Life

Famous Chefs Tell Us Where To Score The Best Burritos In The Country

Burritos are the perfect food. Boom. It has been said. Sure, there’s someone one out there — some undignified monster — who claims to hate burritos. But that’s all for show. It’s a facade. Even if it were genuine, this hatred would be the fault of the consumer, because the burrito is endlessly permutable. It is one of the few things in life that you can control. There are no bad burritos, only bad orders. A burrito has the potential at any point to be transcendence swaddled in a tortilla. Plus, they are handheld. Everyone knows food you eat with your hands is, in all instances, more soul-nourishing than food that requires utensils. Just ask the barrel-chested dude clutching a greasy turkey leg at your local Renn Faire.

The only boundary to a burrito is the imagination — you are able to purchase a doughnut burrito as easily as a Korean or breakfast one — but, it was more traditional burritos that resonated with the chefs in we talked to for this installment of Chefs Tell Us. We asked a group of culinary authorities to tell us about the best burrito they’ve ever eaten, and their answers show not only the versatility of this king of foods, but also the enthusiasm people feel for them. There isn’t a standardized burrito that defines what constitutes the ideal, so expect plenty of variation in these responses.

As you read, you may find that some of the chefs are on your wavelength, or you may end the piece certain that you know better than everyone else. If so, please, please, please set us straight in the comments.

Chef Mark McDonald — Executive Chef and Owner, Old Vine Cafe

The new West Coast Fish in The Camp in Costa Mesa, CA has a shrimp wrap that I keep going back to lately. It is light, fresh and flavorful.

Chef Craig Connole — Executive Chef, La Casa del Camino, K’ya Bistro Bar, The Rooftop Lounge

Chabela Burrito in San Francisco, California [Sadly, it appears to have closed.]. In the early 90s, I would go up there to see my cousin’s band play, and they would always finish really late. We would be drinking all night at the club and be starving when it was over. This place was open until 3 a.m. and always had a huge line down the block. It was the first time I had seen that setup, similar to Chipotle. BURRITOS ONLY! It was a tiny place and they would put whatever meats you wanted and go down the line for the rest, roll it up, and out the door within two minutes. I swear each burrito weighed three pounds, and you could never finish the entire thing.

Chef Danny Allen — Executive Chef, Ways & Means Oyster House

Being a Southern California native, I have had HUNDREDS of amazing burritos throughout the years, and if I had to pick one place, it would be Rod’s in Redondo Beach, California. The Rod’s burrito is packed with carne asada, rice and beans, then covered in salsa verde and melted cheese. It’s amazing!

Chef Elizabeth Blau — Founder/CEO, Blau + Associates

La Taqueria in San Francisco. Head down to the Mission District and order a Carne Asada Burrito. Be aware there will probably be a line, but it’s worth it and it moves quick. Also, the place is cash only. If you’re feeling full of energy and on an empty stomach, order your burrito “super” (includes cheese, sour cream & avocado), and then, get it grilled!

Chef Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ — Owner, Dr. BBQ

I don’t like it when my burrito is made of mostly filler items, like rice, beans, and lettuce. I am a meat and tortilla guy and think you should only add other things that make the meat and tortilla taste better. For my money, the best burrito on the planet is the chicken, cheese, and green chile offering at El Modelo in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tucked away on the south side of Albuquerque and definitely a local’s place, El Modelo is all about the food. They start with an amazing giant tortilla and fill it with tender juicy chicken, white cheese of some sort, and a serious amount of New Mexico green chiles.

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