This first appeared on MUNCHIES in April 2017.
In the US, you'll find all kinds of regional styles and interpretations of Mexican food, from Los Angeles's unbeatable street tacos to New Mexico's green-chile-smothered chimichangas. But in San Francisco, we have the big, beautiful, foil-wrapped creations known as Mission burritos. To an outsider, it may look like all of these lovingly assembled gut bombs of carnitas and beans and rice are equally delectable, but for San Francisco natives and residents, opinions run hot on who makes the one burrito to rule them all.
That being said, there are some things we can agree on as a city—beyond just marijuana legalization—and these nine taquerias all land among our most beloved. Get yours super (that means with guac and sour cream included, n00b) and hit Dolores Park with burrito and Tecate in hand for the real San Francisco treat.
Our burrito obsession is just one part of the brand new MUNCHIES Guide to San Francisco. Check out the rest for recommendations on where to get a cheap drink, a fancy meal, a perfect craft cocktail, a damn good cup of coffee, a great bowl of pho, a killer round of dim sum, and more.
Taqueria La Cumbre: They claim to have invented the Mission-style burrito, which is both lofty and difficult to prove, but their carne asada burrito is so inexplicably fucked-up tasty that you have to humor them. Smother it in avocado salsa and you just might believe the tale. And if you're nowhere near SF, we know how to make their carne asada at home.
El Farolito: Many people—including Eddie Huang—consider this the supreme champion of Mission burritos. They're massive, should always be made "super," and often consumed after 2 AM. The line snakes out the door well after all the bars shut down. There are a couple locations, but the one on Mission and 24th often feels like the center of the universe. The devil is in the details, such as the way they melt the cheese onto their super-stretchy tortillas as they cook the meat for your burrito, and their phenomenal avocado salsa.
La Taqueria: For purists who don't want rice in their burritos, there is the palace of meaty Mexican goodness known as La Taqueria. You will get a fuckload of meat and salsa, and sometimes that's all you really want…though, of course, you can always go super. Just beware of the long lines—the city has long since caught word of the taco and burrito wizardry happening here, but the hype hasn't subsided.
El Castillito: As with many SF taquerias, there are a few locations of this one, but the El Castillito on Church and Market reigns superior. The burritos are well-proportioned, with great carne asada and carnitas, perfectly wrapped in foil, and ready to bring to bed after a night of drinking at Blackbird.
Pancho Villa: Their burritos are perfect for vegetarians and vegans who want more meatless options than they know what to do with. They also have the best salsa bar in the Mission, killer horchata, and a rotating selection of fresh aguas frescas.
Taqueria Cancun: A formidable contender in the Mission burrito game since 1993, forever full of people who got kicked out of Beauty Bar (Mission and 19th. St location) and members of garage bands (Mission and Fair location), Taqueria Cancun has a phenomenal shrimp quesadilla that's their best-kept secret—it heals any and all hangovers. But, their al pastor and super vegetarian burritos are also consistently amazing, and they have the awards all over their walls to prove that they kill it.
Little Chihuahua: This taqueria runs a little pricier than others, but it's worth it if you get their only menu item that really, really matters: the fried plantain & black bean burrito. It's so umami, sweet, smoky, cheesy, and rich as fuck, all at the same time. Also a good spot if you're craving Mexican food at brunch time.
Taqueria Guadalajara: Out in the Excelsior, the locals keep shit authentic, and Guadalajara demonstrates that. If you're not in a burrito mood, try a super quesadilla in one of their spinach tortillas. It also doesn't hurt that there are a ton of pot dispensaries nearby.
Papalote: Many would argue that Papalote is on the "whiter" side of the Mission District in terms of its food and its clientele, but that creamy, orange roasted-tomato salsa does not fucking quit. It once DESTROYED Bobby Flay in an episode of Throwdown, and it deserved the hard win.
For 100+ more tips on where to hang and what to eat and drink while in the City by the Bay, check out the rest of the MUNCHIES Guide to San Francisco.
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