I am a bit of a burrito snob. There I admitted it. But how could I not be growing up in CA? I began my affair with burritos in middle school and when I was a lot less picky. My sister and I would ride our bikes to El Pollo Loco in downtown Los Altos and stuff our faces with burritos, chips and salsa. I am not embarrassed to admit I liked the burritos at El Pollo Loco. I loved how, after the burrito was made they lightly grilled it. It had something I have sought in burritos ever since and not found until moving to NYC (more on that further down). San Francisco is where I really honed my burrito snobbery. For a while, I was having a burrito at least once a week (awww that fast early 20s metabolism!). On more than one occasion, I may have even pulled a burrito out of my purse while I was in a nightclub dancing and mingling with boys. I couldn’t and can’t get enough of them!
We were warned that NYC doesn’t have good Mexican food. But we’ve actually found quite a few places that are very tasty and that we would highly recommend (Antojitos Mexicanas in East Williamsburg and Taqueria San Pedro in Harlem). What we have had a hard time finding are burritos.
The Comparison: Gordo Taqueria, Outer Richmond, San Francisco Los Hermanos, Marina, San Francisco and El Farolito, Mission, San Francisco. Honestly, how could I pick just one place in San Francisco as my favorite burrito?
My Base Order: Regular chicken burrito with pinto beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and hot sauce. (Sometimes at Los Hermanos I will add nacho cheese for a real treat!).
The distinguishing characteristic of all these places are that they are taquerias. They are meant to be walked into, ordered from and taken out again. They all have the various ingredients you could fill your burrito with, laid out behind a plexiglass window. There are many places in NYC that call themselves taquerias that are not true taquerias. They are large chains, their meat is overcooked and dry, and the ratio of ingredients to tortilla is always off. However, there have been a few gems that stood up to my snobby standards! A couple in particular...
My order at Fatty Daddy: Small spicy chicken burrito with no lettuce. I add sour cream and guacamole.
It’s true Fatty Daddy doesn’t have an ingredient bar to order from, but you can order at the counter and modify any of their pre-configured burrito options. Every time I’ve had a burrito here it has been heavenly. The first time I had it I was speechless. I hadn’t realized just how much I was missing burritos until I tasted a Fatty Daddy one. My only regret is that I didn’t discover this place sooner. There were a lot of dark days when my craving for a burrito almost made me pack up and move back to SF.
My order at La Gringa: grilled chicken with sour cream, pico de gallo, pinto beans, rice, guacamole and plantains (that were eaten separately).
La Gringa had a limited ingredient bar, but it was just enough! I ordered from the menu and then added a few things like Guac (which was $1.73 extra!). They are known for making their burritos and tacos with plantains so I went ahead and put those in too. They were a tasty treat, but I ended up having to pull them out because they didn’t make it an equal comparison. My favorite part about the La Gringa burrito was that they grilled the tortilla before filling it which gave it that crunch that I have been searching for since my El Pollo Loco days!
After trying these two burritos I knew my quest was complete!
*An honorable mention goes out to L.A. Burrito in Williamsburg. They served up a solid burrito, but it didn’t blow me away like Fatty Daddy or La Gringa. The pros: the ingredients tasted fresh and the meat wasn’t dry. The cons: it was too large to be eaten without a fork and knife, the tortilla got soggy, I didn’t feel like I could customize it and the guacamole was $2.75 extra! While it satisfied my burrito cravings, it wouldn’t be a burrito I would go out of my way to get.