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.

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!