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San Diego style burritos in the (East) Bay?

bsdfish May 27, 2008 07:51 PM

After spending four years in San Diego and getting addicted to the wonderful (and 24-hour) burrito and taco joints that pepper the city, I have moved up to El Cerrito. I have been completely unable to find a San-Diego style burrito anywhere closer than (of all places) Tahoe.

If you are not familiar with it, the SD burrito tends to
- Be fried a little after being made; the tortilla isn't steamed
- Never, ever be wrapped in foil
- Contain no beans, rice, or other 'filler'
- Be fairly large but not stuffed absurdly full

Several types that I am particularly enamored with, and am looking for are the Carne Asada burrito (Carne Asada, cheese, pica de gallo, sometimes guac, nothign else) and th California burrito (Carne Asada, French or home fries, pica de gallo).

Do any chowhounds have recommendations for a serviceable, SD-style burrito? Somewhere around Bekeley/El Cerrito would be best, but I'm willing to travel significantly further for my fix.

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  1. k
    kc72 RE: bsdfish May 27, 2008 08:02 PM

    california burrito thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477746

    Close to El Cerrito, head to La Bamba on San Pablo Ave. just north of Barrett Ave. I usually get their carnitas burrito. If you're in the mood for something w/o rice or beans -- get one of their quesadillas -- just tortilla, meat, cheese, guac and sour cream on the side -- it's pretty big.

    Plenty of places in Richmond. Hacienda makes a pretty good, big burrito

    5 Replies
    1. re: kc72
      bsdfish RE: kc72 May 28, 2008 10:59 AM


      I have tried La Bamba, which is quite tasty in its own right but the food served there is nothing like a SD burrito. Perhaps the quesadilla . . . I'll investigate.

      I just don't understand why there isn't a SD style taquaria in the bay area, despite the fact that every SoCal person I talk to laments the mission burritos . , ,

      1. re: bsdfish
        ATaleOfFiction RE: bsdfish May 28, 2008 10:49 PM

        There's still nothing around that quite matches the San Diego experience. Believe me. Every trip I take home, I cram my stomach because I miss it so. And, you know, the tortillas are never the same.

        1. re: ATaleOfFiction
          rworange RE: ATaleOfFiction May 29, 2008 03:37 PM

          The closest I have found to San Diego Mexican is El Tapatia on 23rd St in San Pablo. I haven't tried the burrito though since they aren't my thing. Lovely ... lovely chivo. For best bang for the buck, if you speak Spanish it helps.

          El Tapatio
          910 23rd St, Richmond, CA 94804

          1. re: rworange
            Melanie Wong RE: rworange Dec 16, 2009 05:48 PM

            Just learned that Richmond's El Tapatio is owned by the same family that's behind Aranda's Tortillas. They're getting back to me on retail placements after they hear from their distributors.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              rworange RE: Melanie Wong Dec 16, 2009 06:38 PM

              Interesting. Looking forward to hearing more.

    2. nicedragonboy RE: bsdfish May 28, 2008 11:23 AM

      not sure, maybe give Acapulco in Alameda a try. if I remember correctly, their burritos didn't have much filler.

      1. a
        adrienne156 RE: bsdfish May 29, 2008 10:23 AM

        Okay, please no one flog me for this one... But, what about Gordo's on Solano Ave? I am not really a fan, but it's one of those steam-table places where you can pick your burrito makings which are decent enough and they have a giant griddle behind the counter. I've never seen them fry up a burrito, but I bet they would if you asked.

        2 Replies
        1. re: adrienne156
          Chuckles the Clone RE: adrienne156 May 29, 2008 07:02 PM

          When I first came out here I noticed there were two kinds of burrito places:
          the kind where boys made the burritos and girls cleaned the tables and the
          kind where girls made the burritos and boys cleaned the tables. These
          correlated pretty closely with steamed tortilla (girls making) and griddled
          tortilla (boys making). Since Gordo is a boys making place, it might be
          worth a shot.

          [Parenthetically, is there a deeper ethnographical phenomenon at work
          in this division of labor thing?]

