EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 The Burrito Wars | Baghdad By The Bay

The Burrito Wars

After posting Friday’s article I received some feedback that leads me to believe there is a burrito war brewing. The so called California Burrito which is indigenous to San Diego does not represent the California burrito in an way. The California burrito that San Diego lays claim to started around 1995 actually originating in Las Vegas before moving to San Diego. It generally consists of meat, guacamole or avocado, sour cream and french fries [the original Vegas version used tater tots].

If you look back farther as I mentioned in my Friday article the original burrito made in California for public consumption started life in 1961 at El Faro, but that was made with corn tortillas. The actually Mission style burrito using a flour tortilla originated in 1969 at La Cumbre and is representative of the size of your forearm or bigger things that we know as burritos today.

Prior to all of this the burrito originally got its start in Tuscon, Arizona in the 20’s from a man who carried his food on a donkey [el burro] because they resembled the rolled sacks that donkey’s carried on their sides he called them burritos [little donkeys]. There wasn’t much to them except a tortilla and some meat. Nothing like we expect to find today. Making it’s way farther West the immigrant farm workers in the central valley would pack there lunches in a similar way adding a few other things to the meat such as salsa, beans, rice maybe an avocado slice that they picked and pocketed.

As the farm workers moved north they hit the San Francisco Bay Area where many of them settled in the Mission district and never lost their love for the food that gave them energy when they were out in the fields. This is where the San Francisco or Mission style burrito originated. I do remember back in my youth in the 70’s that if you wanted real Mexican food you had to go to Mission District. The prepackaged burritos you would find at a 7-11 had chopped up beef [usually beef heart] and some beans. This was more like what you might find in Mexico than here in the Mission District.

Now here is where the war part comes in. I always knew growing up that SF had a rivalry with LA. Apparently now that all the party animals have left LA for Vegas San Diego wants in on the game. In doing some research over the weekend I found that San Diego claims to have the best burritos giving it the right to the name California Style burrito. Apparently no one informed us or any of the foodie people who write for magazines about this. As it turns out the french fries in a burrito isn’t a uniform thing in San Diego as well. There are several places in San Diego that serve California Style burritos, but not all of them. Some San Diegans moved up to our territory and opened Taqueria Los Coyotes which serves the California Style burrito. I wrote an article on them previously. For some reason people in San Diego are appalled at the size of our burritos which is odd because theirs are about the same size as ours. They also don’t seem to like all the crap we put in our burritos. I guess they never thought of asking to hold the rice, etc.

I will still stand by my statement that a California Style burrito refers to those made in San Francisco that are attempted to be copied around the world. On my one trip to Mexico they even had a taqueria offering California Style burritos that were made in the same way they were made in San Francisco, no french fries. If you go to any taqueria in California and order a burrito it’s more like what you find in San Francisco where it started. Perhaps I should just let the whole California Style thing go by the wayside because if you’re into burritos you know that San Francisco has the best.

Comments: 2 Comments
  • Oerdin

    You are just factually wrong. I can remember eating real California burritos (not that crap you serve in the bay area) in San Diego in the mid 1980’s. I suggest you get your facts straight before you mouth off with such nonsense. Wikipedia has an excellent article which can point you in the right direction.

  • OK, maybe I’m factually wrong. I had my first burrito at El Faro in the Mission in 1972. I was 10 and it was my birthday weekend.