The hunt for the best burrito

Food writer Jan Newberry travels all over California in search of the very best burrito. Plus, secret recipes and readers’ favorites from around the West

Jan Newberry



  • Las Margaritas 541 W. Dimond Blvd.; 907/349-4922. The best chile verde, with tender pork—and a true Mexican atmosphere. –Claudia Svihl, Anchorage



  • The Black Bean Burrito 12 Historic U.S. 66, Ste. 104; 928/779-9905. These handfuls of heaven are made with the freshest ingredients. The “red hotty salsa” complements meats prepared to perfection. We plan our trip to Flagstaff for maximum Black Bean visits! –Mark Ordway, Phoenix


  • Rito’s Mexican Food 907 N.14th St.; 602/262-9842. The green chile burro enchilada-style is the best. The filling is thick and tasty, and the enchilada sauce is well spiced. The line is worth the wait. A favorite of the mayor, policemen, and firemen. –Tom Rogos, Phoenix


  • Nico’s Mexican Food 2965 N. Campbell Ave.; 520/327-3190. This drive-through has won the Tucson Weekly’s best burrito for the last five years—with good reason. I love their breakfast burritos, eggs mixed with machaca. –Rebecca Boren, via email



  • Picante Cocina 1328 Sixth St.; 510/525-3121. They make their own corn tortillas before the customers’ eyes. The Chorizo y Papas burrito is the best! Just enough potatoes to mellow out the spicy sausage. And kid-friendly. –Christine Gough, Occidental, CA


  • Bull Taco 2050 S. Coast Hwy. 101; 760/436-6601. Service with a smile and a location overlooking a state beach with great surfing! And they are about to open a second location in Oceanside. Lobster, abalone, and foie gras are a few choices (including the tried-and-true). –anonymous, via email

Redondo Beach:

  • Riviera Mexican Grill 1615 S. Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310/540-2501. The Works burrito is the best thing in town. This sucker has carne asada and chicken, and I go with the mole sauce—it kicks serious tail with hints of chocolate. –Kyle Daniels, via email

San Francisco:

  • La Cumbre Taqueria 515 Valencia St.; 415/863-8205. I grew up in California. When I get back, usually for a business lunch at a fancy S.F. restaurant, I make time to stop at one burrito joint, usually just before my fancy lunch. La Cumbre in the Mission. Ordering’s easy: carne asada with pinto beans. There’s nothing froofy here. It’s old school. It’s perfect. –Bill Shapiro, New York City

San Jose:

  • Guadalajara Market 452 E. Empire St.; 408/294-0545. The original “Chipotle”-style bur­rito... made to order. This is the real deal! –Mark Maine, via email

Santa Barbara:

  • El Sitio 2830 De La Vina St.; 805/682-9747. After filling the burrito, they put it on the griddle (flat-top) for a minute to brown the tortilla and give it a bit of crunch. –Kenneth Pasternack, via email



  • Chubby’s 1231 W. 38th Ave.; 303/455-9311. Smother the bean burrito in green chile ... yum. And don’t forget the chicharrones. –Martha Martinez Garcia, Oceano, CA


  • Tafolino’s Mexican Restaurant 1901 Youngfield St.; 303/237-3165. I order a burrito with green chile in every Mexican restaurant. But Tafalino’s Burrito Poblano is better than any I’ve had in New Mexico, Utah, or Colorado. –Tammy Shirk, Littleton, CO


  • Manuelita’s Restaurant 311 Harrison Ave.; 719/486-0292. This is a tough decision because Leadville has three of THE BEST Mexican restaurants in Colorado. But Manuelita’s stands out. The pork burrito is smothered in green chile; owner Frederico and his family immigrated here from Mexico and started this restaurant from nothing. –Wayne Patton, Leadville



  • Red Hot Mama’s 5-6607 Kuhio Hwy., Wainiha; 808/826-7266. Red Hot Mama’s is the smallest take-out place you’ve ever seen, but they do a business you wouldn’t believe. Call ahead to order. –K. and J. Miller, Yakima, WA


  • Killer Tacos 66-560 Kamehameha Hwy., Hale‘iwa; 808/637-4573. Not sure if the appeal was the food or because we were in “paradise,” but this burrito in the land of pineapple and shrimp trucks can’t be beat! –Dawn Voss, Upland, CA
  • Kono’s Restaurant 66250 State 83, Hale‘iwa; 808/637-9211. Their breakfast burritos are amazing, and you can watch surf videos while you eat! –Dan Wildrick, via email



