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Best Burrito San Francisco

  • g

Ok, I know burritos in San Francisco draw some fierce loyalty. My wife and I will be visiting from LA this upcoming weekend, and we are true BURRITO FANATICS. I've checked over at www.burritophile.com and the taqueria that keeps showing up is Taqueria Cancun. If you only could get a burrito at one taqueria in the city, which would it be?

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  1. Burritoeater.com loves Taqueria San Jose and I find their fish tacos to be the best. Of course those aren't burritos but I've never felt the need to try their burritos since I'm so devoted to the tacos.

    For burritos you can't go wrong with El Farolito. I live near Cancun and don't think they make their burritos with love. Papalote is a great 'faux/fancy' burrito.

    Taqueria Cancun
    2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Papalote Mexican Grill
    3409 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Farolito Taqueria
    2779 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Farolito Taqueria
    2950 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Taqueria Cancun
    3211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    11 Replies
    1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

      I think El Farolito is still the "reference" burrito, in the sense that
      they are one of the cheepest and they have long hours, so often
      one must ask "why shouldnt i just go to EF".

      i was a long term taq san jose loyalist, but i seem to remember they raised their
      prices a fair amount, so when i found myelf at 24th and mission, i'd just go to EF
      unless i wanted to "dine in". also these days i eat more tacos ... so my standard
      is tacos or the "all meat burrito" at Taqueria Vallarta on 24th. (in fact, after tacos,
      probably the super suiza quesedillas, and then the burrito, for me, these days).

      Gusto: the El Farolito on 24th is probably a slightly better place for in-house
      dining ... although i suppose the "true el farolito experience" involves queuing
      at the Mission branch at 3am. EF also has good value-for-money agua frescas.

      BTW, I'm not a big fan of La Taqueria ... but it has many supporters.
      Lately, I really like the plce NEXT TO All Star Tamales on Sat at the Allemany Farmers
      Market ... although I dont think they do burritos (not such a fan off All Star).

      1. re: psb

        Taq San Jose seems to do outside the box with offerings like the fish taco and chile rellano burrito. These efforts seem justified in the slight increase in cost over your average run-of-the-bill bean log joint.

        Cancun insists on putting crema in their veggie burritos no matter how nicely you ask them not to.

        Farolito makes sure to grill every tortilla as well as putting nearly a 1/2 of avocado into their veggie.

        Taqueria Vallarta
        3033 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

          Not "nearly" half an avocado -- *precisely* half ... :) A big part of the experience is watching the guy expertly halve, pit, and slice it. During my penance as a vegetarian, I'd eat these twice a week, half one day and half the next. And that half was still big enough to be pretty much a full day's supply of food.

          But if I had to pick just one, and I was looking for meat, I'd go for a carne asada at La Cumbre. Even though something very bad seems to have happened there over the past year (meat not quite what it was, way too much rice) they're still pretty good. And the hot sauce in the squeeze bottles at the tables is real nice.

          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

            re: La Cumbre and carne asada - I found that if you salt it slightly it makes a HUGE difference (easier on a taco of course)...close to the old days. I figured somewhere along the way they stopped salting the skirt steak before grilling it.

            Of course, waiting for a fresh batch helps a lot too. Seems as the turn over at La Cumbre slowed down...so did the carne asada...still the best in the City in my view.

            1. re: ML8000

              I was in SF from LA last October with my mom. Took a cab to La Cumbre to revive old memories late weekday afternoon. Dismal failure -- meat was flabby. But when it started raining and we needed a cab back to our hotel, they couldn't have been nicer -- one of the line guys insisted despite our protests standing outside trying to flag one down with us. Really nice.

              1. re: nosh

                Sorry to hear that...I know that feeling...disappointing on several levels.

                If you ever do go back, you might try a couple of things: 1) hedge your bet and also order pollo asada, very, very good...and has high turn over so it stays fresh and 2) ask them to cook fresh carne asada or as to look at it (I always look to see if it's fresh). I know it sounds like a lot and definitely isn't within old Le Cumbre protocol of "get in line and order" routine...but if I traveled that far, I'd ask.

                Better luck next time.

