Mission Burritos [San Francisco Bay Area]

The Mission burrito is one of the Bay Area’s greatest creations. I don’t get burritos too often as they have a high cost in terms of calories, but when I do I like a good one.

Some Places I like:
La Taqueria (San Francisco, Mission)
I don’t go here as often as before - the lines have gotten pretty crazy. Atypical Mission taqueria as they have an odd aversion to rice (no rice in burritos or anything else for that matter) and put beans in their tacos.The lack of rice at La Taqueria makes its burrito a bit lighter than the typical Mission burrito. Also juicier. When I’m eating a La Taqueria burrito it usually springs a leak at some point. I’m guessing the lack of rice to soak up meat juices contributes to this. You can get everything here dorado, or grilled. I like my burritos and tacos here grilled, adds a nice crunchy texture to the outside.

El Farolito (San Francisco, Mission, 24th St. branch)
Right outside the 24th street bart station. Huge burritos. They use whole avocado pieces rather than guacamole. High meat quality probably helped by the high turnover - there’s almost always a line here and they are open late. Also good quesadillas suiza.

La Corneta (San Francisco, Glen Park)
Assembly line place. I go here a lot because it’s near my bart stop. Can get baby size burritos which are about 3/4 of the size of a regular burrito. I like the shrimp and meat burritos here. They grill the shrimp to order. This place puts lettuce in their burritos, so if that is unacceptable to you let them know. They don’t grill their tortillas by default. The super shrimp and meat quesadillas are also good here. Warning - they make tacos with beans by default, and they can get a bit soggy.

La Palma Mexicatessen (San Francisco, Mission)
Excellent flour tortillas that are made in house. You can get fresh made masa, tortillas, huaraches, and other masa products here. I like their burrito with chicharonnes.

Not a fan:
Taqueria Cancun (San Francisco, Mission). I’ve only been here twice. Its between Bart stations. Ordered a vegetarian super burrito once and I think a carnitas super burrito the second time. In both cases seemed a bit soggy, homogenized and kind of blah. People seem to like this place and there was a line both times I went. Maybe I should try it again.

Papalote (San Francisco, Mission). Have only been here a few times as well. Something’s missing from their burritos, can’t quite put my finger on it. May be too healthy. I do like their orange salsa, which they also sell jarred and is also available at Whole Foods and other places.

Tried recently:
El Castellito (San Francisco, Duboce Triangle)
Got a carnitas super burrito with pinto beans. Pretty good. Large tortilla grilled, good. They use squares of cheese instead of shredded on the tortillas. Light on beans, and especially on rice. Heavier on meat. Good salsa bar. Tomatillo avocado and spicy salsa roja were both good. They have free pickled jalapenos. In terms of balance seemed a little bit too bready from the tortilla though the tortilla itself was good.

Anyone have a favorite burrito spot to recommend?

1 Like

I’ve been ruined for the gringo version of the burrito ever since I visited the state and city of Chihuahua, Mexico a few years ago. The tortillas for their burritos are thicker and more rustic, they grill them and into the tortilla goes a stew (guisados) and nothing else, no beans, no rice, no salad, no guacamole, no lettuce, no sour cream, nothing. The stews, whether its a tinga of chicken, or cubes of beef in a red chile sauce, or pork in a green chile and ripe tomatillo sauce, or my favorite, chicharron de pella, chicharrones with a little meat in a bright-hot green chile and tomatillo sauce - or whatever, these stews have, bless Paula Wolfort, big taste, and they don’t need anything else. Our version is just not focused taste-wise. In my far-distant youth, I once had three mission burritos from El Faro in one sitting, but decades have passed and my Chihuahua born wife has saved me and I wanted to bring all the good news about Enrizos in Chihuahua…

Three in one sitting?!

I was 18 then, many things were possible that can’t even be safely attempted these days.

2 Likes

My memory of my Mission days is pretty in line with your assessments, though I transformed into more of a taco person. These days my favorite is Tacos Mi Rancho, the truck next to Lake Merritt. They grill the tortilla nicely, giving it some flavor, making it worth eating the calorie bomb rather than just a taco. The ratio of fillings always seems to be in balance. Salsas are just standard, but they’re generous with the pickled jalapenos and carrots.

Just want to comment that a “Mission burrito” isn’t supposed to be a “Mexican burrito.”

3 Likes

I also mostly eat tacos nowadays, but every so often get a craving for the La Cumbre carne asada burrito I remember from 20 years ago. Back then the carne asada was freshly grilled, deeply seasoned, nicely charred and wonderfully juicy. Sadly, I have yet to encounter anything similar today. Any nominations in the Mission or Fruitvale?

La Cumbre is still around, though I haven’t been to the one in SF. Has quality declined there?

I went to the Mi Rancho truck occasionally when I lived in the East Bay but mostly got tacos. The one burrito I had from Mi Rancho was a super burrito. However I don’t remember much about it other than its length, which was about twice as much as typical burritos.

The T-shirts were always better than the burritos at La Cumbre, IMHO.

El Farolito is probably the consensus pick for best Mission burrito in town, and I wouldn’t really dispute it, though Taqueria San Jose’s Al pastor burrito is probably my favorite; the meat is shaved from a shawarma-type spit (Mission /24th branch). Most of my info is old, though; I can’t handle a whole Mission burrito at my age. I’m more of a “Super taco” fan and I do like Cancun for those (all three branches, though the Mission/Valencia branch once gave me stale chips and I’ve never forgiven them).

1 Like

They had/have t-shirts? We used to eat there back in the mid80s and I don’t remember that.

When we’re behaving ourselves, we split one. Or get two meals from them. They MW surprisingly well.

Here’s Calvin Trillin’s description of the La Cumbre T-shiirt. He owned two, at one point. I owned one (which I wore out).

Serious eaters in San Francisco tend to be loyal to their own burrito purveyor. Abigail, for instance, is a Taquería La Cumbre person. In the spirit in which a rabid baseball fan from St. Louis might hand out Cardinals caps, she once presented me with a T-shirt whose front is almost totally taken up by La Cumbre’s logo—a heroic painting of a sort of Latinized Ava Gardner wearing crossed bandoliers and carrying both a bugle and an unfurled Mexican flag.

Yeah I’m not in the City anymore, so I do miss those Mission burrito spots.

I guess were talking assembly line style, Mexican places when your looking at getting a burrito.

I used to go to El Toro a lot. I like La Corneta as well but the location wasn’t always convenient for me.

I also went to Zapata in the Castro some,
There was one on 24th in Noe Valley that had a back patio if I recall, but can’t remember the name.

If I was in San Mateo the best taqueria I thought was on 3rd st. Pancho Villa. I didn’t care too much ever for the 16th st SF location of Pancho Villa in the Mission, but I like the one in San Mateo.

Have you ever seen the video where Joey Chestnut eats a 5 pound burrito in 3 minutes?

It’s pretty impressive.

Mr_Happy, yes it has sadly declined. In fact, it hasn’t been the same for many, many years.

Revolting.

I like Coroneta, although technically not in the Mission as I primarily go to the Glen Park branch. The rice has a few peas scattered in and they do a nice cochinita pibil that I often combine with prawns. I’m not a super-burrito person, so lower quality or overly salty meats stand out when not covered up by sour cream, guac and cheese. The meats seem to be higher quality than Farolito, et al. La Taqueria’s meats are good quality but I can’t abide by the thin limp nature of their burritos.

Back in the '80s I remember them being really good. Simpler than today’s mission burrito: just meat (carne asada, of course), beans, and salsa (though I always cheated by asking for cheese). But I haven’t been back in a decade or so, based on downhill reports…don’t want to kill the memory.

But my t-shirt long ago went to that great sock drawer in the sky, so I might have to go back anyway just to get another.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold