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November 10, 2011

The Fate of Sadie Katz: Tacos, Farmhouse-Style

Picture 4Burlingtonians wondering about the fate of the shuttered Sadie Katz Delicatessen space might find some comfort in what's coming on its heels — that is, if they can switch their allegiance from latkes to tacos. 

El Cortijo Taquería y Cantina will open in the same space sometime this winter — bar, take-out window, NECI-trained chef and all.

Translate "El Cortijo," into English, and you get "the farmhouse" — a clue as to what kind of tacos these will be. The new owners are the crew from Farmhouse Tap & Grill, who bought the historic diner and will transform it into a lunch, dinner and late-night spot serving farm-fresh tacos alongside local and Mexican beers, tequilas, margaritas and a "killer house-made sangria," according to Farmhouse owner Jed Davis, who envisions a "fantastic" late-night scene.

Farmhouse chef Phillip Clayton, who nurtured a love of tacos during his North Carolina upbringing, will oversee the menu. Though it's still early, that menu will likely include "traditional standbys" such as tacos al pastor, tacos de pescado and tacos de lengua, as well as some creative apps, according to Davis. "[Mexican food] is a natural vehicle for local food," he adds, and the success of Taco Tuesdays at the Farmhouse was a definite encouragement.

Since the dining car is on the National Register of Historic Places, renovations won't be dramatic, but the partners are striving for a "gypsy-ish" interior — replacing the diner counter with a wooden bar top, laying new tile work, and hanging lights from Conant Metal & Light. They'll also open a taco take-out window facing Bank Street. "We're definitely embracing the history of the building but giving it some interesting tweaks," says Davis.

Great. Another hipster joint with overpriced,locally sourced food. Tacos+Farmhouse=...(Wait for it) Expensive Tacos!! YAY. (Save all the "snarky" comments. I know I'm being "snarky")

@Josh - Not snarky, it's precisely what a leech like you would say; can't blame you for being one, it's in your nature as evidenced by your pre-judgemental comment.

So what if it's expensive? These guys are not likely running a charity, and no one is twisting your arm to buy their product.

But if the food, and service, are great, there will be some who won't mind the price they set. And why shouldn't they be free to set the price? They're taking the risk of opening a new restaurant where the odds are against long-term success.

Here's an idea, why don't you open a restaurant, but change the equation to Tacos+Farmhouse=...(Wait for it) Cheap!! YAY. And let's see how long your business lasts. Maybe your food will be good, maybe you'll be successful, maybe you'll track me down after 10 years and make me eat my words AND one of your tacos.

If that turned out to be the case, I'd be fine with that because I would have been the one who turned you from the path of a leech - one who can only complain, and expects others to operate in service of you - and sent you down the path of being a productive, and contributive, member of society.

Just sayin'...

I am not going to get into the whole "snarky" debate. Let me just say this: I miss Sadie's; I miss its pastrami, its pickles, its soups and its soup/half-sandwich special. When my parents were alive, a good pastrami sandwich was almost a family rite. After I left home, whenever I came back for a visit I was greeted with hugs, kisses and a hot pastrami sandwich -- even, as once happened, when I arrived at 2:00 a.m.

For years, I lamented the absence of a proper deli up here. Vermont-made pastrami just doesn't measure up to the real McCoy. Then, Sadie's arrived and I felt right at home. (Sorry, Price Chopper/South Burlington, your pastrami is close but no cigar.)

So, bienvenidos, El Cortijo Taquería y Cantina. Maybe I will give you a try, but for me, Sadie's is a void you will never be able to fill. And, for Sadie's, Mazel Tov!!

I hope they have something vegetarian/vegan.

I hope Phillip Clayton makes tacos naked!

I'm psyched.

I too miss Sadie Katz and the Oaisis too for that matter, but I like this new concept.

I don't know how all these partnerships shake out, but it looks like the same people will be involved in Flatbread, Farmhouse, The planned steakhouse where Ground Round was and this Taco joint. I wish them all the best, I just hope they don't over extend themselves. As someone who appreciates a $40 meal at Farmhouse as well as a $12 meal at Chilis, I think we may quickly reach a saturation point for these great but pricy restaurants.

still waiting for tacos that'll remind me of those from texas ;-)

be waiting to check it out!

Please make some of them spicy! So tired of bland tacos.

@Bruce Post the Pastrami & Corned Beef at Ben and Bills (in Price Chopper) is the exact same brand as what was served at Sadie Katz. That being said I too will greatly miss Sadie Katz. Ben and Bills may serve the same meat but somehow the sandwiches at Sadie Katz were just better.

I'd just like to point out the that word "gypsy" is highly offensive and is seen as derogatory by the Romani people... Perhaps a better choice of words could have been used...

Thomas H Taber is correct.

what if they make a pastrami taco?

In response to Josh's initial comment: supporting the local economy (in this instance by frequenting a restaurant that supports local farmers) is not always the least expensive option. If you don't care whether or not your neighbors can support themselves and practice sustainable agriculture while providing us with amazing food, there are dozens of restaurants - including but not limited to McDonald's - offering substandard food at more affordable prices. Those of us who love restaurants like The Farmhouse are not all made of money, but we are willing to make sacrifices for good, local food.

PS I am not a hipster. I am simply a life-long Vermonter and a foodie.

We don't have a place for Jewish deli. I don't count Price Chopper. We have a million places for tacos. The food at Sadie Katz was delicious. The ambience, the waitstaff perfect. Making a chrome diner into a Mexican take-out joint is a travesty.

What Diane said. Sadie Katz was my favorite place to have breakfast or lunch in Burlington, and they had the best waitstaff in the city. The Farmhouse is highly overrated, and I don't trust them to do the Oasis building OR Mexican food any justice.

Loved Sadie Katz and so sad to see it go. The pickles! I'm a lover of Mexican food too, but am always disappointed by Burlington area Mexican restaurants: too much melted cheese, not spicy enough, stale tortillas, and cutting corners on the authentic, fresh ingredients. I hope this one keeps it simple and sticks to the good stuff--for a price that most people can afford. Yes to local ingredients at a slightly higher price, but no to $18 cheeseburgers (which is what I naively paid at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill!)

Saying someone nurtured a love of tacos during his North Carolina upbringing is like saying he nurtured a love of baked beans during his Florida upbringing: a remote connection at best.

I believe it is a real mistake to change the diner look. That is a classic. People will come just to see it. You should not try to make it look like anywhere usa.
This is the real diner that was on railroads. It still is on its tracks underneath the diner.

Please leave it as it is.

Or you will not see me.
I have been going to the Oasis since 1971. Never went to Sadie Katz. I want an early day breakfast place. We do NOT need more bars and late night places. And tacos.


Well, the Oasis never road the rails. It was built in New Jersey by Mountain View Diners and trucked up to Burlington in the early 1950s. However, losing it would be a real loss for a town like Burlington. I would plead with the owners not to change what's left. There are too few of these structures still in existence. If you don't want a diner, please don't buy one.

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