The 35 Best Burritos in America

There may be no food more perfect than a well-made burrito

Dos Toros
Dos Toros
A taste of the Bay Area in New York, Dos Toros Taqueria does its West Coast roots proud.

From a Portland, Ore. behemoth stuffed with a chile relleno and steak to a simple fried shrimp and fish burrito in Miami, from legendary San Francisco Mission District gems to examples from a little spot that folks in Sioux City, Iowa, would probably prefer to keep all to themselves, America is chock full of amazing burritos. We considered hundreds of them and are proud to announce our selection of the 35 best.

The 35 Best Burritos in America (Slideshow)

When you think about it, the burrito might be the world’s most perfect food. Seriously, what’s not to like? A hefty flour tortilla, steamed and pliable, filled with beans, cheese, meat, and vegetables, customizable to the extreme. Want guacamole and Mexican crema? Sure. Want grilled vegetables instead of meat? Sure, plenty of vegetarian options available. All the food groups are covered, and best of all, the burrito is handheld.

The answer might seem obvious, but before we can go any further, we need to ask ourselves what exactly a burrito is. It’s not just a hodgepodge of stuff wrapped up in a tortilla; that’s a wrap (especially if it’s cold and cut in half). And while there are plenty of fusion burritos out there, like the world-class ones served from Los Angeles’ Kogi Truck or the egg-filled breakfast burritos increasingly popular around the country, those are rankings for another day. For current purposes, we’re talking about, well, what you probably picture when you think of a burrito: a tidy cylinder of joy tightly wrapped up in aluminum foil, filled to nearly bursting with the afore-mentioned Tex-Mex favorites: your choice of rice, beans, cheese, meats like carnitas, barbacoa, and chicken mole, vegetables, guacamole, crema, and maybe some hot sauce, all the flavors co-mingling to create a flavor bomb that’s customized precisely to your liking. Did I mention that a burrito just might be the perfect food?

In order to compile our ranking, we looked at burritos from all across the country and applied several strict criteria: Are all the ingredients fresh? Is there a good selection of meats and add-ons? Can you customize your order, right down to the amount of crema squeezed on top? Is it renowned by critics and locals alike in its city? We’re not ranking places to buy a burrito; we’re ranking the burritos themselves, but we know that you don’t buy a burrito in a void. So when you drive by this place does your mouth immediately start to water, forcing you to impulsively pull over and, before you know it, you’re diving face-first into the burrito of your dreams? Yeah, those are the burritos we’re looking for. We compiled a list of more than 100 burritos from all across the country that meet those criteria, from Mountain View, Calif., to Morgantown, W. Va., and divided them into regions. We included favorites from last year’s ranking as well as burritos in existing best-of lists and burrito-ranking websites. We then sent the survey to journalists and food writers across the country, as well as renowned chefs that are a part of our Culinary Council. Chefs who participated in the survey and will allow their names to be used include Jonathan Waxman (a native Californian with extensive burrito experience) and Cesare Casella (who brings an Italian-rustic viewpoint to the subject) — while several other famous chefs declined to participate on the grounds that they don't eat burritos!

Are all the ingredients fresh? Is there a good selection of meats and add-ons? Can you customize your order, right down to the amount of crema squeezed on top? Is it renowned by critics and locals alike in its city?

(The writer and statistician Nate Silver's new website, fivethirtyeight.com, incidentally is about to offer its own “Burrito Bracket,” with results compiled in what seems to us a convoluted way: The initial list is derived from user reviews on Yelp.com. Next, a four-person "Burrito Selection Committee" from different parts of the country — one of whom, chef David Chang, recently told, er, fivethirtyeight.com that "Most of the Yelp reviews are wrong. They just are" — narrows down the selection to 64 choices. Finally, a single eater, writer Anna Maria Barry-Jester, is journeying around the country to sample burritos at all the nominated places. So, an individual critic's assessment based on crowd-sourced averages? Interesting. But we'll stick to our method.)

