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Jul 14, 2012 11:03 AM

DC metro area - looking for CALIFORNIA BURRITO place

Moved to DC area (Alexandria/DC) from San Diego and I miss my delicious California Burrito from Santana's (sadly bought out by some "Fresh Mex" chain).

Carne asada, french fries, cheese, salsa fresca/pico de gallo/sour cream and of course guacamole. Add a squeeze of half-lime if you like.

I will gladly buy you one fresh California Burrito if you find me a place to buy it from around DC/Arlington/Alexandria/Old Town.

Ref: SFW

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  1. You'll have a hard time finding a good burrito in the DMV, let alone a California burrito (I haven't seen one outside of SD though, and I lived in LA and the Bay for 12 yrs).

    6 Replies
    1. re: mdpilam

      Hmmm, maybe I can make one. Just gotta find a place that has carne asada cooked and get some fries and pico de gallo/sour cream/guacamole.

      1. re: parjlarsson

        Fries in a burrito? Are they still smoking banana skins out there?

        Around here, what used to be, and maybe still is known as a "California burrito" was meat, lettuce and chopped tomato stuffed inside a tortilla and smothered with a mixture of melted cheese and salsa.

        Other than the French fries, you might find the carne adovada (pork) burrito at Anita's (a small chain) somewhat familiar. New Mexico isn't that far from southern California.

        1. re: MikeR

          Us Californians like our burritos portable and wrapped (preferably in foil). Burritos were originally made so that the food (stewed meats) could be easily transported (by donkeys - burros). We tend to stay away from the (wet) knife-and-fork burritos.

          1. re: mdpilam

            Your either going to have to make it yourself or fly home - just go back from LA yesterday and got my fix satisfied for Mexican food

            1. re: mdpilam

              I don't know about portable burritos wrapped in foil. Where I grew up, in Los Angeles, a burrito always (except for the vending machine ones) wet, covered in ranchero sauce and maybe some melted cheese.

        2. re: mdpilam

          Carnival market in Pontiac, MI has a great one....

          Also, buccharest grill puts fries in their shwarma in Detroit

        3. Does California Tortilla's "Burrito" come close? I don't see french fries anywhere on their menu.

          3 Replies
          1. re: GraydonCarter

            San Diego-style California burrito:
            * carne asada
            * french fries
            * sour cream
            * pico de gallo/salsa
            * guacamole

  , no.

            1. re: parjlarsson

              Gosh, I've been looking at houses in the San Diego area. If I have to get all that stuff on my burritos I think I'll stay here. ;)

            2. re: GraydonCarter

              No. They aren't particularly good or Callifornian.

            3. sorry. give up. sadly it's switch to Salvadoreno or make it at home. Burrito Brothers? disappointing. Chipotle? no comparison.

              most of the "Mexican" you'll find is of the Casa Gallardo/Chevy's variety even in a mom'n'pop place, look closely for the Salvadoran on the menu and wait until your next trip West (and it doesn't even have to be farther than the Mississippi)

              16 Replies
              1. re: hill food

                I totally disagree. I ate a very authentic Sope at a food truck in Montgomery County yesterday. If you go to Riverdale/Bladensburg, Maryland, you will find truly Mexican fare with liver tacos and nopales on the menu. You do have to be able to spot the Salvadoran places selling Mexican food. That is pretty easy. If they serve pupusas, they are Salvadoran.

                1. re: ChewFun

                  Do you have a name/location for this truck?

                  1. re: mdpilam

                    Probably one of the 3 or 4 trucks lined up at the MVA in Gaithersburg. I like El Chilango.

                    1. re: mdpilam

                      Unique Thrift parking lot (this was on a Sunday) at Randolph Road and Viers Mill Road. There were 4 trucks. Two were Mexican. One was Salvadoran/Honduran and the fourth I didn't go past. I just had a Sope, which was pretty good though I prefer them with beans and not just meat and cheese.

                      1. re: mdpilam

                        I agree that it is its own thing, but that doesn't make it less Mexican. Culturally, Los Angeles and Southern California are an extension of Mexican culture. Mexican food in Los Angeles can be truly Mexican. I think that if you went to El Tepeyac in Boyle Heights and had a Hollenbeck burrito they might laugh if you said it wasn't Mexican. Sure, the inspiration of that particular Burrito is local, based on the requests of local police officers. For me, a Californian burrito is large, covered in a sauce and cheese, perhaps containing potato as well as lettuce, meat and beans, as served at El Terasco. If I was from San Francisco, a Californian burrito to me might be wrapped in foil. Both are expressions of Mexican culture and therefore Mexican.

                        1. re: ChewFun

                          You can call it Tex-Mex, Cali-Mex, whatever, but if you can't find it in Mexico, it's not Mexican.

                          Just like Chop Suey, Chow Mein, Pepper Steak, etc. aren't Chinese food - they're American Chinese food.

                          1. re: DanielK

                            Politically, California may not be Mexico, but a lot of it sure is culturally Mexican. I also understand that a San Diego styLe California burrito is a relatively recent invention.

                          2. re: ChewFun

                            slathered and unwrapped sounds like Sonoran-ish Burros I've had in PHX. damn good too.

                            wish all cities in the US had a better idea of the regions, like how we starting to understand other regional variations.

                            and you do have a point, one does have to remember on the political/cultural front, California was part of Mexico for quite a long time.

                            1. re: hill food

                              Many people forget Mexico is a very large country with a rich culinary history that varies by region

                              1. re: agarnett100

                                Very true. I really wish there was a Oaxacan restaurant in the area (though there may be and I haven't noticed it yet). There are some in New Brunswick, New Jersey just outside of downtown.

                                1. re: ChewFun

                                  Theres Casa Oaxaca in Adams Morgan. Lots and lots of mole.

                                    1. re: Insidious Rex

                                      There's a scoutmob discount there right now. 50% off. I think you have to download the scoutmob app on your smartphone to access it.

                          3. re: ChewFun

                            I don't dispute that good Mexican can be found, but the OP is looking for a CA burrito which isn't really authentic Mexican in the first place. as you know it is it's own beast.

                            1. re: hill food

                              As is the other oft-mentioned request for Tex-Mex. I laugh everytime someone mentions that El Charritto isn't Mexican.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Their California burrito is decidedly not San Diego-style.

                          2. I'm pretty sure the owner of La Mexicana is from San Diego. Send him an email and he might be able to hook you up. Either way, one of the better carne asada burritos around, with or without frenchfries.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                              Also, try Tacos El Costalila. The food is as Mexican as it gets and the owner is willing to make things special for you if you ask and he has it.