San Francisco's Top 10 Burritos

El_Toro_burrito_assembly.jpg
/Flickr
The assembly line at El Toro.
​Within five minutes of arguing with any San Franciscan about the best burrito in town, it becomes clear that what makes a great burrito is different for all of us. For some people, greatness is impossible without girth. For others, the quality and quantity of the meat is most important, and a few stalwart taqueria regulars refuse to eat a burrito unless the tortilla has been griddled.

SFoodie doesn't really care about size or tortilla heating method. For us, the most important factor is flavor. And not just the flavor of the meat and salsa: The beans must be well cooked, and the rice can't be just filler -- seeing as how you're carbo-bombing your body, the bulk of the wrap should taste like more than starch. A great burrito stacks six or seven good components on top of one another, so that even when you get a bite without cheese, or salsa or meat, you want to keep eating the thing.

Here are our 10 favorite right now:

papalote.jpg
Jonathan Kauffman
Papalote's Mission location.
10. Papalote Mexican Grill (24th St. location)

We love the fact that Papalote cooks most of the meats in its burritos to order, but the results can be pretty generic, until you drip on Papalote's magic potion: that roasted-tomato salsa. Smoky, tangy, and deep, it electrifies everything it touches, and for us, that means spooning more into the wrap with every bite. You could eat that salsa by the jar -- hey, now you can.

Little_Chihuahua.JPG
Jonathan Kauffman
Little Chihuahua.
9. The Little Chihuahua (Divisadero location)

Lil' Chihuahua may be the only taqueria on this list that buys sustainably raised meat. And that's probably a good thing, on the whole. But SFoodie actually goes there for its black bean and plantain veggie burrito. Most of the Mission's veggie burritos fail because they make a direct substitution of tofu for meat. Tofu will never be meat, no matter how long you simmer it in ranchera sauce. The plantain and black bean burrito starts from a different point altogether: The burrito brings together slices of creamy, sweet fried plantain with roasted red peppers, enough cheese to contain the sugars in the fruit, and black beans, which don't need a hunk of smoked pork to taste meaty.

Gordos.JPG
Jonathan Kauffman
Gordo Taqueria
8. Gordo Taqueria (Clement Street location)

There are a number of Gordos in San Francisco and Oakland, but SFoodie had long written off the chain because we hadn't eaten at the right one: The farthest west location, a tiny takeout joint that looks like it dates back to the San Francisco burrito's earliest days, with prices we haven't seen in Mission taquerias since the 1990s. Here, it's all about the carne asada super burrito; almost every bite hits you with that flash of the salsa, segueing through the char on the steak, the buzzy sub-base of beans and rice, and ending in creamy guac and melted cheese.


Location Info

Venue

Map

La Corneta Taqueria

2834 Diamond, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
67 comments
xoconostle
xoconostle

No "best burritos" list is ever perfect but at least this one includes some actually-good and savvy choices while leaving off some of the tragic has-beens and inexplicably popular mishaps. However, I've gotta say, unless you're a vegan, in which case most taqueria fare isn't really for you, Papalote is pretty darned awful. Yes, that salsa is good, and that's about it. Odd to see it listed as merely "roasted tomato" salsa because chipotle is the salient ingredient, but whatever. I"m not a stickler for authenticity but Papalote is so far from it. On the other hand, you're quite right to mention La Corneta, frequently overlooked on "best" lists for some reason. One interesting little place that is *never* mentioned, but should be, is Ciudad de Mexico in the Inner Richmond District. You'll find surprising flavor combinations there that are more Mexican-Mexican than San Francisco-Mexican. Super-friendly staff, great burritos and tortas. As for ye olde La Taqueria, if you go there when the techbros and tourists are packed in, you'll think it's the most overrated, overpriced taqueria in town, because the care put into the food (and evidently, the portions) suffers. However if you're there at "off" hours, everything improves dramatically. I think this may be why reviews of the place differ so radically these days. I have one more "secret" place that I won't mention, sorry, but do try Ciudad de Mexico sometime.

sfhrod
sfhrod topcommenter

This list sucks. Designer burrito joints approved by hipsters or those who have recently moved here, does not imply best burritos in SF. Locals and natives like myself know better, you can have your "list" hahahaha!!

Gus Medina
Gus Medina

been to all except "la corneta".. good list!

William Dolan
William Dolan

Wow, PAPALOTE and Gordo Taqueria are TERRIBLE!!! For real, I've given them both several tries, and never going back to either place... Your whole list loses credibility when you feature places like these, that SUCK. Yeah, and Taquerias El Farolito is lame as well, bunch of weak hipster burrito joints, these places would not even be in business if they were in SoCal. If you want a SOLID Burrito, and you are ready to step up your game to some real authentic, Vato Loco styleee Mexican food, go to El Burrito eXpress or Taqueria Los Coyotes.

