Burritos are a traditional food of Ciudad Juárez, a city bordering El Paso, Texas, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, where people buy them at restaurants and roadside stands. Northern Mexican border towns like Villa Ahumada have an established reputation for serving burritos. Authentic Mexican burritos are usually small and thin, with flour tortillas containing only one or two of several ingredients: either some form of meat or fish, potato, rice, beans, asadero cheese, chile rajas, or chile relleno. Other ingredients may include: barbacoa, mole, refried beans and cheese (a "bean and cheese" burrito), or deshebrada (shredded slow-cooked flank steak). The deshebrada burrito has a variation with chile colorado (mild to moderately hot) and one with salsa verde (very hot). The Mexican burrito may be a northern variation of the traditional taco de Canasta, which is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Although burritos are one of the most popular examples of Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico, they are only popular in the northern part of Mexico. However, they are beginning to appear in some nontraditional venues in other parts of Mexico. Wheat flour tortillas (used in burritos) are now often seen throughout much of Mexico (possibly due to these areas being less than optimal for growing maize or corn), despite at one time being particular to northwestern Mexico, the Southwestern US Mexican-American community, and Pueblo Indian tribes.
Burritos are commonly called tacos de harina ("wheat flour tacos") in Central Mexico and Southern Mexico, and burritas (the feminine variation with 'a') in "northern-style" restaurants outside of northern Mexico proper. A long and thin fried burrito called a chivichanga, which is similar to a chimichanga, is prepared in the state of Sonora and vicinity.
A variation of the burrito found in the Mexican state of Sonora is known as the burro percherón.
San Francisco Mission burrito
The origins of the Mission burrito or Mission-style burrito can be traced back to San Francisco, in the Mission District taquerías of the 1960s and 1970s. This type of burrito is produced on a steam table assembly line, and is characterized by a large stuffed flour tortilla wrapped in aluminum foil, and may include fillings such as carne asada (beef), Mexican-style rice, whole beans (not refritos), sour cream and onion.
Febronio Ontiveros claims to have offered the first retail burrito in San Francisco in 1961 at El Faro ("The Lighthouse"), a corner grocery store on Folsom Street. Ontiveros claims credit for inventing the "super burrito", a style which may have led to the early development of the "San Francisco style". This innovative style involves the addition of rice, sour cream and guacamole to the standard burrito of meat, beans, and cheese. The Mission burrito emerged as a regional culinary movement during the 1970s and 1980s. The popularity of San Francisco-style burritos has grown locally at Mission Street taquerias like El Farolito, and nationally at chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Illegal Pete's, Chevy's Fresh Mex, Freebirds World Burrito, Qdoba, and Barberitos. Chili's had a brief stint with "Fresh Mex" foods and burritos between 2015 and 2017. In 1995, World Wrapps opened in San Francisco's Marina District and brought a burrito-inspired wrap style to the restaurant industry.
San Diego-style burritos include "California burritos" and carne asada burritos. The style has been described by food writers as an "austere meal of meat, cheese and salsa", a contrast to the Mission-style burrito, which is typically larger and always contains more ingredients. A significant subgroup of Mexican restaurants in San Diego serves burritos described as "no-frills" and, in contrast to Mission-style burritos, the assembly line is not used.
In the early 1960s, Roberto Robledo opened a tortilleria in San Diego and learned the restaurant business. Robledo began selling small bean burritos (or burrititos) at La Lomita in the late 1960s, and by 1970, he had established the first Roberto's Taco Shop. By 1999, Roberto's restaurants had expanded to a chain of 60 taco shops offering fresh burritos known for their distinctive quality. Hoping to draw on the prestige of Roberto's, new taco shops in San Diego began using the "-bertos" suffix, with names like Alberto's, Filiberto's, Hilberto's, and others.
The California burrito originated at an unknown -berto's named restaurant in San Diego in the 1980s. The Fresh MXN chain (formerly Santana's) also claimed to be the originator of the California burrito. The earliest-known published mention was in a 1995 article in the Albuquerque Tribune. The California burrito typically consists of chunks of carne asada meat, French fries, cheese, and either cilantro, pico de gallo, sour cream, onion, or guacamole (or some combination of these five). The ingredients are similar to those used in the "carne asada fries" dish, and it is considered a staple of the local cuisine of San Diego. With the merging of French fries and more traditional burrito fillings, the California burrito is an example of fusion border food. The California burrito has also been described as a "trans-class" food item, as it is regularly consumed by people across socioeconomic lines. Variants of this burrito may add shrimp (surf and turf), or substitute carnitas (pork) or chicken for carne asada.
The carne asada burrito is considered one of the regional foods of San Diego. Carolynn Carreno has said that to San Diegans, "carne asada burritos are as integral to the experience of the place as a slice of (pizza) pie is to a New Yorker." The San Diego-style carne asada burrito is served with chunks of carne asada, guacamole, and pico de gallo salsa. This "wall-to-wall" use of meat contrasts to burrito styles that use rice and beans as filler ingredients.
Los Angeles also has several unique local burrito varieties. The first is the most traditional and is exemplified by the versions at Mexican-American restaurants such as Al & Bea's, Lupe's #2, and Burrito King. These restaurants have often been in existence for decades, and they offer a distinctly Americanized menu compared with the typical taqueria. The burrito of L.A. itself can take multiple forms, but is almost always dominated by some combination of: refried beans, meat (often stewed beef or chili), and cheese (usually cheddar), with rice and other ingredients typical of Mission burritos offered as add-ons, if at all.
The most basic version of this burrito consists of only beans and cheese; beyond this, there are the "green chile" and "red chile" burritos, which may simply mean the addition of chiles or a meatless chile sauce to the plain beans (as at Al & Bea's), meat or cheese as well. Rice, again, is rarely included, which, along with the choice of chiles, is one of the style's most defining traits. The menu will then usually go on to list multiple other combinations, such as beef and bean, all-beef, a "special" with further ingredients, etc. If the restaurant also offers hamburgers and sandwiches, it may sell a burrito version of these, such as a "hot dog burrito".
In addition to the version described, Los Angeles is also home to three burrito styles that can be said to fall under the category of Mexican fusion cuisine. The first is the famed "kosher burrito," served since 1946 at its eponymous restaurant at 1st Street and Main in Downtown Los Angeles. Another is the Korean kogi burrito, invented by American chef Roy Choi, the first to combine Mexican and Korean cuisines. The kogi burrito was named the seventh best burrito in Los Angeles in 2012 by the LA Weekly. The kogi burrito is accented with chile-soy vinaigrette, sesame oil, and fresh lime juice. Food writer Cathy Chaplin has said that "this is what Los Angeles tastes like." Finally, there is the sushi burrito, most notably the version sold at the Jogasaki food truck. Wrapped in flour tortillas, sushi burritos include such fillings as spicy tuna, tempura, and cucumber.
The existence of such a large truly Mexican community in Los Angeles also makes it possible to find a variety of authentic burrito dishes from different regions of Mexico: from Oaxaca to Hidalgo.
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