When you think about it, the burrito might be the world’s most perfect food. All the food groups are covered with nearly endless combinations of ingredients, and best of all, the whole dish is handheld and doesn’t even require, well—a dish.
For our second-annual ranking of the best ones found in America, 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 didn’t set out to rank the places to buy a burrito; we ranked 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?
Those are the burritos we went looking for, and after compiling an extensive list, sent a 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). Although there could only be one winner, we found plenty of delectable specimens being made across America, including in San Diego.
La Perla Cocina Mexicana dubs itself a “burrito factory” and it doesn’t lie: it turns out delicious burritos with expert precision, and doesn’t disappoint. While you can opt for the King Kong, which stuffs both a chile relleno and an order of carne asada into a burrito, we suggest you leave the relleno out of this one and go right for the carne—thin strips of marinated and grilled tender steak. Make sure you opt for a dollop of fresh-made guacamole, too.
La Perla’s carne asada burrito snagged the #14 spot on our list, beating out their only local competitor also named on it, Taco Surf Taco Shop’s version of the same burrito (#35). That means, according to our panel of experts, that La Perla Cocina Mexicana is the proud home of the best burrito in San Diego.