Fresno Breakfast Burrito Report
During the past summer I was chatting with my students about breakfast burritos, and one of them asked me where in Fresno one could find the best breakfast burrito. To my surprise, I didn’t have an answer (though I should have said, “In my kitchen”). That launched me on my quest. Here’s my report—hopefully the first of many. But first, I have some sad and unpleasant business to do:
RIP: SUZY’S BBQ breakfast burrito (formerly at the corner of Shaw & Cedar). This was one of my favorites until they closed a few months ago. A soft flour tortilla filled with egg, cheese, pieces of bacon, chunks of potato, and chunky pico de gallo-style salsa full of enough onion to give you bad breath until lunch time. If you asked for some spicy sauce they’d add a little something like Sriracha to it. Those bacony bites will be missed.
Now, on with the report:
TACO GRANDE. Their chile colorado egg burrito (item #4 on their breakfast menu) is so good it’s the breakfast I have a hard time getting past to try something else. Being a chile verde man myself, I was disappointed when I visited Taco Grande and they didn’t have a breakfast burrito with green sauce. So I ordered the chile colorado. And I’ve never looked back.
Medium-large size burrito. Eggs, unmashed pinto beans, chile colorado sauce, and cheese in a warmed and grilled-to-a-light-crispy and chewy tortilla (but not stiff or brittle). The chile colorado sauce is smooth with no meat chunks in it, but tastes like it’s made with meat (kind of like a chili gravy). It drips with juice when you eat it—especially as you get toward the bottom of your burrito; it doesn’t take long before every bite squirts liquid into your waxed-papered plastic basket. Alan’s First Law of Gastronomy: the messier it is, the better it tastes. They have hot sauce (red and green) in bottles in the fridge (next to the bottled drinks). At the Pinedale location, 3 and a half bucks gets you a burrito and a drink (coffee, OJ, or soda).
At their Clovis location I tried a ham & egg burrito (item #1 on their breakfast menu). Medium-large burrito containing eggs, unmashed pinto beans, diced ham, and cheese. Red and green hot sauce in the fridge. The day I visited, however, my 3 and a half bucks got my only a burrito with no drink. Just as well, though, since they only had soda. This burrito was on the dry side; the beans and taco sauce were the only liquid, though it got a bit messier as I got down into the bottom of the burrito. Ham was a bit on the salty side, but it was in nice chunks, not slices. Overall, tasty but unremarkable. The Clovis location is a larger store than the Pinedale location.
7357 N. Blackstone Ave. (in Pinedale)
Fresno, CA 93650
151 W. Bullard Ave., Suite 101
Clovis, CA 93612
breakfast served 7:00-10:00am
other breakfast burritos also available
SHOP N GO market (at Alluvial & Fresno St.). My wife and I tried three different medium-large (semi-portable) breakfast burritos here: tri-tip & egg burrito, a vegetarian egg & cheese burrito, and a chorizo & egg burrito. All contain choice of meat (or no meat on request), cheese, egg, and nicely-flavored potato wedges. Tri-tip tasted very good, meaty and cooked well, though not very spiced. Chorizo was mixed in with the eggs, tasted pretty much like any other chorizo I’ve ever had. They were very willing to make our burrito without meat, and they reduced the price by a buck. While generally tasting good, all three burritos were on the dry side, the only real moisture was the salsa we added to our burritos after we purchased them. Also, burritos were warm but not hot (temperature-wise). They are pre-made and rest on a steam table where you can pick them up; the cheese inside gets soft but doesn’t really melt (this was true of the burritos we picked up off the steam tray as well as the meatless burrito they made for our order). It was here that my wife invented the “melted cheese test” because these burritos didn’t pass. Also, the salsa you put on your burrito is not spicy. Breakfast or lunch, though, it does smell delicious when you walk into the store.
Shop N Go
7420 Fresno St. (at Alluvial
breakfast served 6:00-10:00am
other meats also available
TACOS MARQUITOS. Looks like it caters to the university crowd (and appetite). Large (not portable; served on a plate with a knife and fork) burritos with chunks of potato, pinto beans, cheese, and pieces of bacon mixed into the egg. One of my favorites. Perhaps the best part was the excellent tortilla which is almost certainly made right there in the store. It was thin and turned almost translucent when graced with the juice inside the burrito. The burrito was moist but not wet. Very hot (temperature-wise). Salsa comes in three levels of spice: mild, medium, and hot; tried the hot and was not disappointed. Regular price is $3.65, but from when they open (7:00am) until 11:00am they have a special price of $2.95.
