Restaurant Wars: AA Burritos


The moment I start craving a burrito, I get tunnel vision: I want a burrito, and only a burrito will do.

Put simply, burritos are an amazingly practical food for college students. They’re inexpensive, filling, feature almost all of the food groups, easy to grab on the go and bursting with flavor. With so many burrito dining options around campus, it seems like everyone has picked their favorite spot for a quick Mexican bite. I took on the challenge of trying out three of the most popular burrito restaurants in Ann Arbor, back to back to back. And while all were delicious, only one could end up on top as the best burrito in Ann Arbor.

#3 Pancheros:

Photo by Julie Mirliss

While many consider Pancheros a poor man’s Chipotle, the casual Mexican joint actually has some noteworthy ingredients available at the build-your-own burrito line. The veggies are seasonable and grilled, and my mix included red and green bell peppers. The burritos are a manageable size, and the tortillas are pressed right in front of you. Problem? The freshness of the ingredients at Pancheros is not on par with its competitors. The lettuce was a bit wilted, the tomato salsa was mushy, and I didn’t trust the meat (which says a lot, as I am usually fearless when it comes to questionable meat). While Pancheros is open for late-night, don’t be too tempted…there are better burrito options on campus.

#2 Big Ten Burritos (BTB):

Photo by Julie Mirliss

With two locations on campus, BTB is the perfect spot for a “hole-in-the-wall” burrito. The location on State Street seems to be the top pick of the two, and despite limited seating, there’s always a long line. Thankfully the burritos are made ridiculously fast, due to a fairly simple menu. Unlike Chipotle and Pancheros, you don’t build your own burrito — each burrito comes with certain ingredients. Although the ingredients aren’t the freshest I’ve ever had, they do the trick.

You can also mix it up: make any burrito “deluxe,” which adds sour cream and guacamole. For an old favorite that’s no longer listed on the menu (but still totally available), ask for the “Classic BTB Delux,” which includes pinto beans, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream and guacamole. While BTB may not have the best ingredients, the food is quick, cheap and satisfies any simple burrito craving.

#1 Chipotle:

Photo by Julie Mirliss

While I may be a little biased, Chipotle never seems to disappoint. While the restaurant may not offer all of the items its competitors do (I am still hopeful they will add queso to the menu someday), the freshness and quality of the ingredients at Chipotle cannot be beat. The restaurant boasts serving “food with integrity,” meaning they work to find meat and vegetables raised and grown by farmers who don’t use hormones. Chipotle’s dedication to quality can be seen in their burritos: the meat is always cooked and seasoned perfectly, their salsas are fresh, and just the thought of the guacamole makes me salivate. If you’re looking for a burrito to completely indulge in, Chipotle is your move. I’ll say it: it’s easily the best burrito on campus.

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