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Why no Mission-style burritos in other cities?

FYI, I used to post under the name "DB" prior to the cnet switch. So I live in southern california and can't seem to find a good mission style burrito. I've heard good reasons for why there's no new york style pizza (water, permits for ovens) and bagels (water), but I can't for the life of me figure out why there isn't such a thing as a good mission-style burrito in LA given that the ingredients seem very basic. what gives?

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  1. if you can't get a mission style burrito, what kind can you get?

    2 Replies
    1. re: toodie jane

      The predominant style of burrito here does not include rice. Meat, beans, maybe avocado or guacamole, and some kind of salsa.

      1. re: mollyomormon

        so the only thing missing is the rice? can you just ask for it to be added? Or is there a basic flavor component missing?

        Here on the central coast all the taco joints heap in fat-laden rice and runny refried beans, and I wish they wouldn't! 'Course, they're serving mostly working men--landscapers, laborers, college guys, etc who can burn off the extra carbs and fat.

        They also inquire "con todos?" If so, you get the kitchen sink in terms of onions, cilantro, pico de gallo, chili sauce, crema and a thin "guacamole" sauce. They are pretty gloppy to eat so I say "solomente con cilantro y pico de gallo, PF" This gets me what I'm looking for in a burro.

        Good luck!

    2. A lot of people in LA think Mission-style burritos are inferior to the local style.

      There are places in New York that purport to sell Mission-style burritos.

      1. Purport is the key word there...

        1 Reply
        1. re: chaddict

          No argument there. Whether they are called "Mission-style" or just "the big kind with rice" I've seen (and had) them in Manhattan (and the Boroughs) since the early 80's. Where to find a good one remains the eternal question.

        2. I would actually prefer non-Mission burritos, but I can't find them in the NYC metro area... I find the rice makes them too filling - I'd rather have just beans, veg and whatever condiment (pico de gallo/crema/etc.).

          1. I completely agree. I have never understood why someone would want rice in a burrito.

            6 Replies
            1. re: MVNYC

              jeez people. try working with your hands, arms, and back for ten hours a day at minimum wage, and think of some convenient AND affordable way to feed yourselves while you sit on the tailgate of a pickup truck for all of your 15 minute lunch/bathroom break. get off your 9-way adjustible office chairs and think about it. you'd be glad for every last fluffy pink grain.

              on a side note, the rice is the only lighter, drier element in the mule which is capable of absorbing surplus salsa moisture and balancing the heavier, denser, stickier ingredients. it ADDS to the dish!

              on another side note, homo sapiens developed civilization on the back of agriculture. grain. rice. the world cannot afford to feed 6-10 billion humans on the atkins plan. do your kidneys and the ecosystem a favor and lay off the flesh for a bite or two. it worked for the last few thousand generations.

              if you are an overfed office worker like most of us, and the rice makes your burrito too big and scary, just eat half! really, the other half reheats nicely the next day, especially since the rice keeps it from liquifying completely into a mound of mush.

              1. re: echo

                Well said! I used to buy burritos like those that you mention from a street vendor, if I couldn't get a cowoker to share one with me I would have it the next day for breakfast. The rice was a little bland but it was a good excuse to add extra salsa.

              2. re: MVNYC

                In authentic Mexican home cooking, almost anything, any left overs, including the kitchen sink, would be thrown in a burrito the next day (waste not, want no). I used to have a co-worker who would freguently bring me a burrito for our morning coffee break, you'd be surprised what I would find in some of them.

                1. re: ChinoWayne

                  Actually, that kinda been a point I've been biting my tongue on... but can no longer... Burritos are strictly an American Creation (The last I researched, no one is sure of the EXACT origin, California or Texas) but not Mexican. It's something the Taco trucks and Taqueria pick up here because Chicanos demand it.

                  Anyway, my very Mexican mother made our burritos simply, with just re-fried beans and filling. Most of the fillings were either Machaca, Choritzo and Eggs (Sometimes with Potatoes) or some form of guisado (Mexican stew). She seldom supplimented any of them with rice. But again, this is just the way she did it... I'm sure everyones Abuelita probably did it a different way.

                  Again, back to the topic at hand, I would totally consider the Mission Burrito to be a strictly regional variation of a very American Burrito. I often equate it with my equally re-viled French Fry and Sour Cream Burrito of San Diego ...


                  1. re: Dommy

                    OK, I can go with "authentic Mexican/American home cooking" ;-) Regardless of how we call it, its origins, or the variations by region, variety is the spice of life for a 'hound, no?

                    1. re: Dommy

                      Burritos originated in Sonora. Mexican food varies a lot regionally so to people from other regions they're foreign food.

                2. I've lived in Southern California most of my life and have never heard the term "Mission-style burrito." But I've seen plenty of burritos with rice, just don't eat 'em that way. For example, I know King Taco will include rice, if you ask. And a local chain in Long Beach/Huntington, called SuperMex, specializes in rice-filled burritos.

                  What are the other characteristics of a Mission-style burrito? Where did the name come from? The Mission District in SF, perhaps?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Mrs Fang

                    Yes, it refers to SF's Mission Distrisct, where burritos generally come loaded with rice, beans, sour cream, and are quite large.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      The standard Mission burrito is your choice of meat with rice, beans, and salsa wrapped in an extra-large flour tortilla. Sour cream is optional and usually costs extra, often as part of a "super burrito" option package that also includes cheese and guacamole.

                  2. More distinct characteristics: steamed tortilla that allows for more elasticity, wrapped in foil. Check out more on Wikipedia:


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Beans

                      Wow! A true testimonial to the power of the 'net.

                      I'll have mine without tofu, thank you.

