Nowadays the breakfast burrito can be found on the menus of fast food behemoths like McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. However, its creation is attributed to a Santa Fe café, and chile smothered breakfast burritos remain a popular and portable New Mexican breakfast choice.
Tia Sophia’s Restaurant
210 W. San Francisco Street
Tia Sophia’s, an inconspicuous restaurant a block from the Plaza, is allegedly the birthplace of the breakfast burrito. Inside, Zozobra posters and Mexican dresses dangle above battered wooden booths. Tia Sophia’s burritos are oven-fired, which results in a sturdy tortilla that is more likely to retain its structural integrity. Crispy hash browns form the basis of the filling and customers are then able to add meat and (for a buck more) an egg. Melted cheddar clings to the outside of the burrito, which is drenched in chile sauce. I always order sauce on the side because heat levels fluctuate by both batch and growing conditions, and I’ve yet to hear of any Santa Fe restaurant willing to offer refunds due to excessive heat.
1203 Cerrillos Road
Although Tecolote Café is located right next to Taco Bell, the Mexican food served here couldn’t be more different. The breakfast burritos are all about pork products: ham, bacon, or sausage. Unlike most other breakfast burritos, the ones at Tecolote are potato-free. The end result is a fluffy omelet encased in a flour tortilla, topped with cheddar. If this version sounds less filling, brace yourself because the dish comes with sides. Never turn down the bakery basket (which holds the day’s fresh-from-the-oven muffins and biscuits) or the potatoes (slivered to resemble chips).
The Pantry has been in business since 1948, and its gently weathered décor retains an old West feel. The portions are certainly large enough to feed the hungriest cowboy – the breakfast burritos could double as a club. Like build-your-own pizzas, they are easy to customize, both in terms of price and ingredients. One of the options is veggie bacon, while another is carne adovada, an extremely spicy red chile-marinated pork. In terms of sides, the pantry-fries (perfectly seasoned red-skinned potatoes) will increase both your satisfaction and your appreciation for elasticated pants!
The Burrito Spot offers good value in a hurry. This Santa Fe chain has three locations. While the drive-thru is less speedy than at national fast food chains, the fresh tortillas and better quality ingredients more than compensate. The breakfast burritos are hearty – packed with tons of potato – and a fair amount of cheese is required to hold the ensemble together. No limp, microwaved bacon here. Instead, the meat forms crispy curls that provide a crunchy contrast to the softness of the other ingredients. Definitely ask for chile sauce on the side here, both to maximize portability and to minimize the chances of your head exploding. To score the best deals, go between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.
El Chile Toreado
950 W. Cordova Road
Sandwiched between Whole Foods and the train tracks, this parking lot food stand is easy to overlook. But a steady stream of locals line up here for their breakfast burrito fix. Pork sausage lends a smokiness to the standard combination of potatoes, egg, and cheese. Be aware that this burrito does contain chopped green chile. The expected red and green sauces are also available, but try branching out with the cilantro sauce, which has enough kick to banish the morning blahs.
1311 Siler Road
This food shack lives in the parking lot of Big Jo True Value Hardware, which is appropriate because it looks as if it were constructed after a shopping spree at the store. That said, Tres Chiles serves up one of the cheapest breakfast burritos on this list. Fillings range from bacon, ham, and Mexican veggies, to chorizo and sausage. The burritos are also packed with sautéed onion, tomato, and bell pepper. The juices from the vegetables mingle with a touch of chile to provide a moist flavor that is surprisingly complex for a breakfast burrito.