La Taqueria in San Francisco has won America’s Best Burrito, following a year-long contest by FiveThirtyEight.com, which evaluated 67,391 burrito-selling establishments. The noted site huddled with food experts and selected 64 of the nation’s finest burritos to compete in the search for America’s best burrito. Since then, burrito correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester has traveled more than 20,000 miles around the United States and eaten 84 burritos in two rounds (to say nothing of the dozens of extracurricular burritos polished off).
She journeyed from Key West to Hawaii in search of gastronomic nirvana. She snarfed breakfast burritos, burritos with french fries, and an avant-garde burrito stuffed with Cap’n Crunch-encrusted tilapia. She gobbled burritos from trucks, stands and brick-and-mortar establishments (not to mention a couple of vending machines). She bought a six pack of burritos in New Mexico for $11 and a haute burrito in Phoenix for $18.50.
During the Burrito Selection Committee meeting in the spring, both celebrity chef David Chang and Mexican food expert Gustavo Arellano named San Francisco’s La Taqueria as the favorite to win the whole tournament. This burrito’s construction sets it apart. Like many Mission Street burritos, it is prepared assembly line-style; the sour cream is added liberally from a squirt bottle, guacamole comes by the spoonful from an enormous metal bowl, pico de gallo and all its juices are added at the end. But unlike at other taquerias, each ingredient keeps its juices, making this burrito saucy in form and personality (the absence of rice also makes it noteworthy among its neighbors).
After her first visit, Barry-Jester “received emails from several kind readers who, having noted her preference for griddled burritos, alerted me that La Taqueria has a menu secreto. It includes burritos “dorados,” La Taqueria’s signature torpedo-like bundles thrown on the griddle until they’re brown and bubbly all the way around.” For a final visit, Barry-Jester decided to order two carnitas burritos, one super, one super dorado. Her conclusion? No need to choose a favorite — always get one of each.