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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.

The chiles are so flavorful and some days a little (or a lot) hotter than others – but that’s the fun of eating chiles! The combination is perfect and doesn’t need anything added to it. I really wish I was there right now!

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#ChicarroneBurrito

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Chef Oscar Cabezas — Executive Chef, Teleferic Barcelona

The breakfast burrito of El Farolito is my religion on Mondays. The Mission district is a melting pot of cultures, where the natives are travelers. They themselves are The Mission. La Mision has a mixed, mestizo, authentic identity, and its food is mainly Mexican and Central American. El Farolito is an icon of the neighborhood, located on a corner of hustle and bustle, representing the quintessence of Mexican street food.

I usually visit The Mission on my day off, and the burrito is part of my cheerful routine. The breakfast burrito is the small homage that I give myself after a week of hard work. I am fascinated by its fleshy texture, its juicy and humid filling, and deciphering its complex flavor.

Chef Garrett Pittler — Executive chef, City Winery Nashville

My family likes to go to this nasty-ass taco truck in Hermitage, Tennessee, called La Mulita Express. It’s just a tiny truck on the side of Lebanon Pike, a busy road out by the Nashville airport, and their burritos are exceptional.

Chef Jon Melendez — Owner and Chef, CIVIC and Mar

Trick question? You guys know I own a burrito spot right? I might be a little bias here, but one of the only reasons I reopened the CIVIC concept is to be able to eat the CIVIC breakfast burrito whenever I want. I get really tired of eating the food I make every day, but this burrito is the only thing out of over 60 menu items between two restaurants that I have that I can honestly say I would eat everyday, sometimes twice a day … yeah, I’ve done it.

Chef Andrew Gruel — Chef, Slapfish, Butterleaf, Two Birds

Best burrito I have ever had was at Benito’s Taco Shop in Los Angeles, CA. They cater to a drunken late night crowd, but the burritos are great any time of the day. The carne asada burrito filled with everything is the best, and the hot sauces are smokey and fire-alarm inducing as well. You can’t go wrong with anything here because the shells are toasted fresh.

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#thisiswhyimfat

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Benito's I love you

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Chef David Smith — Executive Chef, Second Floor Regionally Inspired Kitchen

Taco Taco in Nantucket owns the title for best burrito. They keep it simple and it’s so, so good. Juicy marinated chicken, housemade Spanish rice, cheese, veggies, and fresh hot sauce all rolled in a freshly pressed tortilla. This place is so cool because it’s a little hideaway shack. You just walk up, order, and devour.

Chef Isaac Miller — Chef and Partner, Maven

Charlie’s Taqueria in San Mateo is hands down the best al pastor in all of the San Francisco Bay Area. Their spices, the ratio of meat to fat, and sauce all make this the best in my opinion.

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Undoing everything I've done at the gym all week

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It is only proper. #happycincodemayo

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Chef Katy Smith — Executive Creative Chef, Puesto

My favorite food in the world is eggs, and my second favorite food is breakfast burritos. At A’s Burger in Dana Point, California, they serve them with steak, chorizo, or bacon, their awesome house potatoes, cheddar cheese, and the most important ingredient their salsa fresca. It is totally simple but the best hangover cure in the world.

Chef Lorena Garcia — Featured Chef, CHICA

CHICA Las Vegas, brunch. I am not too humble to say that the most delicious breakfast burrito in Las Vegas is at CHICA Las Vegas in the Venetian, my latest restaurant project. The burrito is the perfect ratio of eggs, cheese, and beans, plus a little will start any day off right … or even end a long night pretty brilliantly, too. We don’t judge in Vegas (or Miami for that matter!).

Chef Matt Fresinski — Corporate Chef, V&E Restaurant Group

Most, if not all, of my burrito memories stem from very late nights as we make our way home, and some I may not remember. Taco y Taco stands out though. Their al pastor is the best. Mostly I get tacos when I’m there, but the few times I am out early enough, they have the best breakfast burrito — the chorizo makes it.

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