                1. re: ML8000

                  My memory was hitting up La Cumbre on my ride's way to the airport in '87 and eating my burrito on my AirCal flight. Meaty tasty beef with crispy grilled edges in the tortilla with rice and lots of hot sauce and salsa. But I didn't mean my post to be negative -- they put themselves out so much to help us and it is really appreciated. I'd go back and look for fresh-grilled meats and order tacos fresh from the flames. Ahhh, memories...

                  1. re: nosh

                    Ah that's the "I'll stuff a couple of burritos down" spirit. BTW, they opened a location in downtown San Mateo...off 3rd Ave, I believe "B" Street. It's 98% of the original and has a parking lot for those airport runs.

                    1. re: ML8000

                      I like the San Mateo location quite a bit. I think it's every bit as good as SF, if not better.

      2. re: 5 and Dime Eater

        I'm re-trying some of the local taqueria's right now after going around the block w/ most of them.
        Taqueria La Cumbre (16th & Valencia) was excellent, it's all about the carne asada burrito here.
        Taqueria San Jose was also great... Al Pastor is the star as others have mentioned.

        Off topic warning:
        Still, I have yet to find a better salsa verde than El Farolito's version. Both La Cumbre and San Jose fall short in this department for me.
        I should mention Taqueria Tonayense on 24th and Shotwell for great tacos, Carnitas and Al Pastor are both excellente. They also have a different style of Salsa Verde that I really like that is similiar in style to what you find in Redwood City at places like El Grullense which is what I grew up eating.

        I agree that El Farolito is kinda the reference for burritos in the city, when they're it's the best around for me.

        Papalote is good for the more gentrified style of burrito, very fresh and consistent.

        1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

          Never had the veggie there but Taqueria Cancun gets very good reviews for theirs. Also might try La Taqueria for veggie.

          As for the best, I've resigned to the fact that each place does one or two things really well, thus for different types of burrito (or tacos) are best at different places.

          For me it's La Cumbre for the pollo asada and carne asada (they fixed the asada after a long time), Cancun for the al pastor.

        2. Long topic on this subject from last year:


          I'm not sure I've ever tried a burrito at Taqueria San Jose since they're the kings of al pastor and it's better in a taco.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            If you're not sure you've ever tried a burrito at TSJ, how can you comment so authoritatively that the al pastor is better on a taco?

            1. re: a_and_w

              Because Al pastor is meant to be on a taco. There is no such thing as a burrito in Mexico, outside of the border towns..

              1. re: hankstramm

                Al pastor is traditionally served with corn tortillas.

                I've seen my Mexican friends order burritos in Guadalajara, though there (as in Sonora) that's just meat (or whatever) wrapped in a flour tortilla.

                1. re: hankstramm

                  Give me break. Al pastor is "meant" to be served any way that tastes good. Your observation about the lack of burritos in Mexico is irrelevant. You don't see too many fully loaded submarine sandwiches in Italy. Does that mean you refuse to eat cold cuts on subs in the US?

                  PS: Aren't you the guy who said TSJ's al pastor is totally inauthentic?

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Al pastor is type of taco. Burritos are a construct of the US. The flavor of al pastor isn't MEANT to be mixed with 7 different things and rolled up in a flour tortilla. If you don't know what I mean, you obviously have only eaten the crap Mexican food of the US or resorts in Mexico.

                    Yeah, TSJ's al pastor tastes nothing at all like a traditional al pastor done in Mexico City--the home of Al Pastor--where it is served as the predominant dish in every taqueria. A taqueria is a place where tacos are served--no beans, no rice and no sour cream or guacamole...

                    I'm still trying to figure out your submarine sandwich reference.

                    1. re: hankstramm

                      You sound very dogmatic.

                      Al pastor tastes great in a burrito if it was "meant" to be there or not. The sauce/marinade on the al pastor is set off well against the unctuousness of the sour cream and guacamole. A little spice and freshness from the salsa and you're all set.

                      San Francisco is frequently credited with having invented the everything-stuffed-inside Burrito so if authenticity is what you're looking for you're looking too far South for your criteria. Sure it's based on Mexican flavors/ideas but it's really something that San Francisco now owns.

