From a San Francisco legend to a Chicago hole in the wall, and from an under-the-radar New York behemoth to a simple bean-and-cheese masterpiece in Yuma, Ariz., there are some soul-satisfying burritos to be found all across our country. So loosen your belt, because we’re taking you on a journey through the country’s 20 best.
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. Just want veggies instead of meat? Sure, there are plenty of vegetarian options available. All the food groups are covered, and best of all, it’s 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. And while there are plenty of fusion burritos out there, like the world-class ones served from Los Angeles’ Kogi BBQ truck or egg-filled breakfast burritos, those are rankings for another day. For our 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 aforementioned Tex-Mex staples: your choice of rice, beans, cheese, meats like carnitas, barbacoa, and al pastor, vegetables, guacamole, crema, and maybe some hot sauce, all the flavors comingling to create a flavor bomb that’s customized precisely to your liking. Did we mention that a burrito just might be the perfect food? 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.
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 the restaurants, we’re ranking the burritos themselves, but the restaurant needs to have that allure: 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 find yourself diving face-first into the burrito of your dreams? Yeah, those are the burritos we’re looking for.
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, N.M., and throughout the rest of the country the gospel has spread, resulting in unique and delicious burritos in just about every major city. And we found 20 of the best.
So without further ado, click here to learn about the top 20 burritos in America.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers. Additional reporting by Tom Coughlan.