  • Despo’s Mexican with Attitude 211 Fourth St.; 208/726-3068. It’s been in business for more than 25 years. The all-veggie Richard Burrito is out of this world! I try to save some for later, but it never makes it home alive. Even in these difficult economic times, the owner chooses to make his establishment green: So, no take-away orders to eliminate foam containers. Better yet, families are sitting down to dinner. –Barbara Dembergh, Hailey, ID


Incline Village:

  • T’s Mesquite Rotisserie 901 Tahoe Blvd.; 775/831-2832. I love Lake Tahoe, and I love this tri-tip burrito, made with meat from the rotating spit. –Elaine Sargent, Reno



  • Sophia’s Place 6313 Fourth St. N.W.; 505/345-3935. They have the BEST breakfast burritos and phenomenal quality of meats. Try the tender pork. –Milt McConnell, Albuquerque


  • Leona’s 4 Medina Lane; 505/351-4569. Down-to-earth and fresh. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. –Veronica Jarvinen, via email



  • Parrilla Grill 635 N.W. 14th St.; 541/617-9600. I vote for the Bombay Bomburrito, brushed with ginger banana chutney, and rolled with cilantro lime rice, bamboo shoots, purple cabbage, and a spicy chile curry sauce. –Natalie Fetsch, Bend


  • “Lonches” to Go 901 River Rd.; 541/461-7920. The setup isn’t fancy, but with burritos this good, it doesn’t need to be. –Anthony St. Clair, Eugene


  • Bonfire Lounge 2821 S.E. Stark St.; 503/232-3704. Burritos are only one of many delicious items on this eclectic menu. Homemade mango salsa too. –Chelsea Catto, Portland
  • ¿Por Qué No? 3524 N. Mississippi Ave.; 503/467-4149. A cheap hole-in-the-wall with local meats; fresh tortillas made all day. I LOVE their avocado dressing/crema combo and their bright green salsa—what’s in it!? –Jodi Levy, Portland


  • El Taco Express 647 W. Centennial Blvd.; 541/741-3760. Try El Super, with meat, a chile relleno, rice, beans, guac, sour cream, and cheese. It weighs in at more than a pound and costs just $4.50. –Jeff Short, Springfield


Saratoga Springs:

  • Café El Lago 262 E. State Rd. 73; 801/766-9690. A beautiful space by the Utah Lake. –Ruth Richins, echo, UT


Port Townsend:

  • Bub’s Tacos San Juan Ave. at F St.; 360/390-8762. Don’t just take my word for it—Bub’s was nominated the best new place to eat in Jefferson County. –Betty Todd, Port Townsend


  • El Toreador 7845 Leary Way N.E.; 425/883-7570. I’ve been going here for 25+ years and have probably eaten 1,000 burritos. I always order the same thing: the pork chile verde burrito. –John Reeves, Redmond


  • Agua Verde Cafe 1303 N.E. Boat St.; 206/545-8570. This place on Portage Bay has an awesome vegetariano (sautéed yams, onions, and peppers with rice, pinto beans, spinach, jack cheese, and guacamole). Rent a kayak after lunch. –Christin Stuart Jamieson, via facebook
  • Gorditos 213 N. 85th St.; 206/706-9352. The burrito grande takes two or three sittings to finish. –David Peterson, via facebook

Walla Walla:

  • Tino’s Tacos Truck usually at S. Ninth Ave. at Malcolm St. Try the steak burrito with grilled onions (yum!). Plus, avocado, cilantro, and lime juice. –Teresa and Chad Goodall, Post Falls, ID



  • Rock Rabbit 23 W. Pine St.; 307/367-2448. The decor is hippie, but the regulars are generations of ranching families. Come hungry—these are for someone who just hiked the Continental Divide. –Mindi Crabb, Pinedale, WY

It’s a wrap

We read every letter you sent, and this is what we learned.

  • Most popular filling: Carne asada
  • Most surprising filling: Foie gras
  • Healthiest filling: Yams
  • Most eco-friendly joint: Despo’s (Ketchum, ID)
  • Most heartfelt plea: Someone please open a decent burrito place in Victoria, B.C.!

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