Burrito Union's Thanksgiving Burrito is exactly the kind of ingenuity one would expect from young people with access to leftover turkey and a heckload of tortilla shells.
The shop's most popular pick - they sell about one every 4.5 minutes when it's available, according to a longtime employee - combines traditional T-day savory foods in burrito form.
And instead of a side of salsa: gravy, of course.
According to the lore, a dozen B.U. employees gathered for Thanksgiving dinner about a decade ago at a big, old house in Duluth's Central Hillside. The next day, they were back on the clock. Someone brought leftovers to the restaurant, and as fate would have it, wrapped a meal's worth in a tortilla.
"I can't remember who gets credit for it," said Spencer Trost, a longtime employee at the neighborhood restaurant-bar with a menu that leans toward Mexican food.
The impromptu meal captured the attention of other customers who were dining nearby and the imagination of the employees. Since then, it has become a seasonal special.
"It has a cult following," Trost said. "Now we have to do it for the whole month, or there would be riots."
ONE HOT BURRITO
This year, Burrito Union sold 631 Thanksgiving Burritos in the first five days it was available, according to Trost, who said the staff was keeping track. When a News Tribune photographer asked if he could go into the kitchen to watch the process, he waited less than 3 minutes on a slow Monday afternoon for another to be ordered.
The tortilla is stuffed thick with warm, mushy comfort. The cranberry salsa, seemingly spread as its first layer, has a jalapeno nip. The shredded turkey is juicy, the mashed potatoes (you can substitute yams) and the dressing are complementary consistencies. There are kernels of corn, and the gravy comes as a side for dipping. Definitely dip it.
And because you have to lean into such things, Burrito Union has a cranberry-based beer pairing. The Gale Force Cranberry Ale is light, tart and the right cranberry color for a Thanksgiving spread.
AND OTHER FOOD TRICKS
Marcy Wojick takes her Thanksgiving Burrito in a bowl, which is also an option. In that case, it's served over tortilla chips.
Burrito Union's director of operations said she recently saw an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," and the show's host faced waffles made from Thanksgiving leftovers, burgers and more.
"But no burritos," she said, and added. "We've gotta call Guy Fieri."
The restaurant is serving Thanksgiving Burritos through the end of November, and they've sold almost 1,000 more already this year compared to last year. There is a plan to bring them back for a special at the midpoint of the year.
Burrito Union has experimented with other burritos using tater-tot hotdish and pumpkin pie.
"Literally, you can put anything in a burrito," Wojick said.