Burritos, tequila and salsa dancing, oh my!

Local restaurant featuring Mexican cuisine relocates, set to open soon


Photo by Katy Macek

El Patio is set to open in a few weeks at its new location on Water Street. The old location, pictured here, holds memories for many UW-Eau Claire students.

Story by Katy Macek, Currents Editor

After 15 years in its home across from the Human Sciences and Services building on the UW-Eau Claire campus, El Patio will be packing up its famous Burrito Express and moving… down the street.

Lizzie Castro, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, said they had been looking for a new location for quite some time because the current building is outdated.

Their new location, 408 Water St., provides a new experience and allows for a more unique feel, she said.

“What we wanted to do with this is give people a different look at Mexican restaurants,” Castro said. “With this new place, we’re going to give it an updated look … It’ll be something different than what you’d get at another burrito place.”

Instead of ordering burritos right at the bar, Castro said the new restaurant will feature an open kitchen with a separate space for the burritos to be made. In addition, they will be boasting a full bar with several tap beers and more options for alcohol.

That’s right, there will be more tequila. Castro said there will be a wider variety, and more margarita options as well.

As for Thursday night salsa dancing, Castro said while the space is definitely smaller, they are still planning on trying it. They are able to remove the tables and some booths to make room for dancers.

“You might bump into a few more people, but it’s still possible,” she said.

Jorge Martinez, an exchange student from Mexico City, studied at Eau Claire in the fall of 2012 and said one of his favorite places to be was El Patio on Thursday nights.

“I’ve had the chance to dance salsa in many different countries from Mexico to China, but none of them compares to the delight and fun of dancing in El Patio in Eau Claire,” he said.

While he returned to his hometown after the semester ended, Martinez said he still tries to visit Eau Claire every now and then, and returned in September to say goodbye to El Patio at its current location.

Even though it’s just moving down the street, he said there are memories that can’t be replaced with the new restaurant and he worries the location won’t be big enough to accompany all of the dancers.

“It seems like it’s going to be a smaller place for dancing,” he said. “Nothing is going to compare to the charm of the original location of El Patio.”

Martinez is not the only student who is concerned about how the new location will affect salsa dancing.

Elise Randall, junior social work major, said she participated in salsa dancing at least every other Thursday and was upset to hear about the move because she enjoyed the convenient location so close to campus.

“The fact that it is further down Water Street surrounded by more of the bars could make students more hesitant to walk later at night,” Randall said. “On the other hand, it may spark curiosity in others to check the new place out for themselves.”

Tyler Richardson, senior Spanish business and linguistics double major, said while it has been rough living without El Patio’s burritos and salsa dancing, he is excited to see the new location and still plans on dancing.

“As long as El Patio remains in Eau Claire and salsa dancing is every Thursday, I am satisfied,” he said.

While Castro said they can’t set a confirmed date, she plans to have the restaurant open in the next couple of weeks, meaning students like Richardson won’t have to wait too much longer for those burritos.