Young, Broke & Beautiful Burritos

Sorry I’ve been out of it this week, but I threw my back out and have been for the most part, well on my back with a heating pad to try and not act like a 70 year old man when I walk.

My wife pointed out a show in the IFC called Young, Broke and Beautiful that is done by a guy I have met and been featured on his website — Broke Ass Stuart. I met him at the SF Weekly Webby Awards because he is generally in San Francisco, or New York, but now with his show he travels around a lot. Not too bad for being a broke ass. Today’s subject though was a minor part of his show in San Diego where he made that comment, a California Burrito has to have french fries. [cue record scratch]. No that is not correct. A San Diego, CA Burrito may need french fries, but not a California burrito and I am going to go into the history of burritos in California because they’ve gotten a claim to fame in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In Mexico a burrito is usually only beans and meat wrapped in a flour tortilla. It’s a simple hand held meal that’s easy to deal with. Not a balanced meal for the most part, but it’s a meal. When California transferred it’s ownership from Spain to the United States things changed a bit. California is a very agricultural state and we have lots of other things that the Mexican’s who now where American’s could add to the simple burrito. Cheese, Guacamole [probably from the tree in So Cal that was the birth of the Haas avocado], salsa, rice sometimes lettuce [which should never really be put in a burrito]. California being the green state greened up the burrito and that then was referred to in Mexico as the California burrito. Never was there any mention of putting french fries in a burrito. I did write an article about a place in SF that was making what they called the California burrito with french fries, but they got the idea from San Diego. El Burrito Express makes a BajaCal burrito with fries and we know that Baja California is down south so that would make sense since it’s closer to San Diego. Here in San Francisco you can even find the occasional peas, carrots or corn added into your burrito, but I shudder to think of that and just stick with the beans, meat, cheese guacamole and sour cream [I don’t like rice in my burritos].

If I further need to make my point the California burrito was invented in San Francisco in 1961 at El Faro and was first referred to as the Mission Style burrito and then the California burrito. The San Diego with french fries was first documented in 1995. San Francisco started the size of your calf style burrito as most of them before you could get one hand around with some extra room. It almost became comical when you could get a super burrito in some places that was bigger around than a kid’s thigh. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that San Francisco also came up with the Super Burrito as well.

Apparently the San Francisco Bay Area seems to also have the least expensive burritos in the world. Someone who’s name I couldn’t find who writes for seeks out burritos around the world and found awful burritos in Scotland at $15 each [does the burrito come with Haggis?] To the $10 tasteless burritos in Australia. I’m happy to say that I can get a regular cheese burrito for under $4 [when I’m in a broke kind of way] or with meat for under $5. If you like burritos, you need to come to San Francisco to try the best. Hell, you can even get vegan burritos here.

Shout out to Phil at @ebxsf!

6 Replies to “Young, Broke & Beautiful Burritos”

  1. I’m sorry but I have to disagree, the “California burrito” is a San Diego thing and is a San Diego style burrito (meat, pico de gallo and a thin guacamole) with cheese and french fries added in. 

    The burrito you are talking about is a Mission or Mission-style burrito or even a SF burrito if you want and consists of meat, beans, rice, cheese, guac, sour cream and other random ingredients. The same as what Chipotle serves (I believe since I would never actually step foot in that horrible chain).

    Even though I grew up on mission burritos, the regular SD burrito (in my opinion) is the king of all burritos, I find mission burritos too bland and too stuffed with competing flavors. Keep it simple.

  2. The “California Burrito” was appropriated in 1995 to identify their style of burrito. As I noted the “Mission Style” was first served in 1961 at El Faro in San Francisco and in a couple of years became known as the “California Burrito”

    I would consider french fries as a rather bland filler item, but we are both entitled to our own opinions.

  3. From what I have read, the idea of calling the mission burrito, the California burrito actually occurred in 1991 when a company attempted to sell the mission style burrito to
    New Yorkers and called their outfit the California Burrito Co. Up to and prior to that and continuing until today the California burrito was a SD burrito with french fries.

    I am with you on the french fries, as I meant to say above but maybe wasn’t clear, my favorite burrito style is the straight SD style burrito, carne asada, pico de galoo and
    thin guac. Plus the tortilla is grilled not steamed, to add some nice additional flavor notes. I too think the french fries are just overkill (kind of like beans and rice).

    Now carne asada french fries, that is a whole different and delicious world…

    Looks like we may have accidentally opened up a new front in the ongoing nor-cal v. so-cal burrito wars.

  4. I will have to give this one to you as it appears that “California Style” associated with San Francisco which was there last night is now gone. I did find one source at:

    It reminds me of my childhood. When people talked about “California Style” burritos they were referring to what was made in San Francisco, but I’ll work harder to dig up more info on this.

    In the end when you drop “California burrito” you get the San Diego variety, though most articles reference San Francisco’s “Mission Style” as being the ones everyone else tries to copy. I’ll be happy with that.

  5. ” In the end when you drop “California burrito” you get the San Diego
    variety, though most articles reference San Francisco’s “Mission Style”
    as being the ones everyone else tries to copy.
    I’ll be happy with that.”

    Makes me wonder why the mission style has been so popular, I guess maybe the oversize portions and the fact you can cover up bad meat with the rice and beans  (not that the burritos you find in the
    mission use bad meat, quite the opposite) , that makes it easy for all the chains to make passable versions of the burrito all over the country. It’s definitely harder to do when the majority of your burrito
    consists of a single kind of meat and a little bit of salsa.

    I could never find any SD style burritos in the Bay Area, it was really too bad. Do you like SD-style burritos?

  6. Ah you haven’t been up the SF in awhile. You can keep anything out of a burrito and many places have rice less burritos on their menu. I think the Mission style is the one everyone tries to copy because it dates back to 1961 for commercial consumption and before that by the Central Valley farm workers.

    When I was in Texas I expect to get great Mexican food which I did, but it was full on Mexican street style food not what you find in California. No guacamole or sour cream. Just meat and a few grilled onions on a tortilla for a taco with a bit of beans added for a burrito.

    I haven’t tried an SD burrito yet, but there a place in the Mission and El Burrito Express that serves the “BajaCali” burrito with french fries.

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