1772 E. Barstow Ave. (Bulldog Plaza, at Cedar Ave.)
other meats also available
EL CONCHINITO CONTENTO. Sit-down restaurant in the Tower District. My wife ordered the breakfast burrito and declared it the best yet. Egg, refried beans (probably with that yummy lard in them), cheese, and thinly sliced and nicely cooked potato slices. Wife said part of what made this burrito so good were the ideal proportions of all the ingredients. The salsa on the table was also quite tasty.
On a side note: I had the huevos rancheros, and while I was less impressed with this dish than with the breakfast burrito (it was swimming in too much liquid), I will note that all the food (salsa, sauces, beans, etc.) tasted homemade. For example, the corn tortilla under my huevos rancheros was a store-bought tortilla, but the corn tortillas they brought to the table for me to eat with my breakfast were definitely homemade tortillas—warm and nice and thick and chewy. We’ll definitely head back for another taste of that burrito and to try some more of their breakfast and lunch menu.
El Conchinito Contento
88 E. Olive Ave.
Fresno, CA 93728
Finally, I’m somewhat embarrassed to include the FRESNO CITY COLLEGE CAFETERIA—I was desperate for some breakfast, so when in Rome—but since I did eat a breakfast burrito I might as well include it. And, as you can imagine, it wasn’t very good. Large burrito with egg, hash browns, cheese, chunky salsa, and meat (optional) such as bacon or sausage. The burrito hovered somewhere between lukewarm and cold—a microwave would be a 150% improvement. Definitely failed the melted cheese test. Hash browns were dry. If I’m desperate, I’ll eat one again. But only if I’m desperate.
Alan, thanks. I need to get to a Taco Grande. I'll throw out a recommendation for Burrito Loco (I'm having brain fade on the name right now, I think that's the right name - it's at Champlain and Teague - a couple doors down from Vons.) Anything with chorizo usually gets my vote, but their chorizo and egg is big and portable. You can get anything to go, but the inside is fairly big and you can sit and enjoy it there as well.
Next question: I am always in search of really good huevos rancheros. El Conchito Contento used to have a fairly decent plate, but I haven't been there in quite a while. Ernesto's (again I keep thinking I may have the name wrong, it's on Ventura before you get to the Fairgrounds) is so-so, depends on who's in the kitchen apparently. Guadalajara (on Weber) was so-so (I haven't tried any other locations.) Any other suggestions?
I'm thinking you have a topic here that deserves it's own thread, tavmark. As mentioned in my response to Alan, I've kind of gotten into a rut with Los Amigos. Served with nicely browned potatoes and decent frijoles. Also like their salsa to pour all over the top.
I've heard that the popular diner (blanking on the name) on the S side of Olive just west of Hwy 99 does a good job, but no first hound experience. I'll also pick my BIL's brain since he's tried almost every dive in the 'burg, and post back.
I love huevos rancheros, but I guess I don't eat it much because I tend to eat Mexican food at take-out places a lot, and take-out places don't have huevos rancheros very often. So I don't have many suggestions for you.
I enjoy h.r. at Toledo's (the one in Pinedale, but I suspect the ones at Shaw & Fresno and the one in Clovis would also work well). Other than that, all I can think of is places I've eaten h.r. in Las Vegas and in the LA/OC area down south.
I think PolarBear is right. Maybe it's time for a h.r. quest.
Great topic and report, Alan. Seems everytime I get a craving for a breakfast burrito I'm on the run and end up grabbing whatever is close by or convenient along my route, and am almost always disappointed.
Last spring I hit El Conchonito Contento several times, really enjoy the place but haven't tried their breakfast fare as yet, will get back soon.
Will also check Los Amigos (NE Shaw & West) to see if they offer one, they're my goto place for huevos rancheros since it's close to home.
A few other places worth checking might be:
Don Pepe (SE Gettysburg & Blackstone)
any of the three Valadez family places:
Country Fare (S side of Belmont btw Maple & Chestnut)
Casa Valadez (NE Butler & Chestnut)
Cafe Leon (4239 N. Blackstone, just N of Ashlan, W side)
Fiesta Mkt. food court (SE Tulare & First) and the opposite corner has Taco Rapido (great posole).
Guadalajara on Weber N of Shields
Cuca's in the Tower Dist. on Olive
Lorena's on Belmont x fr Roeding Park
and of course Chris' Mkt. on Kern on the westside
I have some of these places on my "to do" list for breakfast burritos, but some of these are new to me. I tend to stick more to take-out burritos, but as you can see, I'll visit a sit-down place when I hear about good chow.
Some of these places I've been to and enjoy for lunch or dinner (e.g., Don Pepe's and Fiesta Foods), and some of them I've had breakfast burritos at but that was so long ago I don't remember enough to report, so I'll have to revisit (i.e., Don Pepe's again). But if there's one thing I love, it's a purpose for eating breakfast.
Speaking of h.r. I did have a pretty good one in Delano this morning. I'll post the review on the Delano thread because I have some addresses for some other places I remembered.
Stopped by La Autentica Taqueria this am andgot a breakfast burrito (3.49) with chorizo and added queso to it. First bite I thought way too much tortilla but after stripping the end off of it, my mood lifted greatly. Got it to go and it was still structurally intact after the 20 min. trip to the office. It wasn't the messy type described by alan, more like all of the ingredients melded together in a smooth creamy delight, eggs, chorizo, queso and a few small pieces of tender potato wrapped in a large homemade (I assume) tortilla.
I grabbed little containers of the salsa fresca, tomatillo, and the roasted red salsas (get the bright red w/ flecks of chiles in it, not the homogenous dull brick red, too much vinegar, cumin?) all with a nice kick but not over the top.
La Autentica Taqueria (sign just says "Mexican Food")
3069 W. Ashlan (SW at Marks)
This weeks schedule offered me the chance to go on a BBB (breakfast burrito binge). Here's some brief reports:
El Cochonito Contento on Olive west of Palm (@ 6.00)
Pretty decent version with the chorizo more evident than the one from La Autentica Taqueria, it also seemed to be a little smaller. No verde sauce so I opted for the hot over their regular red (which is quite good btw). The hot was a nice orange color and came in a clear plastic container smaller than normal 2-3 oz versions. Great flavor and bite, usually I'll go through 3-4 of the larger size salsas, but this one little sucker did the job.
Al's Cafe on Olive west of Hwy 99 (4.95 add 1.00 for cheese)
Strange ordering over the phone, asked for the breakfast burrito with chorizo and cheese, told that wasn't their breakfast burrito, did I want a regular burrito? OK, I'll have a chorizo burrito with egg and cheese.... oh, it comes with egg? Did I want to add rice.... no, just cheese. Anyway, this was the 500 lb gorilla of the week, huge in dimensions and heft. It contained standard refried beans that managed to seep through a section of the wrap, but was still able to manage eating it without a knife and fork. Flavor was OK and thought it was a good value for the quantity, red sauce was again OK, but not great.
Cuca's on Olive near Van Ness in the Tower District (@5.50 w/tax)
Aha! This one was a standout. Held up to the trip back to the office, again only red salsa to accompany, but very tasty. The chorizo was up front in this one and not only had great flavor but that drippy, juicy, quality that Alan mention in his original post. Was still able to manage without utensils, will definitely go back for this one again.
El Bajio #2 on Blackstone south of Clinton (@5.50 w/tax)
Having been here for their decent weekday lunch buffet and needing chow yesterday morning close to the office decided to give them a shot. Again, told no verde salsa (they have it out during the week???) and in contrast to the friendly weekday service, this bordered on being surly. Good size, comparable to the others (exc. for Al's) and full of meat, but it had no flavor, I had a hard time believing it was even chorizo. Wouldn't waste the calories here again for a BB, will stick with what they do best.
Now I guess I need to get by Taco Grande for a comparison test. Also have high expectations for Don Pepe and Chris' Mkt.
Loved reading your report, Dave. What with the various postings on huevos rancheros, and an inspiration to branch out into the deliciousness of machaca, huevos Mexicana, jamon, chorizo, tocino, breakfast tortas, breakfast platos, etc., I was considering abadoning the BBQ (breakfast burrito quest) and taking up a broader MBQ (Mexican breakfast quest) instead. With your report, now I'll have to reconsider.
Not to side-track the discussion away from Fresno (because there's a lot more to say about breakfast burritos in Fresno), but I can't help thinking fondly of the breakfast burritos they have at Caruso's Deli in San Luis Obispo. IIRC they call it a "steak burrito" or "tri-tip and egg burrito" or something like that. It had chopped-up pieces of steak, a _fried_ egg (instead of scrambled), a sloppy mess of something like Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, grilled onions, and yellow cheese. Definitely not authentically Mexican, but darned delicious nonetheless. I'd love to find something like that in Fresno.
I should also mention: I had the breakfast burrito at Don Pepe's a few months ago. Didn't take notes, but I wasn't as impressed with it as I am with their lunch-time foods (esp. compared to the tacos and the shrimp dishes). The burrito I had wasn't bad (by any stretch of the imagination) but I wasn't as excited about it as I am their regular menu. Glazebrookgirl finds that hard to believe (given how good their menu is) but I explain it by saying that they specialize in shrimp, not breakfast. Anyway, just a cautionary note regarding those high expectations.