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The Definitive Guide to All 15 Burrito Styles Available in the United States

Categories: Mexi Meals

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Photo by Professor Salt
Epic!
This past week, I hosted ESPN's burrito correspondent, Anna Maria Barry Jester of the company's FiveThirtyEight data-mining site. We ate at Athenian Burgers #3 in Buena Park, which is a competitor in FiveThirtyEight's epic Burrito Bracket competition that seeks to find the greatest burrito in America by facing off Yelp stats versus actual critics.

Anna Maria loved her Athenian Polish sausage breakfast burrito, although I worry about it advancing, given it's facing off against the legendary Manny's El Tepeyac AND Al and Bea's. She told me about her burrito adventures so far, from the Deep South to Santa Fe to Ventura and beyond. And as she recounted one cylindrical god (or imposter) after another, it got me thinking of all the different burrito styles in America. While you may think you know them all, you'd be surprised at the amount of burrito diversity in this country, from the Mexican hamburger of Denver to burritos in El Paso that function more as tacos, to the monstrosities of Taco Bell, austerity of a bean-and-cheese, and more. So, without further ado, in no particular order of deliciousness...

Bean-and-Cheese Burrito

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Photo by The Mexican
Del Taco's magnificent bean-and-cheese

The first burrito to spread across the United States, and still stocked by all the pioneer fast-food chains, from Taco Bell to Del Taco to TacoTime and more. Beans, cheese, and a light sauce--so deviously simple, and now usually found only at fast-food chains and the homes of Mexicans, because more popular nowadays are monstrosities.

Juarez Burrito

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Photo by The Mexican
El Paso burrito--notice how tiny it is, compartively speaking

The best name I could think of for the burritos of northwest Mexico and El Paso: small, simple things usually stuffed with a guisado (a stew) and nothing more--no guac, no cheese, no nada. Usually folded so that two flaps stick out of the side, as opposed to getting completely wrapped into a tight tube. Severely underrated.

Pocho Burrito

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Photo by Professor Salt
Burrito from El Toro Bravo

The best name I could think of for the burritos of a previous generation of Southern Californians: the ones in big tortillas with your choice of meat, rice, and beans. The burritos I grew up eating, the kind you'll get if you enter a taquería in Southern California. No sour cream, no veggies--just the meat, beans and rice. And, yes, insufferable hipsters: rice. The only people who think rice doesn't belong in a burrito are people who didn't grow up with burritos from birth.

Mission Burrito

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Photo by The Mexican
El Castillito in San Francisco: Home to my favorite burrito of all time

San Francisco's gift to the world, a gargantuan beast where most everything goes inside a massive flour tortilla, then the results get wrapped in foil. Key to the Mission style is the preparation: down the assembly line. Style copied wholesale by Chipotle, which most of the U.S. still doesn't know.

Carne Asada Burrito

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Carne asada burrito with a taquito in it--another San Diego creation

Somehow, San Diego has claimed what's really just a meat burrito with guacamole, salsa and cheese into their own creation, and unique. Um, okay...much better to claim is, of course...


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75 comments
Jim Morris
Jim Morris

your mom makes the best burritos..

Zamir Gymkata
Zamir Gymkata

New Mexicans have all grown up with Fried Burritos and they are not Just Chimichangas. Allsups burritos horrific and wonderful

Nash Alvarado
Nash Alvarado

If it has rice in it..........take it directly to the garbage and carry on. SAZ!

B Allen Thomas
B Allen Thomas

Doyer fans get the greasy mystery meat burritos..up here in Nor Cal, we head to the Mission.

Mark Provencio
Mark Provencio

The night's not over until you get that Del Taco Red Burrito at 3am.

Sylvía Ann
Sylvía Ann

Taquerias Jalisco are popular chain like Mexican restaurants in South TX...south of SA (San Antonio)

Rosa Melendez
Rosa Melendez

I will definitely go to Chubbie's while I'm here in Denver. Thanks!

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

GOLLLL BULGARIA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Max Wedge
Max Wedge

I don't think I've ever had a burrito ... There's always been plenty of tacos ..

Patrick Fontes
Patrick Fontes

@Christina Espinosa - "In every taqueria in Jalisco"? - you cant find burritos in GDL! Burritos are a northern Mexican food. Not a flour tortilla in site hhaa

David Tanaka
David Tanaka

I'm sorry but french fries and Asian food shouldn't be anywhere near a burrito

Christina Espinosa
Christina Espinosa

Wow..... I'm from tx and the first time I heard of rice in a burrito was when Taco Bell introduced theirs in the 90s. Also, the last burrito on your list was available in ever taqueria Jalisco or Guadalajara south of SA for decades before Taco Bell perverted it.... :) come to s. Tx!

Luis Estevez
Luis Estevez

Pepe's breakfast burritos are the best in the business!

Chris Chapple
Chris Chapple

So what does this story have to do with Orange County?

Xander Lombardo
Xander Lombardo

The best berritos come from SD sorry, OC berritos use a lot of LARD

Sergio Medina
Sergio Medina

Joseph Felix Anthony Cottgias Cesar Landa Tito Jose Segura Christian Espinoza

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allisonmsanchez
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mikelaw
mikelaw

I'm I little older than you Gustavo, but my Sonoran Nana never put rice in a burrito. In fact, it was only when I moved behind the Orange curtain that I had to start saying 'no arroz' when I ordered a burrito.

I enjoy your insights on the food of real Californians.

Donn Law
Donn Law

Mi Abuela always put papas in her Chorizo con Huevos and served with tortilla harina. If we had to rush off to school, it was wrapped in the tortilla along with some cheese and that was our Breakfast Burrito... con papas! Ans 50+ years down the road I still make 'em the same way!

April Manter
April Manter

First I'll try and then I worry about its classification :)

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

I can see rice in your burrito. I don't like rice, but I can see it. Potatoes? Nope, "por favor, sin papas".

RocketJ
RocketJ

Poverty/Leftover/Bachelor burrito; whatever you can find in the kitchen thrown into a tortilla. Hot sauce comes from a fast food packet liberated from between the seats of the car.

Jeff McCrea
Jeff McCrea

"Enchilada style?" Never heard that in all my years in NM or CO. Plus, NM breakfast burritos are small? You must never had been to Dos Hermanos.

Deborah Aune Bhorntus
Deborah Aune Bhorntus

I've been a fan of yours for years, Gustavo, but never more so than when you're talking about Mexican food. Now, can we talk about what comprises a good plate of chilaquiles?

TheRefriedMexican
TheRefriedMexican

Where's the best ever 2 ingredient burrito, the flour tortilla with melted mantequilla (butter)? I remember attending Richman Elementary in Fullerton and not being able to wait for the morning break so I could buy one for ¢.25. The good ol days.

Jesse T Alberson
Jesse T Alberson

Tucson claims ownership of the chimichanga, can you verify this?

Ali Chen
Ali Chen

Sagar Kansagra ESPN has a burrito correspondent?! Where do I sign up?!

Emily Coker
Emily Coker

Spanky-ilb Pymn you have much to learn

Vince Hernandez
Vince Hernandez

Damn! All this talk about burritos is making me hungry for a Special Quesadilla...with pastrami please!

Nati C. Poder
Nati C. Poder

Wait, how does San Diego have claim to the Carne Asada burrito? There's got to be a story behind that.

Gino R. Livoti
Gino R. Livoti

The Burrito Gourmet, nice ring to it!! Who is the Taco Gourmet??

PaulyWalnuts
PaulyWalnuts

Love burritos!!! Those all look killer!!!


Chris J Caroselli
Chris J Caroselli

They call it a wet burrito because the roach coach always gives you the trots.

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

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BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Heathan! Apostasy! All right-thinkers agree: "?Papas? !NO!"

dave998
dave998

Not to mention Blake's.  I don't think either of them put beans in their breakfast burritos.  Not the ones I order anyways.  Not to mention rice.  WTF?  I feel so sorry for people that don't live in New Mexico.  I ordered carne adovada once at an LA restaurant that my cousin raved about.  I thought I was going to puke.  Everyone I know has a horror story about the "great Mexican place" they were taken to when they were visiting friends or family out of state.

Burro
Burro

The famed Robertos / Albertos taco shops and all the myriad variations / family members' shops, I believe, were pioneers in this field. When I lived in North County we'd hit up the Solana Beach Roberto's late at night and man those Carne Asada burritos were just awesome !    Carne Asada, guac, onions....  mmmm-mmmm-mmm!

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