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Mission-Style Burritos

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Raye gardens organically, harvests rainwater, strives to eat locally, and honors the gods from her home in the Pacific Northwest.

Presenting... the Mission-Style Burrito

Up-close and personal with a Mission-style burrito.  This one looks veggie.

Up-close and personal with a Mission-style burrito. This one looks veggie.


The Eating Goodness that is a Mission-Style Burrito

You won't find burritos like this in Mexico. They are a variation that was born and bred in the Mexican-influenced Mission District of San Francisco. This is the fuel that gets a bike messenger up San Francisco hills all day long. This is what gets the local college students through the night.

To create a Mission-style burrito start with a large flour tortilla. Add rice and beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, hot peppers (if you wish), choice of meat or not and roll that bad boy up so it's about the size of the average adult's forearm. You don't usually eat Mission-style burritos if you're not that hungry, although that second half can make for some great leftovers later. Watch out as the "regular" size tends to be big and the "super" size tends to be enormous.

Everyone in town has their favorite haunt and favorite burritos so be ready to do a lot of tasting if you set out to find your true ideal.

Some Burrito Basics

  • San Francisco burrito - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The city's Mission District is the birthplace of this type of burrito. The San Francisco burrito is distinguished partly by the amount of rice and other side dishes included in the package and partly by sheer size.
  • Burrito - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    A burrito is a Mexican dish consisting of a flour tortilla usually filled with meat such as beef, chicken, or pork.
  • Burrito Blog
    This is a very serious and info packed blog, all about burritos. Serious taqueria links.
    San Francisco's top resource for taquerias and mustaches. Over 150 San Francisco restaurants, diners, eateries and burritos joints have been reviewed here.

Burrito Cookbooks

Could You Handle The Super Burrito?

What To Look For In A "Real" Mission-style

Here are some qualities that I think are essential to a good Mission-style burrito. Most Mission-style that go bad have missed a few of these things.

Beans - you should have a choice: re-fried, black or pinto. And they shouldn't have a smokey or barbecue aftertaste to them.

Moist, not wet - too many bad burritos are really wet and drippy. The beans should be drained well and the salsa shouldn't be swimming. You should be able to eat a burrito in your hands without juices flowing out of them. Also, the rice should be moist, not crunchy and dried-out.

Tightly-wrapped - the correct shape for a Mission-style burrito is a really tightly-rolled log. Too many burrito jockeys roll them too loosely, or just sort of fold over the tortilla. If your Mission-style burrito has been rolled up properly, you can eat it sitting on a park bench or while walking without it coming apart on you. You should be able to slowly peel away bits of the foil outer wrappping and eat your way down.

Correct proportioning of ingredients - first the rice, then the beans, then lettuce, then salsa, guacamole, sour cream and whatever else. When tightly rolled, this puts the wetter ingredients in the middle of the burrito with the more absorbing ones on the outside. Tightly-rolled, this is what makes for a well-shaped and non-dripping burrito. You don't want the salsa, guacamole and sour cream to be on the outside as they immediately escape as you peel back the foil. Also, the wetter toppings should not be added in the same amounts as the drier ones. They should accent the flavors, not make up the bulk of the filling.

Do you like your burrito wet or dry?

Dry = salsa inside the burrito, Wet = salsa on top

Dry = salsa inside the burrito, Wet = salsa on top

In Search of Good Mission-style...

The Infamous and Famous Mission-Style Burrito

  • Burritophile
    The Burritophiles pontificate about all things burrito.
  • Battle of the Burritos, Bay Area style
    What's your favorite burrito place in the Bay Area and why?
  • Mission Burritos - Fresh Fast Food
    At Mission Burritos we serve the freshest, highest quality ingredients in our burritos and other recipes. We use no lard, MSG or preservatives and use as little oil as possible while maintaining the integrity of all items. We promise to give you th
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Tell us about your favorite burrito!

SilverGenes on June 10, 2010:

Burritos are so good! I've never heard of the Mission burrito but just may try building one at home :-)

Michael Willis from Arkansas on December 21, 2009:

I love good burritos. I will have to make this one. Thanks for the instructions on how to layer the ingredients also.

Raye (author) from Seattle, WA on December 21, 2006:

I'm going to be back in the Bay Area in mid February 2007! Ok, burritos just went to the top of the "to do" list for the trip...

Raye (author) from Seattle, WA on December 09, 2006:

If there's one thing that I find a burrito place gets wrong about Mission Style, it's the rice. Anyone else find this to be true?

Chris B on September 25, 2006:

Here's a link about tortilla steamers, if you want to know abou the apparatus that Mission burrito joints use to steam their toritllas.

Chris on August 26, 2006:

Man, how great to find this page! I live in Albuquerque now, which you'd THINK would have good burritos... That is, you would if you didn't know better. I lived in SF for many years and became completely in love with them-- cheap + fast + healthy + good + interesting. I could eat one for lunch practically every day for years and not get tired of them. Sadly, nobody here even understands what they're missing!

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on August 23, 2006:

My faves are Taqueria Cancun (Mission) and El Castillito in the Castro....although... chains Una Mas, Chipotle and Baja Fresh serve up decent fare as well (in that order).

sarahd on August 23, 2006:

interesting close up of the inside of the burrito.

Raye (author) from Seattle, WA on August 17, 2006:

I had a lot of burrito faves after living all over town. There was El Nopalito on Sutter when I was in grad school, then a place on Noriega off 19th (now gone) and then La Avenida on Irving near 6th.

Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on August 16, 2006:

We're big burrito fans in San Francisco. Most frequently we hit El Taqueria in the Mission, but I'm not sure if that is a Mission Style Burrito. Either way it's very good.

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