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Has anyone EVER succussfuly found a single SoCal Style Burrito here?

  • n

I know its been discussed in depth, but Ive searched the city over, and then over and am not satisfied. (if you care) I researched it and found out about places that grill their tortillas in the mission, and tried them and liked them...but

At all those places the torillas were criticaly different. The ones in SD all seem to be more yellow, perhaps thicker, and less floury--almost as if lard was in the batter. The chicken is always mixed white and dark meat,and stewed in an orangeish liquid. With a glop of garlicky guacamole, the log is perfect--missing both beans and rice. The whole thing is also more narrow than the northern counterparts.

People have recomended cancun, and el taquria, and asking to hold the beans and rice...but i swear it is still different.

Is there a SINGLE burritoe place up here, like EVERY Burrito PLACE is down south.


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  1. Im from Univ. Heights and I sure know what you are talking about. I miss those 24hour stands, peddling 3.25 cent meals/addictions. The burritos are different there, and have always wondored why they are all one way down there, and are all unanimously different up here. You cannot just order no beans or rice--the entire thing from chicken to tortilla is slightly different in the mission.

    Its a mystery, burritos are made for gringos primarily anyway. Why the differnce? And why hasnt one place out of dozens of SF taqurias capitalized off of the SoCal expatriot's homeland tastebuds. Perhaps they have??

    4 Replies
    1. re: Shayna Olson

      >Why the differnce? And why hasnt one place out of >dozens of SF taqurias capitalized off of the SoCal >expatriot's homeland tastebuds.

      Because the Mission-style Burrito is a better burrito, it's what the customers in the Bay Area have grown accustom to and what they want. I am a native San Diegan. I lived in the Bay Area for 10 years before returning to my roots in 2001. I much prefer the burritos in the Bay Area to the ones in San Diego, with one exception - the carnitas burrito at Sombero in Mission Valley.

      As for why the burritos are different in the different parts of the State, that's easy. Look at the immigration patterns. Most of the early immigration into the LA basin was by folks from Guadalajara and the surrounding area, i.e. the State of Jalisco. They brought that style of food with them. Immigration into the Bay Area is most likely from parts of Mexico other than Guadalajara. The food in Mexico is HIGHLY diverse and one region's food culture is mostly likely to be quite different from another region's. But no matter the region, they all adapt to what they find here on this side of the border. More meat is eaten in the Northern part of Mexico than in the Central and Southern parts, since SoCal was originally settled by immigrants from the Northern part of Mexico, their food may reflect their preferrence for meat by including more of it.

      1. re: Gayla

        THank You for your reply. Immigrational patterns are an interesting theory. Personaly I would never make the mistake of saying either style is better outside of taste, especialy considing the SoCal riceless version is a little closer to the genuine mexican taco.
        To each his own. Anyideas about the difference in tortillas i was talking about?

        1. re: new2city

          Ummm...............a genuine Mexican taco doesn't resemble anything like a meat burrito, no matter in which part of the State of California it's been made. Most American tacos barely resmeble a genuine Mexican taco.

          The difference in flour tortillas is probably more a matter of who the vendor is than anything. While the method for making tortillas may be similar from region to region, the formula for the tortilla dough will differ form region to region, as well as from cook to cook. Flours are not created equal and will absorb different amounts of water, the amount of fat used will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. There can be a huge number of variables that affect why a tortilla might be different from one part of the state to another. The tortilla manufacturers in SoCal vend what will sell in their local market. The same goes for the local market in NorCal as well. Most commercial vendors are in business to make money ;-), they're going to sell whatever brings them the best return. And, there may be a difference in preferrence between the tortilla eating community in SoCal and that of NorCal due to where they originally came from in Mexico.

          BTW, I do think that SoCal does tacos - regular and rolled - better than NorCal.

        2. re: Gayla
          Randy Salenfriend

          I'm with Gayla. I lived in San Diego for 10 years before relocating to the Bay Area in 1990. I had my burrito epiphany at La Cumbre and wondered where those burritos had been all my life. To compare SoCal burritos from an insipid chain like Roberto's of all places to those at La Cumbre or La Taqueria, or virtually all the wonderful spots in The Mission is like comparing McDonald's burgers to say, Mo's or Rosamunde or....well, you get idea.

      2. Donde es Briskity, juicy, grainy beef. Por Favor. I find the diced size of any asada (carne, Pollo) to be a bit dry.



        1 Reply
        1. re: Bob Thwart
          shredded beef

          try la imperial in hayward. it's on either B or C street and it's around $3.50.

        2. I used to get really good burrito's in LA, like at Yucca Hut in Los Feliz, that were filled with wonderful saucy shredded meats. Also ate these at home of a Mexican friend.

          I only like to eat at La Taqueria here because I hate burritos stuffed up with rice--it dilutes the taste of everything else and turns the burrito into a starch bomb.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Thea

            For me, it's the beans that really dilute the flavors of the meats. Try a taco with meat and beans and you'll see how the beans just "bland" out the whole thing. Rice, I don't mind -- I see it as a way to soak up juices that would otherwise run out of the burrito. So for me, rice contributes to the (preservation of) flavor.


            1. re: Peter Yee

              I agree with Thea on the rice -- makes the whole thing too heavy without adding much -- but people are very willing to make burritos without rice when I ask.

          2. If you're ever in Santa Cruz, check out Tacos Moreno. These are some of the best of the so-called SoCal style burritos that I've found north of LA. No rice, and their salsa simply rocks.