          1. re: Chuckles the Clone
            adrienne156 RE: Chuckles the Clone May 30, 2008 10:40 AM

            Chuckles, your reasoning always makes me laugh out loud - love it.

            I double majored in sociology and poli sci with an emphasis on policy making at Davis during the whole border hoopla and in a nut shell, there is a deeper ethnological phenomenon at work, but it has more to do with immigration into the States and the kind of work available that effects who we see working in restaurants than traditional gender roles and social norms. I could go into a lot more depth, but I don't think the Hounds wanna hear me on my soap box. :o)

            BUT, bsdfish, I was walking by Gordo's yesterday, popped my head in to ask if they'd griddle a burrito and they looked at me a little funny, but said they would.

        2. Robert Lauriston RE: bsdfish May 29, 2008 10:29 AM

          How does this differ from a chimichanga?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            pastryqueen RE: Robert Lauriston May 29, 2008 04:35 PM

            the burritos are not deep fried like a chimichanga - more like griddle fried. . a little oil on a flat top and all sides are toasted.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Eat_Nopal RE: Robert Lauriston May 29, 2008 04:37 PM

              I think the OP mispoke... they tend to griddle the Burrito with a little oil after assembling it.

            2. pastryqueen RE: bsdfish May 29, 2008 04:34 PM

              Adalberto's in Fairfield seems to be the closest. . or a lot of my friends from San Diego think so. .. carne asada burritos, carne asada fries. . .etc. rolled tacos. It's pretty good. .. not mind blowing but close enough to satisfy the most home sick san diegan.

              12 Replies
              1. re: pastryqueen
                Eat_Nopal RE: pastryqueen May 29, 2008 04:38 PM

                Even the name seems to be inspired by the 'bertos empire.

                1. re: pastryqueen
                  ATaleOfFiction RE: pastryqueen May 29, 2008 10:11 PM

                  I've been and, while close, not really there. Supposedly, there's a branch out in San Diego somewhere.

                  1. re: ATaleOfFiction
                    Eat_Nopal RE: ATaleOfFiction May 30, 2008 08:31 AM

                    There is actually several of them there...

                  2. re: pastryqueen
                    fame da lupo RE: pastryqueen May 30, 2008 08:31 AM

                    Adalberto's has locations in San Diego but I wouldn't call it a San Diego burrito. I also wouldn't call it a good burrito, but one that'll do in a pinch.

                    1. re: fame da lupo
                      Eat_Nopal RE: fame da lupo May 30, 2008 09:02 AM

                      But to be clear its a San Diego chain that has expanded to the Bay Area... and not all Burritos in San Diego fall into the criteria discussed here... in fact I wonder if most do. The one time I was suckered in to Roberto's (the original of the 'bertos?) I remember an undistinguished Carnitas, Rice, Beans type of burrito not unlike anywhere else in California.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal
                        fame da lupo RE: Eat_Nopal May 30, 2008 09:46 AM

                        Didn't know that, I knew them first from Sacramento. The burritos I ate while living in San Diego didn't seem to have much rhyme or reason to them - I ate many burritos at El Cotixan that if I recall correctly had plenty of rice and beans in them.

                        1. re: fame da lupo
                          bsdfish RE: fame da lupo May 31, 2008 01:30 PM

                          Really? I ate a *lot* of burritos at the El Cotixian on Genesee, (though only the carne/pollo asado or the california), and I haven't seen any rice and beans there.

                          Around Berkeley, I recently investigated Picante and it turned out to be nothing like SD style, but still pretty tasty; they certainly got the green sauce right.

                          1. re: bsdfish
                            fame da lupo RE: bsdfish May 31, 2008 01:48 PM

                            Hah! I at first thought my memory had failed me, and then I realized that it indeed had, but in a different way than I thought: for my entire 3 years in San Diego I was a vegetarian, which would explain the beans and rice in the burrito. I totally forgot about this when I made that post.

                            1. re: fame da lupo
                              wolfe RE: fame da lupo May 31, 2008 01:56 PM

                              Aha, a not uncommon disorder known as herbivoric amnesia.

