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 Los Angeles.
Raved about by famished travelers and locals alike, the chile relleno burrito at La Azteca Tortilleria is a thing of beauty and a destination unto itself. They offer other options like carnitas and carne asada, but the cheese-stuffed, perfectly fried chile relleno that makes up the bulk of this burrito is what sets it apart, elevating the humble poblano to heights of Tex-Mex greatness (while you’re at it, you might as well have them add some carne asada to it as well). It’s everything you look for in Tex-Mex cuisine all in one perfect bite, and it’s nothing short of the best burrito in America.
The culinary masterpiece is not only the best in the country, it’s the uncontested best in L.A., as not another example from The City of Angels was named on out list. Angelinos also get bragging rights over their NoCal neighbors in San Francisco, as their La Taqueria’s carnitas burrito fell just short of gold and took the #2 spot instead.