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DC metro area - looking for CALIFORNIA BURRITO place

parjlarsson Jul 14, 2012 11:03 AM

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrito#... SFW

  1. m
    mdpilam Jul 14, 2012 02:57 PM

    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
      parjlarsson Jul 14, 2012 08:45 PM

      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
        MikeR Jul 15, 2012 05:23 AM

        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
          mdpilam Jul 15, 2012 08:56 AM

          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 Burritos were originally made so that the food (stewed meats) could be easily transported (by donkeys - burros).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
            agarnett100 Jul 15, 2012 04:43 PM

            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
              ChewFun Jul 16, 2012 07:37 AM

              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
          christyar Jul 16, 2012 05:01 PM

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

          Also, buccharest grill puts fries in their shwarma in Detroit

        3. GraydonCarter Jul 15, 2012 09:41 PM

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

          3 Replies
          1. re: GraydonCarter
            parjlarsson Jul 16, 2012 05:43 AM

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

            ...so, no.

            1. re: parjlarsson
              MikeR Jul 16, 2012 05:49 PM

              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
              ChewFun Jul 16, 2012 10:27 AM

              No. They aren't particularly good or Callifornian.

            3. hill food Jul 15, 2012 09:57 PM

              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
                ChewFun Jul 16, 2012 10:29 AM

                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
                  mdpilam Jul 16, 2012 01:21 PM

                  Do you have a name/location for this truck?

                  1. re: mdpilam
                    GraydonCarter Jul 16, 2012 04:44 PM

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

                    1. re: mdpilam
                      ChewFun Jul 17, 2012 08:10 AM

                      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
                        ChewFun Jul 17, 2012 08:16 AM

                        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
                          DanielK Jul 17, 2012 01:56 PM

                          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
                            ChewFun Jul 17, 2012 06:37 PM

                            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
                            hill food Jul 19, 2012 12:00 AM

                            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
                              agarnett100 Jul 19, 2012 06:29 AM

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

                              1. re: agarnett100
                                ChewFun Jul 19, 2012 09:51 AM

                                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
                                  Insidious Rex Jul 19, 2012 10:44 AM

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

                                  1. re: Insidious Rex
                                    GraydonCarter Jul 19, 2012 11:39 AM

                                    Y chapulines?

                                    1. re: GraydonCarter
                                      mdpilam Jul 19, 2012 01:27 PM


                                    2. re: Insidious Rex
                                      hamster Jul 20, 2012 04:32 PM

                                      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
                            hill food Jul 16, 2012 09:15 PM

                            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
                              Dennis S Jul 17, 2012 05:11 AM

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

                        2. ipsedixit Jul 15, 2012 10:07 PM

                          Cantina Mexicana.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            parjlarsson Jul 16, 2012 05:45 AM

                            Their California burrito is decidedly not San Diego-style.

                          2. monkeyrotica Jul 16, 2012 07:20 AM

                            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
                              ChewFun Jul 16, 2012 07:44 AM

                              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.

                            2. c
                              ChewFun Jul 16, 2012 07:42 AM

                              There is great Mexican food to be had here. Since you are in Alexandria I recommend you go to El Charrito Caminante in Arlingon. They do not serve wet burritos and they really don't wrap them, just fold them over, but they are very good. Another option is to drive down Route 1. Somewhat far down, you will find a Mexican community and Mexican restaurants authentic enough to have buche on the menu. They won't have Machaca and it won't be exactly like in California, but it will be good. It also won't have potato in it, like I'd sometimes find in LA.

                              1. m
                                MikeR Jul 20, 2012 12:26 PM

                                Probably like looking for Texas BBQ or New Haven pizza. It's just not the same anywhere else as you think you remember it.

                                1. r
                                  ricardoDC Aug 1, 2012 10:34 AM

                                  Just starting the plans for a SD style taco food truck. We will serve in Arlington and DC. Believe me, i moved here and know EXACTLY what you feel. There is NOTHING here that comes close.. Because of the huge Peruvian and El Salvadorean population, mexican food is not as good as areas out west. California burrito (and Carne asada fries!) WILL be on the menu!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ricardoDC
                                    tommyskitchen Aug 1, 2012 11:53 AM

                                    Sounds delicious, good luck! Lots of trucks folding lately, keep your eyes out for used ones on the market....

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