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Good mission style burrito in the East Bay?

hungree May 7, 2013 09:07 AM

Anything worthwhile or do you pretty much have to hop on BART to get your fix?

  1. s
    shanghaikid May 7, 2013 11:08 PM

    taqueria sinaloa's (22nd & international) salsa has chioptle peppers in their sauce. only one i've noticed in oaktown that does it. go for the beef (asada)

    taco grill (3340 E.14th st) uses niman ranch meats. their burritos has an unique flavor. the meat is gristle free.

    1. g
      gordon wing May 7, 2013 09:24 PM

      Taqueria San Jose in Fruitvale has good al pastor ...... have seen some big burritos .... I usually order other items though. used to have free chips and salsa bar ..... self serve.

      9 Replies
      1. re: gordon wing
        Robert Lauriston May 8, 2013 08:46 AM

        I thought the Oakland Taqueria SJ was a big step down from the Mission St. mothership. Al pastor was not carved to order, they just heated it up on the griddle. Salsa bar was good.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          drewskiSF May 8, 2013 10:06 PM

          Are they closely related? Oakland Website shared with San Rafael location. SF has their own.



          1. re: drewskiSF
            Robert Lauriston May 9, 2013 06:59 AM

            I thought they were but maybe not.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston
            gordon wing May 8, 2013 10:54 PM

            I remember a lot of nice crispy bits with the al pastor .... from "just heating on the griddle" .......

            1. re: gordon wing
              Robert Lauriston May 9, 2013 07:00 AM

              To me that's fajitas and not al pastor. Could be good but it's not the same thing.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                gordon wing May 9, 2013 07:07 AM

                I just think it tastes good ..... whatever it may be called.

                1. re: gordon wing
                  ML8000 May 9, 2013 09:25 AM

                  +1 La Bamba griddles their carnitas and frankly it's like pork crack. I've eaten the al pastor at Cancun in SF for years and it's good.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Pius Avocado III May 9, 2013 08:25 AM

                  Fajitas are skirt steak with peppers and onions. Al pastor is pork.

                  1. re: Pius Avocado III
                    Robert Lauriston May 9, 2013 05:04 PM

                    Once upon a time "fajita" was Tejano for skirt steak (the cut, not a particular dish) but that was before it became known outside of Tejas and evolved into a catchall term for whatever grilled or griddled with peppers and onions.

          3. m
            ML8000 May 7, 2013 01:51 PM

            La Mission on University does a decent Mission burrito. They use quality ingredients but yes it's a bit Californicated. I suspect their more traditional items are better. Only been twice.

            Cancun Taqueria in downtown Berkeley does a good job as well for burritos, rice is optional. Good salsa bar. I usually get pollo asada or carnitas (okay but not like La Bamba). Also use quality ingredients, also a bit Californicated. This might be the most BART friendly.

            I've had a few burritos in the Fruitvale but never remember them. Usually stop for tacos.

            BTW, there's a La Bamba in Richmond/El Cerrito that's related to the Mountain View branch...carnitas isn't as good but still pretty good.

            13 Replies
            1. re: ML8000
              Ruth Lafler May 7, 2013 01:56 PM

              A Mission burrito is by definition "Californicated."

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                ML8000 May 7, 2013 03:19 PM

                Yes and no. Get a Mission burrito from Cancun in SF with chorizo and it's definitely not Californicated. I'd say the same about the al pastor because it's sufficiently spiced with lots of red dried pepper in the al pastor. The meat in both cases are rustic and not of particular quality. Order picante salsa with those meats and non-Californicated.

                Also some places don't serve refried beans. I like refried beans but to me that's also a sign of Californicated but not pinto.

                1. re: ML8000
                  vulber May 7, 2013 04:07 PM

                  the meat may not be californicated, but stuffing it to the gills with rice is.

                  1. re: vulber
                    ML8000 May 7, 2013 04:25 PM

                    Whatever. To me it's about the overall taste, texture and spicing. If there's enough heat, texture and flavor, I'm fine.

                    To me a gringo burrito is bland, sour cream, cheese, black beans, mild or no salsa. Rice will do this as well if you stuff it full of dairy and don't put salsa on it.

                    If you want to get into the authentic argument, knock yourself out because NOTHING in California is authentic and frankly who cares.

                    1. re: ML8000
                      Robert Lauriston May 7, 2013 04:36 PM

                      The Mission burrito is a local twist on a dish from Sonora, and the originals, made on September 26, 1961, were made to appeal not to Mexican immigrants but to SF firemen.

                      1. re: ML8000
                        Ruth Lafler May 9, 2013 04:28 AM

                        The point is, the "Mission burrito" was developed in San Francisco. There places that serve burritos that I would not categorize as a Mission burrito because they aren't overstuffed behemoths. So clarify: do you want a good burrito, or a good "Mission burrito"!

                2. re: ML8000
                  Robert Lauriston May 7, 2013 01:58 PM

                  The Berkeley Cancun has its own farm, shared with Tlaloc. No connection with any of the SF Cancuns.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    hungree May 7, 2013 05:10 PM

                    I really like their plates and you gotta give it up for the salsa bar. It narrowly edges out Cactus. I can't bring myself to get a burrito there, though, since the plate is so good. The farm-fresh veggies are awesome.

                  2. re: ML8000
                    vulber May 7, 2013 03:16 PM

                    the mole offerings at la mission are far better

                    1. re: ML8000
                      hungree May 7, 2013 05:07 PM

                      Whoa, there's a La Bamba in El Cerrito?! This thread has really delivered.

                      1. re: hungree
                        lmnopm May 7, 2013 05:20 PM

                        My gold standard is the esteak burrito from La Cumbre, circa mid-1980s, and frankly, nothing else has ever been like that. I've generally shifted to plates or tortas, as several places have a great meat or two, but the entire burrito package isn't too exciting, i.e., the carnitas at La Mission go into a torta, the various meats at La Palmita go into a homey plate. The taco truck that used to be at the gas station across the street from Raley's in El Sobrante made a decent burrito (with a nice tortilla that would soak up the grease from the meat and turn orange), but I haven't been in ages. I recently had a Portumex burrito al pastor (another place from my ever-increasingly-distant past) about a month ago and left with a "meh." Cactus (Solano) fell off my radar several years ago after things were getting more "meh" with every visit.

                        1. re: lmnopm
                          Mission May 7, 2013 07:55 PM

                          I sure wish "Gauchos" was still in the spot that the boring Christopher's burgers on College Ave. is now taking up space in.

                          Gauchos rocked!

                          Super fresh, just grilled meats done expertly by Xavier the chef from Iran that used to cook for the expelled Shah of Iran.
                          And served by his petite sexy ballerina wife.

                          (That was the the local story anyway)

                          He invented the gourmet salsa bar back in the 80's

                          360 Burrito took his concept and turned it into a Milquetoast corporate offering.

                          He crashed and burned when he opened a bigger restaurant further up College Ave.

                          Anyone else remember the Gaucho days?

                        2. re: hungree
                          Melanie Wong May 7, 2013 05:42 PM

                          Here's the info on La Bamba in Richmond (not El Cerrito),



                      2. e
                        ernie in berkeley May 7, 2013 12:43 PM

                        Does Berkeley count? Excellent carnitas burritos at La Mission Taqueria (University Ave) and Talavera (Solano). Decent, low-priced carne asada, chili verde and pollo asado at La Palmita (San Pablo at Gilman). More good carnitas at Sol y Luna (Shattuck near University); they have excellent homemade chips and salsa as well. Good meats at Gallegos (San Pablo), but I haven't tried the burritos.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ernie in berkeley
                          Glencora May 7, 2013 01:32 PM

                          I've tried the burritos at La Palmita and at Gallegos and haven't been back to either place. Can't remember why, just not impressed. Gordo's had good carnitas for a while and then seemed to go downhill. If anyone's been lately (within the last year or so) I'd like to hear about it.

                          1. re: Glencora
                            vulber May 7, 2013 03:16 PM

                            totally forgot about gordo's - excellent choice. the only thing they do differnetly is that they steam the cheese on to the burrito (which i happen to love), but it's very polarizing

                        2. m
                          Mr_Happy May 7, 2013 10:05 AM

                          El Farolito on International Blvd. Pretty much the same burritos as the ones in the El Farolito in the mission.

                          1. p
                            Pius Avocado III May 7, 2013 10:05 AM

                            Do you find something wrong with Farolito? That's where I go on the rare occasions I want one of these. I used to alternate between Taqueria San Jose and Farolito when I was eating more urban food logs back in the day.

