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Jul 25, 2003 03:33 AM

great take-out burrito off of union street

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It's been a while since I've been in the Bay Area but I am trying to remember my all-time favorite take-out burrito place which was a block or two off of union street in the cow hollow area; they had two locations in that general area. anyone know the name? I will be back in SF for a few days and have been having MAJOR cravings...


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  1. Is it La Canasta? I think they only have one branch open now - the one on Octavia (?).

    3 Replies
    1. re: Mari

      Still there and still great...

      La Canasta
      3006 Buchanan St. (between Union and Filbert)
      Monday - Saturday 11am-10pm

      (just one location now)

      1. re: E.Clair

        Thanks to all for the tip. I've walked past and ignored this place for years but was finally motivated to order something (take-out only) after reading these posts. I was a bit dubious on reading the "no lard, low fat/salt" healthy and nutritious descriptions, yet I could see the refritos (so many places used canned) bubbling on the stove, the Mexican matrons cooking behind the counter, and it smelled so good inside, I pressed on.

        I skipped the tacos and burritos (btw, flour tortillas are griddled and not steamed), and went for a chile verde tamale ($2.10) and molletes ($3.45). The order taker had told me that the tamales are made fresh each morning and are not refrigerated and reheated. I neglected to specify pork for my tamale and ended up with chicken which is my least favorite. This was a dry style tamale, served with a little container of green tomatillo sauce on the side. A large rectangular piece of breast meat (1"x3"), rather than shreds, was dried out but had a mildly spicy taste. However, the masa was delicious, infused with chicken flavor through and through. Sitting outside on the sidewalk benches, I ate this out of hand, peeling back the corn husk wrapper. It held together (passing my friend Rebecca's test), yet had a lightness and fluffiness to the texture too. I didn't care for the sauce which had an off, musty taste.

        They describe molletes as "Mexican pizza". This was made from a split bolillo (crusty torpedo-shaped French roll), spread with refritos, jack cheese and sauce, and then broiled. The herbed tomato sauce was fresh and zesty and spiced medium-warm (I had asked for hot). The refritos were creamy and very flavorful, even without pork fat. I liked the combination, especially when topped with the freshly shredded iceberg lettuce garnish.

        There were no aguas frescas available this time. I had a Jarritos guayaba soda.

        After I was done, it struck me that there was no fatty film remaining on the palate, just a clean aftertaste. The food is fresh and feels very healthy. I was pleased enough with these two choices to sample more. In particular, the deep-fried empanadas de queso, pozole rojo, cochinita pibil, and tamales dulces (filled with coconut and raisins) sound good. Guidance on specialties and ordering here would be welcome.

        Delivery is available from 4pm to 9pm.


      2. re: Mari

        La Canasta is it! Thanks so much to all who responded. I have lived in many a city including New York, Miami, and San Diego and have yet to taste a burrito like the ones I used to have at La Canasta, when I lived in SF. Thanks again!

      3. Thanks for the reminder about this place, Nicole and for the update Melanie. I haven't been to that place in a while. I remember it being one of the places that I found when I first moved here three years ago to pull me out of my homesick funk. :) I remember liking the chile colorado there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jen maiser
          Melanie Wong

          Thanks, Jen. Will put the chile colorado on the list of things to try. Last week I was driving by and on impulse double-parked and dashed in to pick up lunch. At the counter, I asked, “what’s the fastest?”, and the answer was “sopa de tortilla”. I was in and out in a flash. On the menu, the tortilla soup is described as “sauteed onions, tomatoes, cilantro and dried chipotle peppers in chicken broth with tortilla strips and jack cheese on top, $2.80”. The broth was very light. If it had not said “chicken”, I might have thought this was a vegetarian version. Delicate and greaseless, it had a refreshing citrusy tartness and subtlety that reminded me of some of the cleansing Thai broths. Again, very fresh and healthy tasting.

          I also picked up a tamale dulce, $1.40, reheated later by steaming. A dessert style tamale, this was filled with raisins and shredded coconut. I liked the flavor fine, but the shredded coconut filling was a little too dry. After removing the corn husk wrapper and eating part of it, I put it back in the steamer unwrapped to hydrate the core further, and it was fine then.