A new, underground burrito bar opened last week in the former “Cellar” space under Porch Fried Chicken (20 Fourth St. SE in Rochester). Chef Justin Schoville and Lindsay Zubay are testing out the concept with takeout and delivery options only.
Here are the answers to some pressing questions about Boxcar Hippie, courtesy of Schoville.
What’s an “East L.A.-style burrito?” Boxcar Hippie promises West Coast food-stand eats — according to Schoville, that means griddled burritos, first and foremost, plus a traditional spiced pinto bean. “We make the burritos — they’re big — we make all the stuff in-house. … We take a griddle we have seasoned with rice oil and we sear them, so they get a nice griddle mark on them.” It’s an easy way to avoid the soggy, wet-blanket tortilla you’ve experienced before, he said.
What’s the vibe? “Hip” is Schoville’s buzzword for the underground burrito bar — think local art murals, a groovy color scheme, and the odd “Cheech and Chong” reference, like the $4 “My Dog Ate My Stash, Man” mini bean and cheese burrito.
What should I order? The biggest seller on day one was the “killer” Asado Chuck Eye Steak, which is slow-cooked overnight, Schoville said. It’s actually a new twist on an old favorite. “We got really great reviews,” he said. “We knew we would, because we used that recipe back (with) Zzest Lunch Counter when we had prime rib for brunch.”
Check your bag carefully — just as Hot Chip orders include popcorn on the side and Porch adds honey butter biscuits to their to-go bags, Boxcar Hippie orders include an “authentic Mexican or Hispanic candy.” (It’s a cucumber and chili sucker right now.)
Why should I be excited about the vegan options? Vegetarians and vegans can choose between popcorn tofu (made in-house), charred onions and poblano peppers, and two “false meat” options — Barbacoa pulled oats, and also shredded, seasoned vegan “chicken” from a favorite — Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis. “We have their product at Hot Chip — we use their bacon, their Cuban pork, their cheese,” Schoville said. “Here, we use their Pepperjack cheese. ... They do a phenomenal job.”
Why no dine-in option? “Downtown is a war zone,” Schoville said. That’s why Boxcar Hippie is doing a test run for the next two months, to see if they sell enough burritos to keep the kitchen open. With only 40 seats downstairs, the eatery could only fit 20 diners at a time anyway, working at 50% capacity. “We like the concept, we like the feel of the space,” Schoville said. “It turned out to be a really good idea that we can run it out of there without customers in the space.”
Extra credit: When did Porch’s name change? And what happened to Hot Chip Vegan? Back in 2020, Schoville and Zubay rebranded Porch Fried Chicken to focus more on its eponymous crispy meats, and less on the grandparent-friendly, sit-down vibes Schoville said the restaurant had come to exude. The veggie-friendly version of Schoville and Zubay’s burger joint used to occupy the space under Porch. Nowadays, it’s housed in the same building as the original Hot Chip (1190 16th St. SW) — just ask for the vegan menu when you arrive!
If you go
What: Boxcar Hippie
Where: 20 4th St. SE, Rochester
Hours: 12 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
More information: www.boxcarhippie.com, 507-322-6552