El Burrito Express: A San Francisco Secret

Thirty years ago when they opened, El Burrito Express was a god send to me. I was a broke college kid with a girlfriend who had a daughter and EBX was half a block away from her house. We would walk down and get a bean and cheese burrito for $3.65 and it would feed the three of us. And oh what a burrito it was. I’ve had burrito’s all over the city and yes, I will sound a bit sacralegious to folks out in El Mission, but I have never had a better burrito than here.

I had to laugh when they said a few years ago that due to the rising cost of supplies they would have to raise their price. The same burrito thirty years later is now $3.95. I can’t knock them for that. What changes they’ve undergone in that time period. Most places will usually trim down their menu to only what is essential. EBX, they’ve expanded it to the point they don’t have room to put up anymore signs and have to use paper attached to the front of their case to advertise their new El Gigante burrito in honor of  the Giants winning the World Series [note, the picture was from last night and they’ve re-arranged things and have done away with the paper signs]. Apparently they’ve also learned a lot about our new technologies and finally have their own website set up, will deliver, they are present on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. That’s pretty impressive for a little burrito shop in the Sunset. I’ve found that calling in my orders works best here as they always seem to be crowded.

Enough about technology. Let’s talk about their food! As you can tell burritos are their main focus, but they have tacos, enchiladas, tamales, tortas as well. They’ve just added something called asada fries that’s kind of like their nachos except using french fries instead of their hand made tortilla chips. That’s more California than the place in the mission that makes a “California Burrito” I’ve spoken about before that’s a burrito with fries added into the mix. I’m going to start with the burritos because they are the best deal you’ll get. You’ve got a choice between the Regular and Bronco to start. The difference is that the regular has guacamole as an extra and the bronco has no rice and sliced avocado [my choice]. If you want a bigger version you ask for the Super burrito or Super Bronco. If you want even bigger than that you have to move up to the Expresso Burrito. This is one HUGE burrito. Two tortillas filled with cheese, beans, rice, meat rolled up and then covered in guacamole, their “special sauce”, more salsa and more cheese. This is the wet style [burrito mojado] and they seem to sell a lot of them.

Now I have at times been a big eater, but lately not so much so I’ve found I can cut one in half and get two days out of it. There was a time that I believe I was able to eat an entire burrito by myself, but I’m not sure. I’ve had their nachos, enchiladas, tostadas & tamales and they’re all good, but it’s the burrito’s that really shine. A personal tip if you’re someone that’s low on cash and needs a quick snack you can get their corn quesadilla’s for 90¢. They also have homemade aqua fresca’s and they also seem to be moving towards a more healthy way of serving their food with in store tips like, “hold the sour creme and add a whole wheat tortilla.” I like the fact that they are being socially responsible and not filling their customers up with tons of lard. They also have advertisements they’ve put on their Burrito TV youtube site that shows they have an interest in giving back to their community and taking care of it as well. See the video below. Note they also have a card you can get where you buy nine burrito’s and the tenth is free.

All in all, there’s little bad I can say against this place. Actually, there’s nothing bad I can say about this place except the front door that is a little hard to open, but that’s nothing. If you want a good burrito, go to the Sunset district. 🙂


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Tommy’s Restaurant: Tommy has Died

As you probably know from my writings I have a thing for Mexican food. There was a place I used to like to frequent that was an old school Mexican restaurant and it  wasn’t in the Mission District, it was in the Richmond District. It was Tommy’s. A working man’s type of place where the food was good and the cocktails would knock you on your ass. I suppose it was because they were not too far from Trader Sam’s where professional’s go to drink.

Tommy Bermejo who started the place in 1965 has died and it’s a sad day in Tequila history. While Tommy’s didn’t invent the Margarita, they sure perfected it. In margarita history there are several people making the claim to being the inventor and I think it was a guy who owned a joint called Tommy’s Place that got the origination transferred over to Tommy’s.

Tommy’s was all about tequila. They had more types on their wall than you could probably find in one place in Mexico. They serve only 100% agave tequila, that means no mixing “neutral spirits” with it. This is the real Mexico hombre. Their website has a list of the over 100 tequila’s they have on hand from blanco, to reposado to añejo to extra añejo. They even have a page to educate you on the finer points of tequila intake. I always hated tequila until I got a chance to try an añejo which is aged like a fine brandy. You don’t make tequila jello shots with this or margaritas. These are fine sipping tequilas that you enjoy slowly.

Tommy and his wife Elmy where from the Yucatan and the food they served showed that. Sure, they had the guacamole and nachos or “white people mexican food” as I call it, but they had other dishes that were pure Yucatan such as the camarones al mojo de ajo and the pork culetas, but they had kind of California-ized over the years mixing in some of the more Americanized tastes in Mexican food. Still, it was a great place to eat and it was inexpensive to eat there. Always good when you dropping a deuce on some fine aged blue agave.

I never got to meet Tommy himself, or if I did I never knew it was him, but I’m glad to see that the place will live on after him. I think this weekend will be a good day to drop in and have a few shots of  Alcatraz Añejo. Diga a dios que dije hola, Tommy!