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Jul 18, 2007 11:24 AM

Best Burrito San Francisco

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 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. 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 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 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: and their famous 2006 burrito battle called the slab scrum: