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Very serious topic - Where are the REALLY good burritos

a
air621 May 13, 2008 06:06 PM

Many years ago, I was in San Francisco. My guides insisted on a burrito. I rarely say no to them. What I experienced was something so delicious from the size (forearm length) to the fresh ingredients (I've never had black beans like the ones I had in California) to the tomatillo salsa. I had at least one burrito for every one of the five days I was in SF.
Frankly, I prefer the ones I make at home to anything I've ever had in a Toronto restaurant. I've eaten them at:
Burrito Boyz
Quesada
El Sol
Burrito House
Tequila Sunrise
Tacos El Asador
other places that slip my mind right now.

The closest I've had was a place in Guelph that almost made burritos as good as SF burritos. I want to trek up to Rebozos up on Rogers, 'cause I"ve heard good things. Has anyone had anything close to a SF burrito?

  1. Ediblethoughts May 13, 2008 07:21 PM

    I personally like Burrito Boyz better than Rebozos.

    1. n
      neighborguy May 13, 2008 07:35 PM

      There are a couple of places in the Weston Rd/Hwy 7 intersection that look like frachises and the closest I've come to a SF taqueria type burrito here. I can find out the names and post here.

      Otherwise, I've been to Quesada and Burrito House. Never again. What a waste of time.

      15 Replies
      1. re: neighborguy
        a
        air621 May 14, 2008 08:15 AM

        Thanks for the replies. Hey neighbourguy, if you can dig up those names, I'd really appreciate it! I forgot to mention the one thing I hate about Toronto burritos, putting the burritos on the flattop or into a sandwich press. Drives me crazy! If there's one thing I hate, it's hot lettuce!

        1. re: air621
          dlw88 May 14, 2008 08:30 AM

          I recently made the trek to CHORIZO in Mississauga, on Southdowne. Their burritos are not reheated, and are trying their best to duplicate the CHIPOTLE burrito. Unfortunately, they didn't come close. Their "everything fresh" motto was quashed when they added canned jalepenos to my burrito, and the service was brutal. The choziro was very tasty but far too dry. At the end of the day, the overall experience is still better at Burrito Boys. Isn't Chipotle supposed to be opening up here in August?

          1. re: dlw88
            b
            bluedog May 14, 2008 03:00 PM

            I was just in Chicago, where i was given a tour of Mexican neighbourhoods and taquerias. Chipotle is considered an abomination by chowhounds down there.

            1. re: bluedog
              a
              air621 May 14, 2008 03:01 PM

              On that same trip to SF, Chicago was a stop that yielded amazing burritos

              1. re: bluedog
                dlw88 May 14, 2008 09:40 PM

                I agree with the Chicago hounds completely, and it's sad, but Chipotle will likely be the best thing going, if it ever gets here.

                1. re: bluedog
                  a
                  abigllama May 14, 2008 10:09 PM

                  Chipotle is a large chain. It's not the greatest but better than most other chains where you can grab a fresh burrito on the fly. It it's like the Quiznos of sub shops. A lot consider it tasty and given the choice you'd probably go there over Subway. But it would be silly to be included as part of a tour of great cheesesteak places in Philadelphia.

                  1. re: abigllama
                    b
                    bluedog May 15, 2008 06:25 AM

                    "Quiznos of sub sub shops"....shudder!

                    1. re: bluedog
                      Wahooty May 15, 2008 11:58 AM

                      Chipotle was, until fairly recently, owned by McDonald's. Given that context, it's surprisingly good - the sort of place that non-'hounds RAVE about while the 'hounds grumble about how much better it could be. And yes, we are supposed to be getting one soon. It's definitely not going to be the holy grail of burritos some on this board are hoping for, but...well...it's a step in the right direction. If we get things like Moe's and Chipotle moving in to ramp up demand, then maybe serious burrito shops will follow eventually.

                      1. re: Wahooty
                        b
                        bluedog May 15, 2008 04:14 PM

                        Fiar enough, but I don't think things will change until we got a critical mass of either mexicans or californians, or at least a community that has real experience with the cuisine.

                        I understand your argument, but another is that it's like saying if you want good hamburgers, hope that mcdonald's will move in so that the mom and pops will follow.

                        1. re: bluedog
                          Wahooty May 15, 2008 05:40 PM

                          I realize it's a bit of a bass-ackwards argument, but I actually know Torontonians that have never even eaten a burrito, let alone a decent one. I've heard it said more than once that the reason we don't have any good Mexican/TexMex/CalMex food here is because Canadians just don't like the real thing - so maybe baby steps are in order.
                          But yeah, until we get some Mexicans in this town, I'll keep getting my fixes in my own kitchen and on my semi-annual trips home.

                          1. re: Wahooty
                            b
                            bluedog May 16, 2008 06:24 AM

                            Yeah, I make burritos about once a week.

                            1. re: Wahooty
                              Davwud Feb 24, 2009 04:24 AM

                              We're getting more and more Mexicans all the time and more and more Mexican places are opening up. And people do nothing but pan them. I've been to a couple and thought they were great. I however have not really eaten Mexican in Mexico.

                              You can make the same argument about Southern BBQ. For that matter, my favourite Chicago style pizza place has had to cut back because it's just not catching on as they suspected. I was talking to a buddy who orders from the religiously and I was proposing the notion that Torontonians just don't like North American food. If it's from NA then convenience will do over taste. Anything from the other side of an ocean does very well if it's good.

                              DT

                              1. re: Davwud
                                b
                                basileater Feb 24, 2009 09:54 AM

                                Is this Chigago style pizza place in Toronto? If yes, please share the name. I would love to try a pizza made in that style.

                                1. re: basileater
                                  Davwud Feb 24, 2009 10:50 AM

                                  I can't.

                                  Check my profile and perhaps email me.

                                  DT

                2. re: air621
                  n
                  neighborguy Jul 15, 2008 07:25 PM

                  Taco Del Mar is north of hwy 7 across from the Walmart.
                  Mucho Burrito is south of hwy 7 across from the Collossus theatre.
                  Both are like Chiptotle but not as good.

              2. ostracario May 13, 2008 07:38 PM

                Big Fat Burrito in Kensington. No question!

                1. TorontoJo May 14, 2008 05:49 AM

                  Toronto doesn't really offer "Mission" style burritos, unfortunately. It's one of those categories that just isn't available here. Lots of great chow in this fair city, just not Mexican.

                  1. t
                    tp24 May 14, 2008 06:36 AM

                    Hmmmm..you sound like you know your burrrriiiiitoooos.

                    I'd like to recommend what I think is better than a Burrito Boyz burrito....it's called a New York Sub. It's not really a sub or a burrito...but it's very tasty. Try it and let me know what you think.

                    New York Sub is on Queen Street - west of Spadina.

                    -----
                    New York Subway
                    520 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: tp24
                      Manybears May 14, 2008 09:10 AM

                      Warning: if you don't like hot lettuce you better watch what you order at NY Sub!

                      1. re: tp24
                        z
                        zoohort2 May 14, 2008 05:59 PM

                        I have to second New York Subway!!!!!!!!! Although not an authentic Mexican burrito it is delicious and unique!!!!!!!!! Perfect fusion cooking!!!!!!!!

                        1. re: tp24
                          Bobby Wham May 15, 2008 09:44 AM

                          NEW YORK SUB KILLS ALL BURRITOS

                          1. re: Bobby Wham
                            Kagemusha May 15, 2008 10:01 AM

                            You need to get friendly with the real deal. Whatever that glop NY Subs sells is, it shares no DNA with any burrito I've ever seen.

                        2. a
                          abigllama May 14, 2008 09:07 AM

                          I lived in the Bay area about 5 years ago for work and know and crave what you're talking about. As of yet there's nothing I've come across that quite hits the mark for a bay area burrito. But there's a few things to fill the void. Burrito Boys was good when they started but it's really gone down hill. The attitude from staff doesn't make me run out to grab a burrito that was much better a couple years ago.

                          My personal fave in the city is at Johny Banana at Queen and Bathurst. The chiorzo and potato burrito is excellent. The steak burrito is similar to the SF style but the meat has a different seasoning. The place is either South or Central American so that would explain the different seasoning.

                          When I get a Chipotle craving, Moe's Southwest Grill fills the void for me. It's kind of a dumbed down Chipotle but in the second wave of burrito fillings(you'll know what I mean if you go) one is able to spice them up as needed. The salsa bar helps out too. The employees have to yell "welcome to Moe's!" everytime someone walks in the door which gets a bit disturbing after awhile. I've been to the Yonge/Eglington location several times and always left happy. Chicken Homewrecker burrito is tops for me there.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: abigllama
                            p
                            Pizza Lover May 14, 2008 11:41 AM

                            I second Johny Banana. The place is super clean, the owner is hands on and she clearly cares about the quality of the product that goes out. It beats Burrito boyz and Big Fat Burrito hands down.

                            I've had the chicken mole buritto which was very good - and holy smokes their spicey is certainly that (and I love spicey). Also tried their Mexican hot chocolate and Argentine cookies which were good.

                            1. re: abigllama
                              Davwud Feb 24, 2009 04:26 AM

                              I really like Moe's too. I'm not gonna sit here and purport that this is the greatest thing in the world. I'm just saying that when I go there, I get a good burrito and leave happy. Call it above average fast food.

                              DT

                            2. f
                              foodie179 May 14, 2008 02:47 PM

                              El Sombrero is a family owned spot in Mississauga around Britania and Hwy10 and their burritos are awesome. Not to mention the rest of the menu. Its definitely closer than Guelph.

                              1. Kagemusha May 14, 2008 03:44 PM

                                No. Not even close. Poseur Mexican joints around the GTA occasionally rise to mediocre--at best. Burritos are just not up to scratch--yet. The old Sombrero on Hurontario seems to suffer from the same curse on the restos in that strip mall--the dismal Nirvana and the under-staffed, struggling Kumai sushi. It's not an ingredient issue as much as a lack prep skills and flavor benchmarks. Some day, some way, this will change for the better.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Kagemusha
                                  16crab May 15, 2008 09:20 AM

                                  Air621 - what was the place in Guelph?

                                  1. re: 16crab
                                    a
                                    air621 May 15, 2008 09:24 AM

                                    I looked into it, and it WAS called Gringo's. It closed down sometime around new year, it seems. I was there probably a year ago. Too bad.

                                2. Calipoutine May 15, 2008 01:01 PM

                                  *sigh*, Great burritos is one of the things I miss most about living in Cali. I crave fabulous mission style burritos, but have yet to find one here in Ontario. I was somewhat excited when Taco Del Mar opened in London, but it sucks too. They also make you pay for sour cream!!!

                                  1. duckdown May 15, 2008 02:50 PM

                                    I definitely think El Sombrero in Mississauga is the best that I have had around the GTA

                                    Certainly better than Burrito Boys

                                    1. s
                                      smr714 May 15, 2008 05:24 PM

                                      There is a new one in Burlington I want to try, It is called Mucho Burrito and it is located at UpperMiddle and Appleby, anyone try that one yet?

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: smr714
                                        duckdown May 15, 2008 07:49 PM

                                        Mucho Burrito is in Brampton already, just your average burrito chain

                                        Bagged tortillas, bagged nachos, pretty basic

                                        Much better than a taco bell of course but not nearly as good as El Sombrero or BurritoBots

                                        1. re: duckdown
                                          pancake May 15, 2008 08:40 PM

                                          Well, i'd suggest heading to kensington market. There are 4 places within walking distance that offer mexican food/burritos - el trumpo, the new mexican place that just opened where by the way cafe was, johnny banana and big fat burrito. Hopefully one of the four will satisfy your craving. I had the fajitas at el trumpo and i'd say they were closer to what I imagine to be authentic mexican - red peppers, sliced beef, bacon, and cheese served with corn tortillas. Tasty, not heavy and over-greasy. If they have burritos on their menu they might be the sort you are looking for.
                                          I enjoy big fat burrito, although I cannot comment on the authenticity factor. I like there veggie option best.I have yet to try the other two places.

                                          1. re: pancake
                                            duckdown May 15, 2008 08:59 PM

                                            Sounds nice -- I don't get down to kensington at all though :(

                                            If I ever am in that area though I will check them out, thanks for the info :)

                                            1. re: pancake
                                              Ediblethoughts May 16, 2008 03:56 PM

                                              Are any of these places reasonably OK for sit in (or is it better to just assume you're taking it away with you)?

                                              1. re: pancake
                                                Dimbulb May 17, 2008 05:39 AM

                                                Isn't By The Way on Bloor?

                                                1. re: Dimbulb
                                                  pancake May 17, 2008 08:04 AM

                                                  Yes Dimbulb, my mistake, it was not called By the way cafe, it was named something else. What i'm refering to is the small restaurant that sits just east of the Toronto Western Hospital Emergency Department. It is now called La Tortillaria.
                                                  All the places I mentioned have sit-down.

                                                2. re: pancake
                                                  a
                                                  andrea0guernz Feb 24, 2009 01:13 PM

                                                  I second "pancake's" posting.. Big Fat Burrito is delicious - again, not sure about how authentic it is .. but I could defiantly consider myself (as well as at least 10 other people i know) addicted to the 'Steak & Yam" burritos there.

                                                  I have also heard amazing reccomendations for Johnny Banana - supposedly more authentic.

                                                  Burrito boyz is really not my thing.

                                            2. Ediblethoughts May 18, 2008 03:35 PM

                                              I tried Big Fat Burrito today, the yam one (done spicy) and while I enjoyed it, I prefer Burrito Boyz: Burrito Boyz' ingredients seem to flow more satisfyingly than BFB (the chunks of the pickled jalapenos in BFB interrupted the "flow" of the burrito and while I love yams, I found the burrito a bit sweeter than I want in my first course foods); also the kick to the BB burrito is much more impressive than the BFB--just a little kick there. And my companion who had the pulled pork burrito done medium didn't notice any kick at all. She also found her burrito a bit dry (too much pork; not enough other stuff).

                                              Still we enjoyed our food and if I'm in Kensington Market, I'd go back.

                                              1. c
                                                cheezy1 Jun 27, 2008 01:29 PM

                                                Just tried El Sombrero in Mississauga for the first time today and have to say it was way better than Burrito Boys. I worked around King and John for a few years and BB quality has really started to decline as their prices increased. The last burrito I bought from BB I actually threw out.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: cheezy1
                                                  Food Tourist Jul 18, 2008 07:12 PM

                                                  I had a chicken burrito at El Sombrero today ($7.99) - large flour tortilla, rice, seasoned chicken plus choice of toppings (sour cream, cheese, jalapenos, salsa, guacamole) and they grill the tortilla first before adding fillings, so no use of sandwich press on final product...On the bright side, the guac is house-made and very fresh (the friendly lady made up a batch of tomato-free guac right on the spot for my tomato-averse friend). I was famished so I admit I devoured the burrito - it was definitely very edible but it wasn't perfect - maybe I'm just not a fan of highly seasoned chicken or of this kind of burrito in general. Another strong point is the patio - rare in take-out fast-food style restaurants.

                                                  1. re: cheezy1
                                                    duckdown Jul 20, 2008 02:29 PM

                                                    I like El Sombrero way better than Burrito Boyz or Moe's or anything like that, so yeah, it's definitely my pick also

                                                  2. w
                                                    wordsworth Jul 20, 2008 12:52 PM

                                                    Your experiences are a good reflection of the situation. I hate to tell you but the burritos you got in SF (used to live there myself) hardly notable, either. The worst hole in the wall taco stand I've ever been to in the southwest has better burritos than the best you can get in Toronto.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: wordsworth
                                                      Marimba Jul 20, 2008 02:52 PM

                                                      Where have you been locally?...Marimba!