                            Haven't been to Jalisco in awhile; all my carnitas are coming from Casa Jimenez of late- Racer 5 on tap! They have burritos on the menu.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Pius Avocado III
                              hungree May 18, 2013 09:17 AM

                              Tried a chicken super burrito at Farolito...it was pretty nasty.

                              1. re: hungree
                                Pius Avocado III May 18, 2013 09:21 AM

                                Chile verde is the way to go.

                                1. re: Pius Avocado III
                                  Mission May 18, 2013 11:15 AM

                                  I had a chili verde super burrito last week at El Farolito on International Blvd.

                                  very average... will probably never return.

                                  1. re: Mission
                                    hungree May 19, 2013 07:55 AM

                                    Sometimes you just need a Men In Black memory eraser pen.

                            2. Robert Lauriston May 7, 2013 09:18 AM

                              What are your criteria for a good burrito?

                              I don't think SF has anything over Oakland as far as Mexican food. Jalisco Cafe has great carnitas.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                hungree May 7, 2013 09:24 AM

                                The spots I frequent just don't really have it on the menu, or more to the point it's not their feature dish. My go-to's are Flaccos, Nido, Cactus. La Calaca had one but it seemed more like a burrito on a plate. I don't like the burrito at Cactus, and the tacos/plates are just much better. Basically just something like La Costena, with ability to customize and great meats would suffice. Will try Jalisco Cafe.

                                1. re: hungree
                                  Robert Lauriston May 7, 2013 09:25 AM

                                  El Huarache Azteca has great meats, but since they make a variety of items with fresh masa I've never ordered a burrito there.

                                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  vulber May 7, 2013 10:52 AM

                                  SF has better mission-style burritos, and that's what was requested.

                                  1. re: vulber
                                    hungree May 7, 2013 10:59 AM

                                    I know they're *better* in SF, but sometimes it would be nice to get one without going there :).

                                    1. re: hungree
                                      vulber May 7, 2013 11:09 AM

                                      haha i was responding to robert, not you. but if the el farolito on int'l blvd is indeed the same quality, probably your best bet

                                    2. re: vulber
                                      Robert Lauriston May 7, 2013 11:42 AM

                                      Which SF burritos do you think beat Oakland's best? I've never had carnitas in SF that equaled Jalisco Cafe's except maybe La Cumbre back in the old days.

                                      People have so many different ideas of what constitutes a great burrito that a general statement that SF is better seems absurd to me.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        hungree May 7, 2013 11:51 AM

                                        Favorite burrito in the bay is in Mountain View, not SF, at la Costena (the carne asada is grilled to order). Favorite carnitas are at La Bamba. Cancun in SF is unmatched (for me) for overall burrito, salsa, chip quality. Al Pastor there is better than carnitas, but the chicken is bomb as well.

                                        I am very excited to check out Farolito and Jalisco.

                                        1. re: hungree
                                          ML8000 May 7, 2013 01:32 PM

                                          +1 on La Bamba (carnitas) and Cancun (al pastor). The quesidilla suiza is also good at Cancun. Cancun also griddles/toasts the tortilla before making the burrito.

                                          The other thing, as mentioned, taco joints usually do one or a few items really well but the others not so good. Pretty standard for mom and pop shops. The trick of course is to ID the good.

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          vulber May 7, 2013 12:14 PM

                                          no single taqueria does every aspect of a burrito the best, but taqueria cancun is the best overall in my opinion.

                                          1. re: vulber
                                            Robert Lauriston May 7, 2013 12:42 PM

                                            Which Taqueria Cancun?

                                            I don't think "overall" is meaningful absent details of what people order. I want crunchy carnitas with lardy refried beans in a steamed tortilla. Somebody who likes carne asada with black beans and doesn't like steamed tortillas is going to be judging by radically different standards.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              vulber May 7, 2013 01:02 PM

                                              the one at 19th/mission is definitely the best, as it has the most turnover, and therefore the steam tables are replenished the most.

                                              regardless, unless there's something specified (like crunchy carnitas with lardy refried beans), i'm going to answer the one that has the highest chance of making someone happy regardless of their choice.

                                              if you had a group of 10 people that all wanted to get burritos, but you didn't know their preferences, taqueria cancun will result in the highest number of satisfied people.

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