Obviously, the top end of our list is California-heavy. Before burritos found their way to the Mission District of San Francisco, they were little more than a flour tortilla rolled up around one or two ingredients, like beans or fish. But the burrito ballooned once it made its way to the states, growing to massive proportions in San Francisco in the early 1960s, giving rise to the burritos we most recognize today and therefore some of the most definitive, "perfect" examples. Other regional varieties include a more minimalist meat-cheese-salsa variety in San Diego and one with refried beans, stewed beef, and shredded cheddar in Los Angeles. Further afield, green chile has made its mark on the burrito in Santa Fe, and throughout the rest of the country the gospel has spread, resulting in unique and delicious burritos in just about every major city.

While there are infinite varieties of burritos around the country, at the end of the day we look for that same level of satisfaction that only a handheld combination of compatible flavors can provide. So without further ado, read on to learn about the top 35 burritos in America.  

35) Taco Surf Taco Shop, San Diego: Carne Asada

The smell will draw you off the beach and into this uniquely Southern California taqueria. Though there are more than 15 burrito filling options, opt for the carne asada. The top sirloin is cooked to order and never sits around, creating an extremely fresh burrito dripping with warm beef juices.

34) La Pasadita, Chicago: Super Lomo

A no-nonsense taqueria with a limited menu, La Pasadita makes its presence known with a screaming-yellow exterior. Meat options are plentiful, ranging from chicken to beef tongue, (vegetarians are sadly out of luck), but you’ll want to opt for the lomo, fresh rib-eye. The super burrito comes loaded with cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, onions, cilantro, and rice — it is a behemoth.

Click here for 33 more of the best burritos in America.

Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.


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23 Comments

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They missed El Tepeyac in Los Angeles. One of the best

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The fact that Illegal Pete's in Colorado is the ONLY Colorado restaurant on the list AND it's down at #13, while there are TWO places from Oregon, home of the blandest food in America, makes this ENTIRE list invalid & stupid!

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The place in Arlington, VA has been closed indefinitely by the health department last week. They have to apply for a new food license.

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for los angeles to have only one listing (albeit the #1) is ridiculous. I can think of 12 stellar burritos on the LA Country area at the top of my head.

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The place in Arlington, VA has been closed indefinitely by the health department last week. They have to apply for a new food license.

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How about the 5 layer buritto at Taco Bell ?

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La taqueria in sf has been the burrito I have chased for the past 15 years when I lived there. Nothing comes close.

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Leo's in Lawndale California makes the best wet burritos on the planet. I've eaten Mexican food from San Diego to Perry Ohio, and nothing is as delicious as Le's wet burrito's.

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Leo's in Lawndale California makes the best wet burritos on the planet. I've eaten Mexican food from San Diego to Perry Ohio, and nothing is as delicious as Le's wet burrito's.

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While it probably isn't the best, it's my favorite too.

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Titos Tacos in Culver City, Ca is the BEST ever. Been there since 1957.

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Tito's all meat burrito is the best anywhere! I've been eating there since 1972.

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They obviously only visited about 5 states. How can they even judge the "BEST" from that. I tend to take these with a grain of salt. There is an area in Southwest Detroit called Mexican Village and they have some pretty good Mexican food there. My husband always gets the burritos and LOVES them. I shop at the Mexican market there and make a pretty mean burrito myself!!!

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I agree. I was thinking the same thing. They obviously did not come to St. Louis, MO and try "Las Palmas". I noticed Mississippi wasn't on the list either. As far as the BEST. There is no BEST because everyone's taste is different. Some of those burrito's looked too dry for me. I don't like dry burrito's. I don't like them smothered in sauce either.

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I, for one, am tired of having Mexican/Southwestern food constantly advertised from most restaurants. Most menus have anywhere from one fourth to one half Mexican items. If I want Mexican food, I'll go to a Mexican restaurant. I have seen an ad from an Irish themed restaurant for tacos.

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Bahahahahahaha!!!

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That big Obama sign at La Pasadita would turn me away with an upset stomach. An appetite killer to say the least.

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I love you

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Sorry, but there should be with out a doubt... Fernando's Taco Inn added to this list (Top 5 it would be). I do not work there. They have a burrito called "The Carlos Burrito". DAH-LEEE-SHA'S!

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Have eaten at pedro and Vinny's and it is good. However the Corner Store in Harwhich Ma is better

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You should try the Taco House in Arnolds Park,IA.

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El Farolito doesn't have guacamole, they only have avocado.

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Oboma is a burrito

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