                                                      1. re: wordsworth
                                                        n
                                                        neighborguy Jul 20, 2008 04:17 PM

                                                        I don't understand why it's so difficult to replicate a mission-style burrito here. When I was at Mucho Burrito last week they seemed so skimpy with their portioning of the limited ingredients and the meat had a harsh, tex-mex character to it.

                                                        I've given up on finding anything remotely close to the SF taqueria experience here, aside from making my own at home, which I have and it was dead simple but very tasty.

                                                      2. scarberian Jul 20, 2008 03:35 PM

                                                        Well I just got back from San Diego, now that's a place with serious burritos. My aunt lives a block from a fast food Tex-Mex hole in the wall called "Victoria's" and they serve some massive tasty as hell burritos. Their main specialty was the carne assada burrito which is a beef filled burrito with home made guacamole, onions, green peppers and cilantro. I also tried the carne asada fries which is the best damn poutine I've ever had. The beef is NOT ground, but steak that's been sliced into small pieces. (BTW order the California burrito and it's the carne asada fries wrapped in a tortilla with cheese).

                                                        I don't know what the problem is up here in Toronto, but can anyone here make or even import a decent tortilla? The tortillas they use in San Diego for the burritos are soft and don't have that rubbery texture like the ones up here.

                                                        Anyone know of any Mexican restaurants in Scarborough? Man I'm dying for a carne asada!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: scarberian
                                                          aser Jul 22, 2008 03:12 PM

                                                          well you got la torilleira in kensington w/ their tortilla making machine. They make the standard sized tortillas for tacos, but I'm sure you can ask them to custom make larger ones for burrito. 1/2 kg of tortillas is $1.75, 1 kg is $3.

                                                          I assume everybody is looking for the tex mex version since lettuce, salsa, guac, cheese, sour cream are nowhere to be found in a true mexican burrito. I agree w/ wordsworth, the burritos in mission weren't anything special. LA and SD fare much better.

                                                          I must say w/ the taco ladies at the back of perola's and rebozos on rogers rd, mexican food is doing a lot better in Toronto than 3 yrs ago.

                                                        2. m
                                                          msprnt Jul 23, 2008 09:26 AM

                                                          thought to mention mex-i-can in hamilton .... on james st. just north of king .... they make EVERYTHING fresh (except their canned cactus)... and the owners/cooks are mexican and el salvadorian ..... they have food from both cultures.... which are similar, but all the dishes i've tried are very good ...

                                                          with regards to burritos, i've tried their "super burrito" ... which is quite large (a bit shorter than forearm length, maybe 2/3) .... with the pork (smokey flavour, forget the name.....) and a host of other ingredients.....and it was awesome!... i haven't had toronto burritos in a long time, but i've been to el sombrero and it was pretty good.. this definitely compares....

                                                          nonetheless, i'd definitely like to try burritos from california and see what all the fuss is about.... they definitely sound great!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: msprnt
                                                            ostracario Feb 23, 2009 10:21 AM

                                                            Big Fat Burrito in Kensington!!

                                                          2. c
                                                            cakelover36 Feb 23, 2009 01:22 PM

                                                            Since it does not seem like there are any good burrito places in the City, perhaps you can advise how to make the authentic SF type at home?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: cakelover36
                                                              Davwud Feb 24, 2009 04:29 AM

                                                              That's a good point. I keep hearing about these "Mission style burritos" but I've never had one so if we did get a place, I wouldn't know if it was good or not. Other than if I enjoyed it of course.

                                                              DT

                                                            2. Finnegan Feb 24, 2009 10:16 AM

                                                              Big Fat Burrito on Augusta Ave in Kensington Market...by far the best in Toronto and surrounding areas. Pulled pork burritos are my fav.

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