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Jan 5, 2007 07:59 PM

Once and for all -- rice in a burrito -- Yay or nay?

This topic gets touched on quite a bit here and elsewhere on the site. The topic comes up in "best burrito threads" and "what is a mission burrito" threads and in a few other places.

But -- unless I'm not searching long and hard enough -- I've never seen a definitive thread on just this topic. If there has been, maybe it's old so it's time for a new one.

Here's my take:

I do eat rice in burritos. In fact, I used to always think that rice always was an ingredient in a burrito. Then I read in a review of a restaurant (I think it was Jonathan Gold in LA Weekly, though maybe not) that rice is not really a traditional burrito ingredient. Burritos were more a smear of beans and maybe whatever beef, pork or chicken was leftover from the night before. I'm not a traditionalist at all, "authentic" is one of the least meaningful qualities for me, but I am an improviser and the realization that a great burrito is a tortilla, beans and some leftovers hit home. I don't even know if it is true. (I'm also a sandwich improviser -- odd combinations of whatever meats, condiments and breads I have around make for the best sandwiches of all.)

So, I started ordering my burritos that way. Shrimp burrito, no rice. Chicken burrito, no rice. Sometimes just chicken, or just chili colorado.

And I'm finding that I really do prefer the simpler burritos. No rice (and also no lettuce, no sour cream, no pico de gallo inside). Just some beans, some great meat and some salsa that I add with each bite.

Which is not to say that I won't eat a burrito with rice. I might eat a bean and rice burrito if the mood strikes. But what I've found is that the rice adds more as a consistency ingredient than a flavor ingredient. The rice acts as a stabilizer, sort of like gravel in cement (the beans) and also helps to soak up some of the juice from the meat. A meat and bean burrito can be a little limp and a little drippy. Also, rice-less burritos are smaller.

Rice in a burrito is very common, almost ubiquitous. I suspect that most burritos have rice and that most prefer then that way. Still, I'm curious:

Rice in a burrito: Yay or nay?

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  1. Nay; I don't need the filler.

    (edit: yes--in response to EatNopal's comment below--I've had burritos w/ and w/o rice.)

    1. I've always preferred my burritos without rice. There are some places that seem to use rice as a filler so they can sell their huge burritos. I feel ripped off sometimes. I prefer lettuce as my burrito "filler".

      9 Replies
      1. re: amopdx

        Rather have rice than warm "cooked" lettuce in a burrito. Could never understand why they'd put lettuce in a burrito. Cabbage OK- its crunchy and adds texture.

        1. re: monku

          I am with you on that. Hot, slippery lettuce coated with oil and beans...terrible.

          1. re: Snackish

            my fav burrito is a jamaican jerk chicken caesar burrito (without the rice) the lettuce is always nice and crisp because it is added right before being served. I mostly enjoy the crunchy fresh texture it adds to the burrito.

            1. re: amopdx

              That's not a burrito... that's a 'wrap'...:P


              1. re: Dommy

                what the's always a WRAP unless it's a REAL HOMEMADE tortilla!

                1. re: Countryclassic 49

                  What the hay back at you.
                  How would you define real and homemade? I guess restaurants can't turn out burritos?

                  1. re: Scargod

                    and if you're a mexican what do you call a wrap?

                    oh yeah, a burrito

          2. yay,

            I like the different texture rice provides, that, and I am not a huge fan of refried beans..(although I dont ask them to be left off a burrito either...)

            4 Replies
            1. re: swsidejim

              Definite yay here too... I think my distaste for refried beans stems from my first experience with Mexican -- a glob of refried beans from a can w/ mystery superprocessed melty cheese on top; it tasted like urine. I steered clear of refried beans after that.

              1. re: S U

                ". . .stems from my first experience with Mexican. . ."

                I am guessing that this experience happened in a town far, far removed from any authentic Mexican restaurant. Midwest? Northern California? Canada? East Coast? I give up.

                1. re: ginael

                  you're likely right, ginael......there is nothing like REAL refritos....starting with soaking your own beans; better yet GROWING them, as I do.
                  I soak them overnight; empty the H2O in the a.m. Cover a few inches with fresh water, a dash or two of salt; cook for a few hours until tender. Drain. Mash. put in a frying pan with a little bacon grease...YES, I said that!.... stir them around until they are good'nhot again...grate a little good cheese on them and hallelujah!

                  1. re: Countryclassic 49

                    Were back to real again. Last night I had some awful real refritos. They burn't the beans at some point. They were a very dark brown and had been run through a blender at some point. Very strange smooth texture and not very good tasting.
                    They were purdy on the plate though!

            2. Wet burrito? Then yay.

              Dry? Then nay.