                    2. I'm not a fan of the Mission Burrito, I don't like the rice, underdone beans and sour cream! BLEH!! But the WORST offense of the Mission style, which is why it's hard to find in L.A. is that gummy steamed flour tortilla... :P

                      I know this is going to get me yelled at by the hounds, but isn't Chipotle, Qdoba and their other immitators doing Mission style?


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Dommy

                        Dommy!: Check out the Wikipedia link!

                        1. re: Dommy

                          Hey, but Chipotle uses Niman Ranch pork. How can you possibly diss that?

                          1. re: Dommy

                            Dommy, I'm trying very hard to remember a goat mole burrito-type thingy that I *THINK* I got at Guelaguetza - it was not something I'd expected to find there, and it was dismayingly huge (my wife and friends were heard to make rude comments, mostly referencing mules) but really good. I could swear it had rice, but no sour cream.

                            If it wasn't at Guelaguetza, it was at that nice restaurant on Avalon in Wilmington - can't ever remember the name, it's the white one with blue trim.

                          2. I don't know what you are talking about because these have been available up and down the San Joaquin Valley from (based on personal experience) Selma, south of Fresno to Sacramento since about 1980 plus or minus a few years. And still are.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Tom Hall

                              Same here on the central coast. Since the mid-eighties when all the Mexican-owned taquerias opened up. I wonder why San Fransicans felt the need to call them Mission-style? Perhaps to distinguish them from the offerings served at more tradtional sit-down Mexican restaurants?

                              I think these fat burros originated when there was a need to feed young laborers with lots of cheap fast food. Here in my area all the young contractor-types eat burros at these places. They are so huge, no one else can finish them (or burn off all those carbs and fat)!

                              1. re: toodie jane

                                We call them "Mission-style" because that's where they were first sold commercially. They didn't start spreading to other neighborhoods until the late 1970s.

                            2. Probably for the same reason that "Good Vibrations" only exists in San Francisco.


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Gary Soup

                                Hmmm, then, I wonder if we'll have good Mexican in Brookline, Mass soon :-)

                                Good Vibrations Expands Its Retail Presence Into the Greater Boston Area : http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/sto...

                                (sorry for ugly link)

                              2. I think just as most regions develop their own take on things, the SF area has created it's own style of burrito.

                                In Los Angeles, some would argue that the burritos served are more "authentic," in the taqueria style. Actually most "street" taco stands serve burritos with meat, cilantro and onions only, sort of like a bigger soft taco in a flour tortilla.

                                I may be marring my chowhound credentials with this next comment, but if you are craving a mission style burrito in the Los Angeles area, I would suggest you try Chipotle. Despite it being a chain, they actually do a decent job of it -- much better in my opinion than the other mexican chains like Baja Fresh, Rubio's and La Salsa. And they definitely feature the mission style -- gigantic burritos with your choice of meat, and all come with beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, salsa and lettuce -- guacamole extra.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: DanaB

                                  Well, what the heck is the "Extra Super Mule" at Gilbert's El Indio, anyway? Anybody who disses SF's Mission Burritos should be forced to eat one of those.

                                  1. re: DanaB

                                    I agree. I enjoy the burritos at Chipotle. The ingredients are fresh and the steak has a great flavor.

                                  2. I like Chipotle too...good salsas...learned about the place after Ozzy Osbourne went on and on about the joint on his show. Anybody else remember that episode when he was eating the burritos everyday? Too funny.

                                    1. I like Chipotle once in a while and probably have eaten there a dozen times at various locations. Its just too bad that filings are LOADED with salt and no one that works there seems to know how to roll a burrito so it just falls apart halfway through. Also they think the more rice they add, the more it looks bigger, the better the burrito is.

                                      What really gets me tough is that they make the cilantro lime rice right at the store, but never seem to know what cilantro is or have any available.

                                      1. For what's it worth, when I lived in Texas mission-style burritos were known as "white boy burritos."

                                        1. Are you new to So. Cal.? If you are, I'd suggest taking a vacation from your search for mission style burritos and sampling other tasty menu items offered at your local taqueria or Mexican restaruant.

                                          1. Baja Fresh makes them this way if you get the Burrito Mexicano. I never knew what a mission-style burrito was before. Thanks for filling me in.

                                            1. Burritos have hit Toronto in the last three years for which I am grateful. Partly due to the returnees from California I suspect.

                                              Rather than going with a standard Mission style what's developed here is a weird mix of the West Coast burrito styles. A burrito with rice and the usual suspects from a Mission burrito, but not steamed. The size is also much smaller than the average SF burrito. Another local variant is offering not only chicken, steak, and pork but also deep fried halibut (done like the fish in fish and chips, another local favourite). I know that this can be done for fish tacos, but has anyone ever heard of halibut burritos?

                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Flat top grills are used mostly. They grill the packaged burrito for a couple of minutes on one side and then turn it over like a burger to do the other side. I was flummoxed the first time I saw it done.

                                                2. re: mikeb

                                                  The way I eat, any kind of fish in a burrito is going to keep the front of my shirt a lot cleaner than fish/filling falling out the open side of a taco. So at home sometimes I make fish burritos, wonder what a fish chimicanga would be like?

                                                  How about double fried fish chimichangas, first batter and fry the fish, then wrap it up with some condiments inside a burrito sized flour tortilla and fry that baby. Heart attack city!

                                                3. Hmmm... Halibut...

                                                  While not expressly halibut, but in So Cal, again from the demands of my Chicano Breathren, you can get 'Baja style' fish burritos that use flakey white fish similar to Halibut. Halibut is rather pricy here, so I'm guessing that is what keeps them from using that particular fish.

                                                  But Fish Burritos including Shrimp have been around for a while...