                              1. re: fame da lupo
                                rworange RE: fame da lupo May 31, 2008 06:58 PM

                                For years I ranted that no one made tortas like I had in Mexico city ... grilled with NO lettuce. Then I remember I was working and paranoid about getting sick from improperly washed lettuce and always ordered them "sin lechuga" ... so much for authenticity.

                          2. re: Eat_Nopal
                            rworange RE: Eat_Nopal May 30, 2008 10:22 AM

                            Yeah ... I gotta go with it wasn't the norm when I lived in the area ... this is the first time I heard of a griddled burrito as described. Not that I ate a whole lot of burritos, but what I saw served and described on menus were not different from Bay Area burritos. What struck me is there were potatoes in the burritos more than I've seen in this area. Actually the potato burritos were the only ones I tried because I never saw them up here. Those weren't griddled either ... and were wrapped in aluminum foil.

                            1. re: rworange
                              Eat_Nopal RE: rworange May 30, 2008 10:37 AM

                              I have never lived in San Diego so I don't have the depth or breadth of experience to be definitive... but my impression is that there has been a relatively recent migration of restaurant concepts from Baja to San Diego (Tacos el Gordo, Mariscos German etc.,) many of which have Sinaloenses pulling the string... which might explain a more recent offering of Sinaloa style burritos (with potatoes, all meat, without beans & rice, quick griddling etc.,)

                              So perhaps the OP should be asking for Sinaloa style burritos to be a bit more precise.

                      2. k
                        kc72 RE: bsdfish May 30, 2008 08:55 AM

                        not sure why the other post went missing, but on yelp, taqueria las vegas in fremont & milpitas supposedly has carne asada fries and burrito

                        1. a
                          Agent 510 RE: bsdfish May 31, 2008 10:54 PM

                          I wish SD-style burritos weren't so hard to find up here. They're delicious, but I guess the whole Bay Area disagrees and thinks mushy steamed tortillas and tasteless rice/bean filler is the way to go.

                          Cancun Taqueria in downtown Berkeley is one place whose carne asada quesadilla is pretty similar to the SD carne asada burrito.

                          1. c
                            calny RE: bsdfish Dec 17, 2009 12:15 PM

                            I can't say much about the filling, because I haven't had one in years, but Mario's La Fiesta in Berkeley has griddled burritos. It's on Haste just above Telegraph.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: calny
                              ML8000 RE: calny Dec 17, 2009 12:41 PM

                              Mario's La Fiesta moved, approximately kiddie corner and a few doors down. They lost their lease. However the new place is/was actually a private banquet hall owned by Mario's, with the family living in the other separate side. The food is the same, similar decor.

                              1. re: ML8000
                                sydthekyd RE: ML8000 Dec 17, 2009 04:16 PM

                                Plus my son told me they now have a patio.

                                1. re: sydthekyd
                                  ML8000 RE: sydthekyd Dec 17, 2009 05:13 PM

                                  Yes I saw the patio but it was night and cold out so didn't get a real look. It's a nice Spanish style building, wrought iron, etc. I'll have to go on a nice, warm day. Mario's holds a special place in my stomach.

                                  1. re: ML8000
                                    sydthekyd RE: ML8000 Dec 18, 2009 01:46 PM

                                    Chicken flautas and green enchiladas - likewise!

                            2. mtirado RE: bsdfish Dec 17, 2009 12:42 PM

                              La costa taqueria in Hayward on Harder street off Mission have griddled burritos and I am sure would put not rice and beans if asked, they are delicious!

                              1. k
                                KITTYCAT411 RE: bsdfish Jun 11, 2010 04:16 AM

                                taqueria sol azteca at 1790 whipple rd union city makr some great cali burrito & carnr asada fries!

                                1. r
                                  royschu1 RE: bsdfish May 3, 2014 03:23 PM

                                  I have lived in San Diego for 37 years and love the Mexican Food. Now I live in San Ramon and can not find anything close to the food I love and crave. It just does happen here in the bay area. I have traveled 50 miles in all direction to find it. Its not here. They dont get it.

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