                      1. re: hankstramm

                        Hankstramm, just because YOU don't like al pastor combined with other flavors, doesn't mean it's "meant" to be enjoyed some other way. I don't recall electing you the decider of how food is "meant" to be tasted.

                        The fully loaded submarine sandwich is an American creation and thus analogous to the burrito. Cured meats are typically enjoyed by themselves in Italy, but I love them with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, peppers, mustard, oil, vinegar, etc. According to your logic, cured meats aren't "meant" to be enjoyed this way, as if meat has a freakin' Telos.

                        I'll let other hounds who are more familiar with the al pastor in Mexico set you straight on the authenticity of TSJ's offerings.

                          1. re: a_and_w

                            What you're eating isn't real al pastor, so it really isn't even relevant. When you try some real al pastor, we'll talk.

                            What they serve in SF is pork adobo and call it al pastor.

                            1. re: hankstramm

                              If it's not "real al pastor" then your argument about how it's "meant" to be eaten is even less persuasive.

                              1. re: a_and_w

                                Tacos of the evening, why can't that meat be used in other ways, tradition?

                          2. re: hankstramm

                            Taqueria San Jose's al pastor is quite similar to al pastor I've had in Guadalajara. They don't put anything on their tacos but meat and pico de gallo.

                            The original home of al pastor is Lebanon. I believe Lebanese immigrants to Mexico first settled in the Yucatan and some of their descendants eventually migrated to the DF.

                  2. My favorite in SF is La Corneta. I haven't eaten at the location in the Mission, but the one in Glen Park is quite good. I've enjoyed shrimp tacos, chicken burritos and carne asada burritos.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ccbweb

                      Ditto ccbweb... I know the topic is burritos, but La Corneta's got a killer carne asade and prawn (HUGE prawns, btw... way larger than El Farolito, another fav) quesadilla... It definitely warrants a 15 minute BART ride during my lunch breaks

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        Corneta is good--never tried a burrito there, but their more authentic Mexican fare is pretty good..for Northerners at least...

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          La Corneta Rocks,Mission location the burritos are bigger...

                        2. Thanks for the input. Just so you know, my preference for burritoes is veggie (beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa), while my wife usually goes with shredded chicken regular burrito (shredded chicken, beans, rice, salsa, cheese - usually adds lettuce). So far, our personal Cali favorite is Taqueria Vallartas (Soquel location) in Santa Cruz. We're excited to be hitting up SF!

                          1. Go the expert on this one: burritoeater.com and their famous 2006 burrito battle called the slab scrum:


                            1. In my opinion, it all depends on what kind of burrito you are getting.

                              I think that La Parrilla (the one on 24th Street only) has the best chicken.

                              Meanwhile, Taqueria San Francisco has really good chorizo burritos, and I like how they toast the burrito - usually it's perfect....this place ranks very high on burrito eater....but I have tried the chicken ones there too and they are not nearly as good.

                              As Robert mentions, Taqueria San Jose has great 'al pastor' but I also usually get this in tacos, but I'm sure it would be good in a burrito too, though al pastor burritos are not my preference.

                              I have a lot of friends who go to Papalote, which is good for veggie burritos and "fancier" burritos.

                              I once had a chicken burrito at Taqueria Cancun and thought it was just okay. That's all I've tried though.

                              If I were you, I would get a chicken burrito at La Parrilla and a veggie burrito somewhere else and eat them together in a park somewhere.

                              That's my two cents...

                              Dave MP

                              1. Any thoughts on best carnitas burrito in SF?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: mrs bacon

                                  La Taqueria has pretty good carnitas...but the burrito/taco is sort of bland overall.

                                  El Tonayense Taco Truck (on Harrison next to the Best Buy) was very good but only eaten there twice...and got 3-4 other types of tacos. I'll have to get only a burrito to tell more.

                                  Overall, in my book, the best in the Bay Area is La Bamba in Mountain View. That stuff is like crack.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    If you're in Mtn. View the carnitas at El Grullense on Castro have been consistently great, nicely charred, they seem to be better at this branch than any of the others.

                                    My one experience with La Bamba was awesome so it's worth checking out.

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      I like my Carnitas a lil dry, nothing worse than soupy carnitas...

                                  2. I just re-read your post and since this has gone off-topic a bit I thought I would get back to your original question.

                                    If you like veggie burritos I would go to Taqueria Cancun. If you like meat in your burritos I think you would be better off somewhere else.

                                    My opinion:
                                    -I think Farolito is best all around. Great salsa verde, excellent burritos w. avocado slices. Meat selection is good, Carne Asada, Grilled chicken and Al Pastor is all very good.

                                    As others mentioned each place has their specialty.
                                    -Taqueria San Jose has great Al Pastor, however I don't like their salsa.
                                    -Taqueria Cancun probably has the best veggie burritos and very good sasla verde.
                                    -Pancho Villa is a San Francisco institution and has great food and great salsa, however I think it's slipped a bit, lthough my last visit was good.
                                    -El Tonayense has great tacos and excellent salsa (they have a rest @ 24th & shotwell, it's better than the trucks and they have a salsa bar)
                                    -Taqueria La Cumbre has great carne asada, salsa is ok.

                                    Have fun!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: virtualguthrie

                                      Interesting, it's exactly the opposite for me. While La Cumbre tops my list for carne asada, for chicken I'd go to Cancun and for vegetarian El Farolito. I don't think I've ever tried it the other way around at either one before ...

                                      Anyway, they're a fun five blocks apart. You could get a chicken or veggie at Farolito, head down to Cancun for the other kind, and carry them both a couple of blocks west to Dolores Park to eat. They travel well. Remember to grab a lot of extra salsa.

                                    2. For a traditional (Tex) Mexican burrito, nothing is better than Taqueria Cancun, although I do really appreciate the lack of filler at La Taqueria.

                                      For a less traditional, more upscale (without being more expensive) but still damn tasty burrito, I do love me some Papalote as well.

                                      1. Thanks for all the input. I understand there is some variance in the different Taqueria Cancuns. My understanding is the one on Mission/19th is the original, but I read somewhere else there is one close to Valencia that is making more consistent burritos. Any thoughts?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Gusto

                                          The one @ 19th and Mission is the original location as far as I know. However, further down Mission st. close to where it intersects w. Valencia does seem to be consistently better IMO. They're both good though, mostly the Valencia location is cleaner and less ghetto, heck even the Market St. location is good but the ambiance is well... not.

                                          1. re: virtualguthrie

                                            I had an al pastor burrito at the Market St location and it was not good at all.

                                            1. re: DezzerSF

                                              I've had the al pastor burrito at the Market St location...usually it's just a notch below 19th/Mission. One thing I've figured out is that Cancun burritos don't travel well for take-out. It has to do with the toasted tortilla...don't do well under foil for 5-10 minutes so it's best to eat there since it does make a difference.

                                              Side note: Cancun use to be called La Parilla Suiza although the food hasn't changed.

                                        2. My favorite is La Taqueria -- on Mission near 25th Street. For some strange reason, they don't have rice but their meats are top quality. I love the chicken and carnitas and the guac is pure mashed avocado, not soupy stuff like the taco trucks on Harrison give you. At La Taqueria, I actually prefer the crispy tacos (you need to specify "dorado" which means golden.) This place is clean and closes at 9pm. At Papalote, the salsa is smoky and incredible and the prawn burritos have big prawns that are somewhat charred. If you eat in at Papalote, be sure to tell them to wrap it in foil because otherwise they just leave it naked on a plate -- harder to eat that way.

                                          1. 1) I concur with all of the love for La Cumbre, La Taqueria, and San Jose. You can't go wrong there.

                                            2) I don't think Papalote is in the same league as the rest of these burritos we're discussing.

                                            3) One non-Mission burrito that is downright phenomenal comes from the walk up counter at Maya on Folsom and Second. I'm not a fan of Maya as a fancy schmancy sit-down Mexican spot, but the walk up counter makes an amazing burrito. Lightly grilled on the outside, incredible ingredients. I strongly recommend.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: PulledPork

                                              Hey thanks for the tip on the walk-up at Maya. I never knew and I worked 2 blocks away for a long time.

