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Jun 11, 2003 10:46 AM

best steak burrito

  • d

i am sure this subject has been beat to death already. so i apologize for bringing it up again, but it is something near and dear to my heart. i cannot get good burritos where i live now, so when i am in chicago, i feel i must make up for lost time.

anyhow, my first stop after from ohare is usually taco-burrito king on harlem and higgins. and if i am in the lincoln park area, then i try and get to taco-burrito palace. went to la bamba on halsted and was VERY dissapointed (the original in champaign-urbana was much better).

well, tbk and tbp have always been reliable and very good, but i am wondering if there is some other place i should be trying, as well. i followed the la pasadita and maxwell street threads and they gave me some good ideas. btw, i am staying on far nw side around the harlem/touhy area, but i will have a car. so i am willing to travel for my burrito, as long as it's within reason.

ps => love the tortas and tacos, as well!

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  1. Try El Nuevo Buena Vista- it's on broadway just south of Belmont........had one last night as a matter of fact, and I am not suffering from next-day post burrito bloat syndrome.

    They make a killer Mole steak burrito supreme for $4.25- if you like Mole of course!! also a chicken enchilada plate thats enough for 2.

    It's small, about 6 tables- but there always seems to be one available ... it's been around many years now.

    Another Burrito joint on the same strip is "Super Fast Burritos"--- They get a lot of bad press on chowhounds, but I think they are amongst the best- They also have the best Salsa- very fresh, and loaded with chunks of onion and tomato

    El Nuevo Buena Vista (with green awning)
    3147 N. Broadway

    Super Fast Burrito
    2933 N. Broadway

    2 Replies
    1. re: Paul

      Make sure your health insurance is paid up before going to Super Fast Burrito.

      If you are on the north side around lakeview you should go to Tortas USA. Yes, they are known for their tortas, hence the name. However, they have a build your own burrito deal that allows you to pick from many ingredients--all fresh and well prepared. Their steak (as all their meats are) is prepared extremely well--I've had a steak burrito several times and it's VERY good--not your typical 24 hour drunken burrito house burrito.

      1. re: CMC

        I'd go for Irazu at 1865 N. Milwaukee. I've never been disappointed in the flavor and tenderness of the meat and the freshness of the veggies. And while I was there, I'd have to get a papaya milkshake, just for good measure.

        It's a Costa Rican place (as I'm sure most of you Chowhounds are aware), but they make a fine burrito.

    2. If you like Taco Burrito King, I think you would be especially pleased with The Burrito House. Both make a different kind of burrito than, for example, the kind you would get at La Pasadita (also excellent). But I like Burrito House's much better than Taco Burrito King, caricature notwithstanding. The website only lists three locations, but the only one I have sampled is not among them. It's new, on Addison just east of Elston. I'd love to hear what you think if you get a chance to try it.



      16 Replies
      1. re: Aaron D

        thanks for the tip dude. bh looks right up my alley. btw, when you say la pasadita is a different style, can you elaborate? is it not meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream?

        1. re: dongstadden

          Hmmm...I always hate it when called upon to elaborate on something that I sort of tossed out without thinking it all the way through.

          La Pasadita strikes me as a different genre of restaurant than Taco Burrito King or Burrito House, and I guess I base this largely on the experience of their tacos. La Pasadita serves, for example, carne asada garnished simply with onions and cilantro, while Taco Burrito King gives you lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and cheese. TBK and Burrito House seem to edge ever so slightly toward Taco Bell Mexican, or maybe Taco Cabana tex-mex (if you're familiar with this Texas chain) more than your average taqueria. I really hate to even use Taco Bell as a point of reference, because all three places are so far removed from it, but as points on a spectrum, La Pasadita seems to be a bit farther from it. And between the King and the House, I strongly prefer the latter--I think it's better meat and has a better cooked crispy, chewy, golden tortilla shell, that really holds on to its contents.

          I haven't had a La Pasadita burrito for a while--I don't remember for sure what it includes, but I think it's a bit more sparingly garnished like the taco, with the emphasis on the meat more than the melding of various flavors.

          Please, if someone would care to elaborate more on the famed La Pasadita burrito, other thoughts than mine are probably in order.

          Hope this is somewhat helpful.

          1. re: Aaron D

            wow, VERY helpful. thanks aaron! i will definitely be trying the burrito house.

            1. re: Aaron D

              La Pasadita also puts a killer green salsa on the burrito, and they will add cheese if you request, but I think you pretty much have the garnish. It strikes me that they also brown the beef more than most, and use a very nice flank steak (I used to know the packing house - some place in Wisconsin, maybe, but cannot remember now). So the tortilla is pretty much packed with lovingly browned, nicely seasoned steak. If you want it to be a pure celebration of steak, this is the burrito to get.

              I admit to being a burrito purist, in that I do not like lettuce tomato, or cheese in my burrito, and rarely like sour cream in anything - so that's my bias. And I have doubts about this new merging of wraps and burritos at places like chipotle grill where they put rice into the mix. Will we have burritos with ranch dressing next? Okay, I admit to being slighly bitter because my favorite local burrito joint was sold and the new owners served me something with really bland chicken, and a lot of lettuce and tomato, and hardly even any beans. Then they removed the excellent green and red salsa options from the tables. It is always such a sad moment when you realize a place you have enjoyed for years is gone, and you can never go back... Heck, there is a place for chicken salad wraps (Wendy's?), and I enjoy them for what they are (usually at meetings), but they are not burritos.

              Sorry for the rant, but I am still emotionally scarred by the fact that over a 6 month period all the acceptable Mexican places picked up and left Naperville. I am still healing, and need frequent trips to ByBys and La Quebrada just to face the pain.


              1. re: Aaron D

                I am much more of a taco guy than a burrito guy, and do prefer the minimally dressed ones, like la pasadita's

                here's an old post of Seth's that gives a pretty good feel of La Pasadita's version


                1. re: zim

                  Thanks, zim and dickson, for the clarification. I'm a fan of both types of burritos, and I'll say again that I think Burrito House does an excellent version of the more fully garnished one. I'm glad dickson brought up Chipotle, because that was one comparison I meant to make myself. Burrito House seems to me what Chipotle should aspire has all the flavors that gringos expect to find in a burrito--and flavor is the key. The Chipotle burrito I think is just a bland, tasteless, mass of unseasoned meat and rice as filler. I mean, Burrito Bol--ugh, that place drives me crazy. They try, I supppose, to make some claim as "healthy" fast food, but it tastes so darn...well, it doesn't taste bad, it just doesn't taste. That said, I had to wait 1/2 hour for my one burrito there, so they apparently know their audience's taste.

                  1. re: Aaron D

                    thanks for the warning on chipotle! i have never had one, but came close to in dc. speaking of nationwide mass-marketed burritos, they just opened a baja fresh near my work in jersey. their baja burrito is actually pretty good. the other two, ultimo and mexicano, have too much filler though.

                    1. re: dongstadden

                      the best reason to avoid Chipotle (IMO) is that they are owned by mcdonalds. with the endless number of family owned mexican restaurants available, i cant see giving the big chains any business, even if they had a good 'product'.

                  2. re: zim

                    Yes, Zim, a good taco does seem to be inherently a better thing than a burrito to me as well. But even there, you get this gringo version which is loaded, versus the more authentic version which is meat in a tortilla, soft of course, with a little onion, a little hot sauce.

                    Regarding Chipotle and Baja Fresh, there is one of each out here in the great suburbs, and lacking a decent Mexican restaurant within lunch distance, I have tried both repeatedly and come to an agreement with them. Chipotle's grilled chicken in a soft taco with their bland pico de gallo as a garnish, plus lots of their hot sauce, a little lettuce and cheese, and two or three slices of lemon squeezed on (from the pile of slices out by the drinks) is not a bad meal. Healthy, tasty, and not bad. I would not go there other than for a quick lunch, and never between 1145 and 1, but it can work. I have not been to Baja Fresh for a while, but it seems to me a similar strategy works okay there, chicken or fish tacos, light on the garnishes and then sauce it up at the salsa bar - and I think their salsa is a bit better than Chipotle's.

                    It is not really Mexican food, of course, but it is definitely a step up from a lot of chains. Just avoid the bland (yes, that was the right word) rice filler. The little flecks of green give the rice a little bit of visual interest, but from the taste I have no idea what herb it is supposed to be.


                    1. re: zim


                      Thanks for posting the link to Seth's incredibly literate burrito post, it was a little before I started reading Chowhound and without the link I may never have read Bruce's incredible visual, in reference to the original Lalo's, of a cockroach "waving and tossing his little antennae about, as though conducting an orchestra of mariachis--"

                      As far as La Pasadita goes, I like the steak tacos, barbacoa and lengua, but slightly differ from the consensus as my favorite La Pasadita, and the only one I now go to, is the one on the East side of Ashland, a few door South of Division.

                      Gary (who wonders how Seth went from "I tend to choose places with menus that are motivated by more gastronomic less pedagogic factors" to tendonerific in less than a year. {smile})


                      1. re: G Wiv

                        Yes, Gary, the best one is the shack on the East side. That's the one filled with tough looking vaqueros late, late at night. It's got the most smoke coming off the grill, making for the best asada. And it's got a parking lot.

                        1. re: JeffB

                          actually, I stopped going to that one a few years ago because when I got back in my car there was a flurry of rats jumping out from underneath, and scurrying about. I know this is a big city and that rats and roaches are everywhere but this seemed a little too much like a scene from Willard for my comfort. Anyway, I do not go in that lot any more.


                          1. re: dickson d

                            It is an interesting alley. I have some rat stories, too. My favorite involves a goup of critters frolicking atop a dumpster behind a local favorite, just after a heavy snowfall. I pulled into the lot, and my truck's headlamps were at perfect rat-level to project their enlarged, shadowy images onto the white wall several feet behind. I won't mention the restaurant because I can't be sure the management had done anything wrong or that they were not trying to remedy the problem.

                      2. re: zim

                        I'm with you, zim.

                        La Pasadita makes a "stonerrito," in my opinion. That is, I imagine that you'd have to be stoned or drunk or something to enjoy the whole thing. For me, it only sings one note, and it quickly wears my palate out.

                        I can do a taco, yes.

                        Erik M.

                  3. re: Aaron D

                    do you have the exact address of the bh on addison?

                    1. re: dongstadden

                      Well, there's two on Addison. The one at Addison and Lincoln is on the website, and I've heard that the quality is not markedly different from the one I've been to. I'm not sure of the exact address of that one, but it is right next door to a Little Caesar's, the address of which is 3135 W. Addison, which is just east of Kedzie (3200 W). Hope this helps, and hope you enjoy the burrito.

                  4. I have been told that Las Asadas in Bucktown (2072 N. Western Ave) has the best steak burritos ever. This was from a person who rarely ate red meat or burritos until encountering her first Las Asadas steak burrito.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jorge Julio

                      For what it's worth, Las Asadas, all three La Pasaditas, and apparently a place called La Palapita on north Milwaukee are all owned by the same family. The quality reportedly is pretty even and pretty high among all branches, though I only have first-hand experience with one of the La Pasaditas.

                    2. hey, thanks to everyone for their informative replies! looks like i have alot of burrito-sampling to do.

                      and it turns out i am not a burrito purist after all.
                      in fact, i have always kinda preferred the lettuce-tomato-sour cream style burrito. whenever i have had just-steak burritos (in jersey, arizona), it felt like something was missing. it was just too much meat, granted it was the not the highest quality meat. but i will definitely give la pasadita a try based on the recs here. there is a las asadas in des plaines right?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dongstadden

                        it's next to the mcdonalds museum if that's any help. their chicken burrito is phenomenal.