA 02106-2096.

                  LOAD-DATE: May 15, 1996

                2. Best thing on the menu are probably the fajitas. The shrimp and chicken combo is usually good and not greasy, and you can build your own meal, which saves it from being overloaded with cheese or other glop, if you have no stomach for that. Also, the tortilla chips for the table are usually hot from the frier.

                  Their bartending skills however, are sadly never beyond anything that involves cracking a beer or running the blender for pre-made margaritas, which are usually weak and overly sweet.

                  1. Great, now all I can think about is the Gulf Coast seafood enchiladas. Oh, well, off to Burlington ...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: North Ender

                      Went to the location in Burlington on the recommendation of the hotel shuttle driver. What a mistake. The salmon caesar salad was donwright awful. The dressing was pretty bad and of course there were a record number of croutons. Should have know better. Beware.

                    2. This is one of my OK food places for lunch. Nothing outstanding but they are very good at what they do. Advertised as Creole and Tex Mex cooking and they do a decent job of it. Chips and salsa is fresh and I like most of the dishes here. Not to impressed by the burger but that's about it. They will not cook a burger less than medium. I had the catfish New Orleans today, perfectly cooked fish, nice rice and really good beans. Only drawback here is that the place gets loud when busy, really loud. Overall I think it's good value for the money and the staff seems to really like to work here.


                      1. I was going to have the Caesar Salad with Shrimp and Crayfish but saw the Shrimp and Crayfish Quesadilla on the menu and opted for that instead. It was OK, plenty of Shrimp and Crayfish, might have been a bit overcooked since the cheese was a bit to well done. Regardless it was tasty and the salsa was nice and sharp.


                        1. Border Cafe is simple IMO. Many items are routine and simply fine. A few are outstanding. If you stick to the chips and salsa and things like the blackened chicken, the catfish bites (sucks they don't offer catfish fingers anymore) and chicken fajitas you will be pleased. Blackened catfish is good too. I'd suggest you avoid any shrimp dishes, and don't expect much from their enchiladas etc. Stick to my basic list and you will walk out happy.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: gfaulk

                            Agreed on the chips and salsa, as well as the blackened chicken app and I'll throw in quesadillas as a reilable item as well,...

                            but I think the entrees have gone way downhill from kind of unpredictable / sometimes not so good to pretty much inedible most of the time - particularly the chicken fajitas - they had about 10x the salt needed the last two times we ordered them - seriously. Also, the burger was consistently pretty good 8-10 years ago as well but is terrible and like shoe leather now. I think all of the faux creole items have been awful from the start.

                            It's definitely a volume operation - stick with the chips, apps, and maybe a neon margarita to avoid complete disappointment / anger and get in / get out fast (like they want you to).

                            1. re: rlh

                              Border Cafe is still with us ?

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                Judging by the lines out the door every time I go, they're still with us and going very strong.

                                Their quality definitely depends on time of day and who's in the kitchen. Last time I went, everything was pretty decent indeed. No complaints.

                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                  Ate at the Harvard Square outlet twice, once violently ill after, once moderately ill after. 2 strikes and you're out!

                                  1. re: kimfair1

                                    The last time I ate at the HS Border Café was during the Truman Administration.

                                    When you could smoke in restaurants!

                                2. re: C. Hamster

                                  The last time I went to the Harvard Square location, the margaritas were so comically weak we sent them back - I'm still convinced they were just sour mix and ice. The next round was about the same. I won't be back.