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Jan 27, 2008 06:37 PM

Are the vegetarian burritos really vegetarian?

I am a vegetarian and frequent a lot of mexican restaurants in SF. Many of the restaurants I go to claim to have vegetarian burritos but the rice sometimes tastes like it might be made with chicken stock. I know it probably varies from place to place but I'm wondering if in general, at burrito places in the bay, if the board says the burritos are vegetarian are they really?

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  1. I mean this completely sincerely: how do you know it tastes like chicken stock?

    6 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb

      Chicken stock has a distinct flavor. So does fish stock, shrimp stock, etc. I choose not to think about it sometimes but I am curious if some restaurants use chicken stock and still call the burritos vegetarian. I'm wondering if they confuse the word vegetarian with having no chunks of meat and should say vegetable instead.

      1. re: porky pine

        What ccbweb means is how do you know that distinct flavor. He is being humorous. The answer,I am sure, is that you are a vegetarian convert with a memory of those fleshy flavors.
        There are people like Aunt Voula in MY Big Fat Greek Wedding.

        Aunt Voula: What do you mean he don't eat no meat?
        [the entire room stops, in shock]
        Aunt Voula: Oh, that's okay. I make lamb.

        1. re: wolfe

          Thanks for the clarificaion. Now I get it. I stopped eating all meat when I was ten but started eating fish a few years ago. I hang out with people who eat all sorts of different foods. My friends are constantly making chicken stocks and I know the smell. Still wondering if the vegetarian burritos are really vegetarian..

          1. re: porky pine

            Traditionally Spanish rice uses chicken stock, so I'd assume that's the case with most rice at taquerias. It's not unlike the lard issue with beans.

            Beyond that, I'd do a google search for full vegan eats in SF. I'd be shocked if there wasn't some site with the info. I think that's the fastest way to cut out the uncertainty.

        2. re: porky pine

          I think what ccweb was getting at was, how would a vegetarian know what chicken stock tastes like?

          But you have a legitimate concern. Other issues would be whether the tortilla was made with lard, whether the cheese used a vegetarian "rennet", etc.

          1. re: porky pine

            most likely for most vegetarians this is a bad taste and noted without having had it or giving up flesh.

        3. Papalote advertises vegan rice and offers real vegetarian burritos, etc. I like the vegetarian burrito, one of my favorite items on the sure to order the extra hot sauce which is not that hot but smoky nice smooth sauce.
          Green Chile Kitchen- offers real vegetarian burritos

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lori SF

            Thanks so much Lori. I'll check out Papalote when I'm in the city next week.

          2. Pancho Villa and El Toro (same ownership) offer yellow Spanish rice, which plausibly has chicken stock (I've never asked), and plain white rice, which I imagine is strictly vegetarian. I think their veggie burrito is lame -- they put in soggy steamed vegetables -- so instead I order a bean & rice burrito with avocado (freshly cut) and garlicky grilled mushrooms.

            El Toro Taqueria
            598 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            Pancho Villa
            1 Pier 15, San Francisco, CA

            Pancho Villa
            3071 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            2 Replies
            1. re: david kaplan

              It's been years since I've been to El Toro and Pancho Villa, but I did ask and their Spanish rice is vegetarian (or was when I asked). It's always safest to ask and to be clear: "Do you use chicken stock in your rice?" instead of: "Is your rice vegetarian?"

              Do they still have a tofu burrito?

              1. re: MollyGee

                I was there last a few months ago, and they still offered a tofu burrito.

            2. more than the rice, i think it's likely that many taquerias use lard and other pork products in preparing beans - especially refried beans. i'm sure its not a standard thing - but i've certainly tasted porky goodness in many a bean in a taqueria...

              1 Reply
              1. I would order a burrito without rice.