                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                Glad to be of service. It's very strange - the restaurant itself is pretty pretentious and pricey yet the walk-up-counter charges 5.25 for a nice sized burrito, 2 bucks per taco (an assortment of about 15 different varieties), and 3 bucks for tortilla soup (the same tortilla soup that costs 8.25 on the lunch menu which really makes no sense).

                                                1. re: PulledPork

                                                  Man and all those years I settled for Parc de Mexico on South Park. I no longer work near by so I'll have to program the memory to recall Maya if I'm walking by at lunch. Definitely a CH tip.

                                                  1. re: PulledPork

                                                    They'd be out of business fast if they only charged $3 in the restaurant.

                                                2. re: PulledPork

                                                  Wow! My bf and I are excited about this. He lives @ Brannan.

                                                  So far no votes for Pancho Villa or Azteca. Too pedestrian? How can you go wrong with a whole wheat tortilla, green chicken, black refried beans, mixed hot and mild salsa, and cheese (melted @ Azteca).

                                                  1. I only have one lunch and one chance to do this right, and I don't want to blow it. My wife is a big fan of the "burrito the size of your head" and I want to get her the best Mission-style burrito possible. We have but one Monday lunch in town, and I have to make it count.

                                                    After extensive research, I had landed on Papalote, but then I came across this thread and I've been thrown off guard. Am I foolish to go there? I've been to Farolito (I forget which location) and I wasn't that blown away - where can I go that offers the best Mission experience?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: lambretta76

                                                      Papalote is my personal favorite burrito in town. Tacqueria Cancun and La Tacqueria are the two places I reccomend for the most Mission-style SF burritos...

                                                      1. re: lambretta76

                                                        Which place is best depends on how you define "best."

                                                        The canonical Mission District burrito as originated at El Faro (still in business at 20th and Folsom) in the 60s is an extra-large steamed flour tortilla (originally they used two) filled with refried beans (made with lard), rice, your choice of meat from the steam table (e.g. carnitas, chicken, tongue), and salsa (usually pico de gallo). A "super" adds cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.

                                                        Modern variations include grilled rather than steamed tortillas, lard-free refried beans, whole beans (sometimes black), freshly-grilled beef, freshly-carved al pastor, fajitas, broccoli, and tofu.

                                                      2. Outside the Mission, you have to look towards Tlatloc (on Commercial Street in the financial district). Too expensive, but just irresistible. In particular, nobody holds a candle to their pinto beans ... absolutely sublime.

                                                        My Mission faves are La Cumbre, Farolito, and Can-Cun, more or less in that order.

                                                        1. Cancun is indeed a tasty burrito. But it is not kind.

                                                          1. There is a place right off of market on church street but I forget the name. Their flagship burrito is the Azteca Burrito and it's monstrous and quite good. Better be sure you can put it away if you go eat there. It may be called Azteca burrito but you can't miss it. from Market street walking towards 17th street it's on the left side barely even a quarter of the block. you see a cafe across the street that is infamous for it's breakfasts and stays open very late for SF. Also there is a Chinese food place next to or a couple doors down on the same side. it's a brown building. Forget the name of that place too. It's been a while since I been home.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: SFFoodGuy

                                                              Yes, it's the Azteca Tacqueria, 235 Church.

                                                            2. Depends on what you want. For pollo asado and al pastor, Taqueria San Jose is the best I've found. I used to be an El Farolito guy for al pastor, but no more. For veggie burritos, Taqueria Cancun can't be beat. I haven't been back to La Cumbre since childhood (when I shocked my third grade teacher with a La Cumbre t-shirt LOL!) but that would be the first place I'd try for carne asada. One place I'd personally skip is La Taqueria. I know it has its fans, but I've always been underwhelmed by the burritos, which strike me as overpriced for what you get.

                                                              13 Replies
                                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                                Taqueria San Jose is my favorite place for tacos al pastor, but I'm not a big fan of their burritos. More generally, I don't think al pastor works as well in a burrito as carnitas or chile verde.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Then we have different preferences in burritos, because a super burrito al pastor or pollo asada at TSJ is about as good as it gets, imo. They don't overload with guac and crema, which are important but can overpower a burrito. This is also one of the best rolled burritos, despite the tortilla being grilled, rather than steamed. As proof of its structural integrity, TSJ routinely survives trips through security at SFO.

                                                                  I'm not a carnitas guy (in any form) and chile verde is too wet for a burrito, imo. I much prefer grilled marinated meats like chicken, steak, and al pastor.

                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                    To me the best Mission burrito is the original, just stewed meat, refried beans, rice, and salsa. To me the "super" variation with cheese, sour cream, and guacamole takes the focus off the meat.

                                                                    As I noted above, this is the problem with the vague question "where do I get the best Mission burrito?" People have very different notions of what "best" means. Mine very definitely does not include whole, black, or lard-free beans; whole-wheat, spinach, or tomato tortilla; brown rice; any vegetables other than those in the salsa; or soy products.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Refried beans have never been my preferred choice -- I like whole pinto or black. And while I agree the guac and crema distract from the meat somehat, the net improvement in overall taste makes the trade-off acceptable to me. If I want to focus on the meat, I'll order a taco. BTW, where is your preferred place for burritos?

                                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                                        Unless you count Truly Mediterranean's schwerma wrap, my favorite burrito place is still La Cumbre, mostly because of their eccentric hot sauce.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Shawarma wraps don't count, but I'm curious -- are they using lavash? Can you get fries or fried eggplant as a topping? What kinds of salads are available?

                                                                          It's been a long time, but I remember that La Cumbre hot sauce. I also love the way they steam the slice of cheese in the tortilla, which ensures even melting. There's a sandwich shop in Providence, RI that does the same thing, and it makes a big difference. I think it may be time for a La Cumbre reunion.

                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                            Lavash, yeah, and a "super" includes potatoes and eggplant.

                                                                            Usual selection of mezze salads, I wouldn't go there for that.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Yum. I wouldn't go for the salads alone, but I'm a big fan of different salads, cole slaws, etc. on my falafel and shawarma sandwiches. Do you know if the owners are Israeli, by any chance?

                                                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                At least one of the original owners (Nabeel Yousef, who now owns Goood Frikin' Chicken) was from Jordan. Judging from the cassettes they sell, I think the current owners might be Latinos, but the food's the same as ever.

                                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                sigh -- if only they would put potatoes (fries) in the burritos in sf. then it would truly be a california burrito.

                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          You bring up a good point. For my wife, the ideal burrito would include rice, black beans, guacamole, crema, and probably some spicy pork or chicken filling, all topped with a nice salsa verde. (I don't think cheese is generally part of the equation.)

                                                                          1. re: lambretta76

                                                                            That sounds like heaven to me, though I like cheese. IMO, the burrito is a bit like a Mexican submarine sandwich, and I personally like condiments and cheese on my sub. What places does your wife like?

                                                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            Judging by requests for "Mission-style burritos" on other boards, most people have in mind the "super" variation when they ask for recommendations.

                                                                    2. Hands down, La Cumbre's Carne Asada on Valencia St. in the mission.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Kenois

                                                                        I was there about 2 wks ago and got the carnitas burrito and took a few bites and then gave it away to a homeless person. Big chunks of pork that were not crispy; guess I should have gotten the carne asada.

                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                          To get crispy carnitas at La Cumbre, you have to look in the tray and point out the piece you want. And sometimes there are no crispy parts. That's true for many places.

                                                                            1. re: dannyboy6

                                                                              La Cumbre isn't known for their carnitas. Like most taquerias or mom and pop places they do a few items very well. I'd stick with the pollo asada or carne asada.

                                                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                                                La Cumbre often had great carnitas back in the day. You could ensure getting a crisp batch by looking at the steam table.

                                                                      2. La Taqueria - carnitas or carne asada. period.

                                                                        1. Gusto, what is your favorite choice of meat?

                                                                          If you're an al pastor lover, than hit up Taqueria Cancun (19th and Mission is my recommendation although some people prefer the 6th and Market location).

                                                                          If it's prawns you seek, than I'd move a little up the road to 23rd and Mission to La Corneta. Their super steak and prawn (while a bit pricey), is superb, and the taqueria has great atmosphere and live music on weekends.

                                                                          For straight up carne asada, it's a tie between El Farolito (24th and Mission) and Mariachi's (16th and Valencia) and for chile verde it's, without a doubt, El Papalote. Actually, forget everything I mentioned before and just go to Papalote.