Haley Mostofi
Haley Mostofi

YES! La Corneta deserves some recognition around here finally.

Christina Salgado
Christina Salgado

Taqueria gets my vote! Burrito heaven all day. #burritolover

Beat Valley
Beat Valley

was prepared to hate this list. they're designed to arouse dissent and attract comments. there are some bad choices and forgotten gems. but it's actually not bad. taqueria san francisco is the best it's true

Larry Blücher
Larry Blücher

How is Taqueria Cancún not on that list? Many many moons ago, although they weren't the best yet they weighed a ton when prepared.... Chabela's on Haight st.

Jorge MackIntire
Jorge MackIntire

Literally just came back to my office with a burrito when I saw this

editor118
editor118

What about Pancho's on Polk street, Buracho Burrito is Awesome!

Lisa Dempnock Maxfield
Lisa Dempnock Maxfield

Pepito's burritos in the financial district - not sure if it's still there but they had the BEST burritos!

塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

Sorry to say I've eaten at some of your top 10 and I'll never eat there again after the food was bad. And saw a rat in there kitchen! Thank you but No thanks never again!

Karl Wilder
Karl Wilder

I like them all, but have to share. Too massive for one person.

New York City Hotel
New York City Hotel

Arms and fingers down... best burrito.... Taco's El Primo vehicle on the part of Yosemite and Jennings... Don't hit it until you try it. Then get broken out by its incredible-ness. 

England Furniture
England Furniture

Thanks for this list of some great places to get a burrito.  It does seem that what constitutes a great burrito is different for different people, doesn't it?  

Robert Smith
Robert Smith

I have visited  The Little Chihuahua. But hearing  Gordo Taqueria & Papalote Mexican Grill very first time. Any how both are looking great places. Can I get details like address and opening hours?

Robert from istorehours.com

burrito snob
burrito snob

The omission of Cancun is blasphemous. 

And only white people in the Richmond who don't know anything about burritos like Gordo's.

Rabidmonkey69
Rabidmonkey69

Where the hell is Taqueria La Cumbre (Mission location)?

Shawn Scott
Shawn Scott

I commend you for including my long time favorite La Alteña. I've never had better Al Pastor in SF, always so crispy and delicious. I just wish they would retire the faux suiza cheese for something a little more real. 

Michm1210
Michm1210

You missed Pancho Villa's Steak and Prawn melt in your mouth awesomeness of a palate watering burrito!!!!!!

MarlaHooch
MarlaHooch

Where is Taqueria Guadalajara???

undeadsinatra
undeadsinatra

Everyone please do not believe what was written here about La Corneta.  It is my neighborhood joint and the line is long enough as it is.

WyattUrb
WyattUrb

The place to get a burrito thirty years ago was El Faro in the Mission and they are still there.Doesn't longevity count? Also, try El Burrito Express. It's massive and tasty.

Stephen Rahn
Stephen Rahn

Nobody has mentioned the originator (?) of the Mission style Burrito and still the absolute best in my opinion; La Cumbre on Valencia near 16th st.

SF NATIVE
SF NATIVE

Cancun is the archetypal SF burrito.  Fuck this shit

Bob Ball
Bob Ball

Great call...i would felate the burrito at TSF....

SlideSF
SlideSF

I'm not going to argue about your choices, since that's all pretty subjective anyway.  But why, oh WHY does a supposedly professional newspaper write an article about 10 different restaurants without letting the reader in on the little secret of the addresses?  Yes, I know where most of them are, because I have lived in SF for more than 30 years.  And yes I could Google or Yelp! them.  But why should I?  You wrote the article and are tacitly implying that you are an authority.  Tell us where the damn places are and don't make us do the work!

Joncwriter
Joncwriter

Woo!  The Gordo (#8) is around the corner from me and their service is impeccable and amazingly fast (I can walk in, get 2 burritos for lunch, and walk out less than three minutes later), and their food is always tasty and filling.  Well worth the stop!

Mike
Mike

tonayense!!

Pwilliam
Pwilliam

No mention of alt-meats like Birria (goat), aka Guadalajara style? Because IMHO they beat carne asada and pollo every time!

Jb
Jb

YES!!!!! TSF all the way.  Been eating here for 15 years and every burrito is gift from above. 

johnny burrito
johnny burrito

little chihuahua #1 for me, by far, they use nothing but    the healthiest ingridients  and the salsas so tasty,really no challenge.

KPatrick03
KPatrick03

Agreed, I was totally on board with this list until Taqueria Cancun was left off.  Serious oversight.

kseidman11
kseidman11

@New York City Hotel 

You are so right.  Primo has it going on.


Monroe
Monroe

La Cumbre is on Valencia near Muddy Waters and Locanda.

Ang.
Ang.

BEST. CARNITAS. ANYWHERE.

xoconostle
xoconostle

@Stephen Rahn  Yeah, they were good in the early 1980s. Gawdawful these days. It's over.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...