You probably already know that if you head south of the border, down Mexico way, you’re not going to find any Chipotle locations. And you’re also not going to find any burritos that look like the ones sold at Chipotle. Because those aren’t Mexican burritos; they’re Mission-style burritos, invented in San Francisco’s Mission District. The burritos that you’ll actually find in Mexico — if you find any at all — won’t look much like your Chipotle gutbuster.
First of all, burritos aren’t nearly as popular in Mexico as tacos are. They’re most commonly found in the city of Juarez and Northern Mexican border towns, and the main thing that sets them apart from traditional Mexican tacos is the fact that they’re made with flour tortillas instead of corn; they’re also usually rolled up.
These actual Mexican burritos can be filled with a variety of meats and other fillings, but usually it’s just one or two ingredients — maybe some barbacoa and a little bit of refried beans, with maybe a sprinkling of asadero cheese. Potato-filled burritos are also common, with chorizo, roasted peppers, or grilled cactus paddle (nopal). They’re served at roadside stands and casual restaurants, and are always inexpensive. They’re also quite small (some resemble cigars); you’ll probably want to buy a few if you want to make it a meal.
In fact, of all the chain restaurant burritos out there, it’s Taco Bell (of all places) that’s serving the closest approximation of an authentic Mexican burrito: their bean burrito, which is just a smallish flour tortilla rolled up with refried beans, onions, a little cheese, and red chile sauce. Who’d’ve thunk it?