The Agents of Guard were talking about things they like (burritos and hanging out and SDCC) and someone asked me where the best place to get a burrito is in San Diego.
Boy, is that ever a loaded question! I mean, how do you respond to something like that? San Diego has a TON of hole-in-the-wall taco shops. Where do you find the best burrito in a sea of quite decent burritos?
To be honest, many non-locals will be happy with really any of the nearest taco shops to where they’re staying for the con (probably.) My recommendation to people just tends to be “yelp Mexican food near where you are” and you’re bound to find something pretty good.
However, in the quest for the best (because we take burritos very seriously) I provide a few humble suggestions below, and some notable mentions of places well-known around town that I haven’t tried (but clearly need to set burrito-eating appointments to give them a shot.)
Drawing on my memory banks, I think that El Zarape has the best carne asada I’ve ever eaten. I used to take voice lessons near one of their locations and would almost always order a burrito or carne asada plate to take with me afterwards. The meat is really tender and not overcooked, which can be a common problem. I don’t find myself in that part of town much anymore but now that I am writing this I find the sudden urge to go back immediately.
El Ranchito is “the taco shop of Poway” which is where I grew up. I definitely have a soft spot for El Ranchito and tend to eat there whenever I’m in town. Their carne asada and California burritos are fairly no-frills but tasty. This is great because I hate it when some places put random stuff in their burritos (like peppers in a Cali burrito or beans in a carne asada burrito. NO.) The flautas here are to die for as well.
Kotija Jr. is pretty well-known around San Diego for being a great place to grab a burrito. I have had a few hits and misses there but I was killing time last week near a Kotjia Jr. and decided to stop in for a California burrito and I’ll be damned if that was not one of the most perfect California burritos I’ve ever had. Crispy fries make all the difference, you know? I killed the entire burrito in one sitting (a first?) and now am on a diet for the rest of the month.
Lucha Libre is kind of tricky for me to write about. First of all, the food is really good. It’s a little different than your standard taco shop and kind of toes the line between provocative and good ol’ standby, but for me the quality of the food is really all that matters. I’ve been to LL a few times and to be honest, while it’s worth the trip if you’ve never been there (since it’s THE San Diego taco shop on all the tv shows) I don’t really have much desire to return. The parking is atrocious, the shop is always over-crowded due to the tourist landmark status, and it’s definitely a drive from my house. Which…driving 40 minutes round trip for a very good burrito in a sea of other pretty good burritos is often times just not worth it for me, and especially not when compounded with the crowds and difficult parking.
Rolando’s is one Mexican restaurant that I will actually drive considerable distances to go to. I’ve been here a million times and there isn’t a thing on the menu I don’t like that I’ve tried. Love the carne asada and machaca burritos in particular. Carne asada fries are also a notable standout. (AND it’s not all that far from SDCC!) It’s tried and true as far as I’m concerned.
I suppose I’ve spent enough hours at Trujillo’s that it warrants a mention. Trujillo’s is one of two taco shops situated right next to San Diego State University, the other being Senor Pancho’s. If you were an SDSU student, you were either on Team Trujillo’s or Team Panchos. Personally, I preferred Trujillo’s although I only ate at Panchos once and they have a drive-thru so that’s kind of nice. Trujillo’s has excellent burritos and a lot of sorority girls hang out there, so that’s two pluses! The local favorite burrito is the Phi Psi burrito, which is really the original quesarito: a California burrito wrapped in a quesadilla.
Notable other suggestions I haven’t tried (yet):
Lolita’s– it’s a popular chain that has a few different locations around town, and I have yet to hear anything other than praise.
Las Cuatro Milpas– I had some coworkers who would take the occasional 2 hour lunch to go way out of the down to this place for their burritos. I hear it gets crowded but is worth the wait. It’s not far from Rolando’s so I usually end up there instead…
Baja Betty’s– allegedly serves a 17″ burrito. Might be worth checking out.
Amorcita Corazon– apparently users curly fries in their California burritos! I’m intrigued…
Pokez– I can’t believe I haven’t been to Pokez yet. I’ve driven by it a hundred times, every time I go downtown, but always end up eating somewhere else. One day, Pokez. One day.
A different perspective (sort of?)
I posited the following question to my husband: You have the day off, and you want to go get your favorite burrito. Where do you go and why? His response: “If I want to go to a sit-down restaurant and eat a burrito, I’ll go to Fidel’s Little Mexico in Solana Beach or Las Cuatros Milpas. If I want to grab a burrito to take home, I’ll go to Lolita’s or get a breakfast burrito from Nico’s, my local neighborhood taco shop.”
So there you have it. Hopefully you’re a little better prepared to find the best burrito when you come to San Diego for Comic Con!