                                                                          If, however, by any chance, you happen to be craving a burrito late night, La Cumbre (16th and Valencia) seems to stay open later than anywhere else. They also have pretty good nachos, although I only seem to go there when I'm drunk.

                                                                          And if you're in the Richmond or Sunset areas, Gordo's ain't bad, but they have no re-fried beans which is a real bummer for, me.

                                                                          There you go, nice and neat. Happy eats.

                                                                          Taqueria Cancun
                                                                          2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                          Papalote Mexican Grill
                                                                          3409 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                          Gordo Taqueria
                                                                          1239 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                                                          El Farolito Bar
                                                                          2777 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                          Mariachi's Taqueria
                                                                          508 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                          La Cumbre Taqueria
                                                                          515 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                          Gordo Taqueria
                                                                          5450 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                                                          La Corneta Taqueria
                                                                          2731 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: dannyrogue

                                                                            gordo's does offer refried beans now. burritoeater.com gives gordo's the highest score of all restaurants it has visited (clement street location is in 1st place, with 9th ave location in 2nd place).

                                                                            most people who eat gordo's fall into one of two camps: it is either fabulous and perfectly balanced, or it is remarkably mediocre. i think their carnitas burritos are better than any burritos you could buy in the mission.

                                                                            1. re: cornflower55

                                                                              Although that Gordo has the highest score, I suspect the burritoeater.com folks would recommend Papalote as the best all-around burrito in SF. One place that gets no love on burritoeater.com is Taqueria San Jose, which I would recommend above Taqueria Cancun or El Farolito for al pastor.

                                                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                Papalote? I'm always awe struck that anyone would eat there twice, much less conclude that it is the best. Ugh. Do I have to give it another chance? Or is this just one of those places that polarizes people?

                                                                                Actually, I find the ery notion of "best burrito" absurd. There may be good and bad burritos, but "best"???

                                                                                1. re: BernalKC

                                                                                  "best" is probably a bad term. burritoeater has reviewed over 670 burritos and has reviewed every taqueria in san francisco -- i'd say he qualifies as an "expert." his two favorite places are one not in the mission district and barely mentioned in this thread (gordo), and one decidedly untraditional (papalote). so -- to each his (or her) own.

                                                                                  1. re: BernalKC

                                                                                    Like cornflower55 says, "best" was probably a poor word choice. If you ever do go to Papalote again, try ordering whole black beans and asking them to wrap the burrito in foil. I ordered the refried black beans on a subsequent visit and didn't like them as much.

                                                                                  2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                    Funny, a friend of mine just told me he loves Taqueria San Jose for Al Pastor. He gets the Al Pastor, but has them fry the meat for a while to render more fat and crisp the edges, then assemble the burrito without rice and with extra lettuce. By the time he's done with the details of his specific order, it's almost a gyro... just to stir things up, he thought Papalote was totally forgettable, while it's my favorite burrito in the city.

                                                                                    1. re: SteveG

                                                                                      forget papalote,taq san jose,cancun,gordo,la cumbre,panchu villa and many others cosistently the best la taqueria carnitas or carne asada.

                                                                              2. This topic is so near and dear to me, I feel the need to delve right back in after my recent trip to San Francisco. My answer undoubtedly is Papalote. Their super burrito (I went for steak and shrimp) smashes any others around, in large part because of their secret salsa . . . it's just so damn good.
                                                                                The only problem w/ Papalote is price. They've been receiving so many awards and mentions that price points have gone up to the point where the "triple threat" burrito retails around $13 US (before tax). That's obviously way to pricey so for a more affordable burrito I suggest Gordo's (25th & Clement is my favorite location but there's also one at 9th & Irving and a third joint at 19th and Geary). I used to have a total bias toward taqueria's in the Mission, but I've revised that bias with the thought that any Mexican joint that can survive outside of the Mission must be good, save Panchos on Geary near Stanyan . . . that place blows).
                                                                                Of course if it's late at night and other places are closed hit up El Farolito (24th and Mission) or Taqueria Cancun (19th and Mission), both places are delicious, affordable and on par with any other in the city.

                                                                                Now for a new twist to this thread . . . why do burritos in LA stink?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: dannyrogue

                                                                                  Nah, Papalote's a buck or two more, but comparing the triple threat burrito to a normal burrito elsewhere doesn't make sense. I'd say you pay ~1-~$2 more for the burrito, give or take, over El Farolito ($7.25 vs $5.95, super burrito with chips). Worth it? Sometimes. It's on par, pricewise, with Corneta or Pancho Villa and may be cheaper than La Taqueria.

                                                                                2. I hereby withdraw my claim that the super chicken at Taqueria San Jose is the best burrito in SF. After several tests, the super grilled chicken at Papalote now takes the title. As always, I order it with whole black beans and extra orange salsa on the side.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                    I had the occasion last week to remind myself that the carnitas burritos and tacos at South City's La Tapatia are the gold standard. Its a little grocery store with a big taqueria operation. It was a little surreal in that after I bought my food and took it outside to Grand Avenue, I began to see person after person leaning against walls or sitting on the bus benches, up and down the block eating. I hardly noticed them when going into the market but they were everywhere when I came out. The super burrito was not even $6. This is a bad street for a diet what with the Charco de las Ranas ice cream and paletas and Galli Sanitary Bakery just down the street.

                                                                                    La Tapatia Mexicatessen
                                                                                    411 Grand Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080

                                                                                  2. Any of the top selections use higher quality meat than the others?
                                                                                    Also, prefer meat that has some char to it to narrow it down.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: dietndesire

                                                                                      little chihuahua is organic, i believe

                                                                                      1. re: vulber

                                                                                        OK, thanks.
                                                                                        Doesn't have to be organic, there is meat and there is quality meat. Hoping someplace took to a quality ingredients ethos without having to alter other features.
                                                                                        Is Little Chihuahua any good?

                                                                                        1. re: dietndesire

                                                                                          I enjoy Little Chihuahua. It's one of about 10 places I'll happily eat a burrito from, though I haven't tried everywhere under the sun. It's a hard burrito to describe, but they use good quality meat that is flavorful because it is good meat, not because they spice it. The salsas are above average, and the spicy ones are indeed spicy. Still, I like the garlicky spice on meat and searing salsa roja at a real tacqueria, and Little Chihuaha doesn't have that.

                                                                                          I like the one on Divisadero. I have only been to the 24th street one once and I didn't like it as much.

                                                                                          Little Chihuahua
                                                                                          4123 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                                                                          1. re: dietndesire

                                                                                            Little Chihuahua is indeed good, although I still prefer Taqueria Cancun strictly from a flavor standpoint, even if they do (likely) use all factory-farmed meat.

                                                                                            La Taqueria uses higher quality meat, but you'll pay quite a lot for it.

                                                                                            Taqueria Cancun
                                                                                            2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                            La Taqueria
                                                                                            2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                            Little Chihuahua
                                                                                            4123 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                                                                      2. I'm going to have to go against tradition here and recommend a taqueria several blocks away from Mission st that also has a nice atmosphere which I know is a stoke against it in the books of hardcore taqueria fanatics. El Metate on Bryant between 22nd and 23rd Sts has IMO the best inexpensive burritos in SF. It also happens to have a pretty nice room to eat in as well as tables outside with umbrellas. I don't care so much about the atmosphere but I don't see it as a strike against it as I imagine some chowhounds might see it.

                                                                                        In any case, El Metate's burritos are fresh tasting and they have both traditional versions like carne asada and somewhat more adventurous flavors like Chile Colorado with steak and potatoes as well as bistec ala mexicana. They also have a well stocked salsa bar with some interesting flavors on it, including a fruit salsa salad and a cucumber salsa salad as well as traditional carrots and salsas. I like el farolito too as well as cancun but El Metate is IMO better with some added pluses

                                                                                        Taqueria Cancun
                                                                                        3211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                        El Farolito
                                                                                        4817 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                                                                                        El Metate Restaurant
                                                                                        2406 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: mikus

                                                                                          Always good to see a post from you, mikus. Here's a recent report on the bistec ala mexicana too,

                                                                                        2. How about La Espiga De Oro....I have heard a lot about them.....Any thoughts about this place.