            1. n
              Nathan Landau

              I can't explain the reason for differences in burritos from south to north (the water??). But I don't think it's the origin of people within Mexico, though it would be interesting to see actual statistics on it. There are a lot of people from Jalisco here too. You see signs on cars and that sort of thing. There also seem to be a lot of people from the neighboring state of Michoacan, I believe the paletas vendors are often from Michoacan.

              1. y
                Yuzo Watanabe

                As a SoCal transplant living in the bay area for six years, I have yet to find _anything_ even closely resembling a SoCal burrito here. That's not for the lack of trying either.. After ruminating on the exact details that make NoCal burritos different, I've been able to boil it down to a few key factors:


                Probably the most important factor. I've noticed that NoCal tortillas tend to be on the heavier side, as if there's more egg. It's hard to describe it unless you pit one against the other, but SoCal tortillas tend to be drier and more like parchment compared to their NoCal brethren. A properly made SoCal burrito tends to "flake".


                It must be all the gringos, but everyone here seems to use whole pinto beans as the default. Every SoCal burrito place (barring yuppie joints like Fresh Mex, Rubios, etc) I've been to has always served refried beans as the standard. After I figured this out and started ordering my burritos w/ refried beans, they magically started tasting better (to me) :).


                NoCal burritos, on the whole, tend to be much more "wet" than down south. Part of it has to do with the amount of salsa used, while the biggest factor is the predominance of sour cream and guacamole additions. You can get them in SoCal sure, but it seems more rare. Cheese in the burrito (unless it's straight bean and cheese) is also more rare down south. When I think SoCal burrito I think of a dry log with beans, rice, and meat. The only adds would be a dollop of salsa and onions and cilantro.

                All in all I've started to get used to Bay Area burritos, but the first thing I do when visiting SoCal is to drop by the local taqueria.

                And if the opinion of a fellow SoCal burrito lover is worth anything, my two favorite burrito joints I've found so far are El Farrolito (24th and Mission), and Aguilla Market in Redwood City.


                7 Replies
                1. re: Yuzo Watanabe

                  Thanks for explaining the SoCal-NoCal burrito differences clearly to a Northern California native. When I was a kid, I distinctly remember Thursdays as "burrito days" in 2nd and 3rd grades, and everyone was served one burrito - a small, white, flaky, very dry tortilla filled with a whipped bean-and possibly beef-mixture. No cheese, salsa, rice or anything else. (yay!) They looked frozen and reheated and were often used for great comedy on the playground. But I still liked them and sometimes wonder, when I'm eating a typical San Francisco burrito, what happened?

                  During my Marin childhood (late 70s-80s), all Mexican restaurants had only refried beans -- our favorite was Lucinda's in Strawberry next door to the hairdreser. All this was before nouvelle California-fresh-mex-and so on changed the culinary landscape. Lucinda's is still there, but I usually find myself at Hi-Tech fawning over the overwhelming menu and building my own huge, sloppy monster. Or I'll run over to Mill Valley and pick up an Indian burrito at that place near the library (sacrilege! But tasty...) But it's nothing like the small, modest burrito of the playground.

                  Trader Joe's offers a bunch of frozen burritos that astill feature the dry, flaky white tortillas -- no surprise since TJ's is from South Pasadena, but I have yet to try the meat ones. Maybe they're worth a taste.

                  1. re: Yuzo Watanabe

                    I don't think there's any egg in tortillas, let alone "more."

                    Could be more fat (lard or vegetable shortening), though.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I think the difference is mostly in the heating/cooking method. The SoCal flour tortilla is a bit thinner and chewier and is more blistered as it comes from the factory. Then it is heated on the grill before rolling and sometimes the rolled up burrito is dry-cooked on the grill too. Not many SF burrito places do this, most steam the thicker burrito, so it doesn't get that flakey, blistered quality and is instead soft.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        Yuzo Watanabe

                        I think you're right, there's a difference between SoCal and NoCal tortillas even when bought at the grocery stores (which makes sense since that's probably where the taquerias buy them). Definitely thicker up here.

                        Most of the taquerias up north that I've been to don't seem to steam the burritos however. Even when they throw them on the grill it seems that they don't flake like SoCal burritos. Seems to point more towards the recipe than preparation.

                        One cool thing I found up here in the bay area that I've _never_ seen in SoCal was the cook to order carne asada. At Aguilla Market in Redwood city they measure out the carne asada and grill it right before they put it in your burrito. It may be an outlier though, most of the mission burrito joints I've been to seem to mass cook tons of beef and have it sitting around before it gets in your burrito.


                        1. re: Yuzo Watanabe

                          If you're inspired to make your own burritos at home, I like Guerrero brand flour tortillas. They're thinner, chewier, and when I heat them in a dry skillet to make quesadillas, they blister and flake. Mission brand is made by the same company, but I find them overly doughy and soft.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            Yuzo Watanabe

                            Heh, that's pretty funny, I came to that exact same conclusion myself. I used to buy Mission but once I tried Guerrero I switched over. Same reason too, Mission seemed too doughy/thick.


                    2. re: Yuzo Watanabe

                      I'd have to disagree on a lot of your explanations. The refried beans, for instance, makes for a wetter burrito. Also, my favorite burritos in LA from places like Chabelita (on Western), or Burrito King (Sunset), or even at the King Taco chain, are the wet ingredients like Machaca or chile verde -- the stewy, saucy stuff. And no rice. The tortillas are usually warmed on a grill rather than in a steamer, giving a flakier texture. I agree with you about the additions like salsa, crema, guacamole and such. Last time I was in SF, I got my old standby carne asada burrito at La Cumbre which comes pretty much unemcumbered with the other extraneous stuff. It was as good as I remember.