A Foodie Blog's Guide To The Best Burritos In California

No U.S. state makes a burrito as well as California, except possibly Colorado. Over the past decades, the idea of the burrito has developed from a cheaply produced street food to an inventive staple of every vaguely Mexican restaurant throughout the state.

California has even been credited with inventing multiple different styles of burritos of their own. The Mission Style burrito was first recognized in the Mission District of San Francisco in the late 1960s. These supersized burritos are characterized by their large flour tortilla and extra ingredients including cheese, sour cream, and avocado. Think of your typical burrito from Chipotle, perfectly folded. Later, in the 1980s, several restaurants in San Diego were credited with introducing french fries to the burrito and fittingly coined it The California Burrito.

As more restaurants rushed to roll these mouthwatering meals, some burritos at select restaurants stood out as the best of the best. Through a lot of research and a little personal experience, I've compiled a list of the 11 best burritos you can get in restaurants around California.

1. Mar y Tierra - Sonorita's Prime Tacos, Los Angeles

Sonoritas Prime Taco

(213) 275-1826

1050 Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

You can't go wrong with anything on Sonorita's Prime Tacos menu, which made our list of the 20 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles. But, at this trendy taco and burrito shop, the specialty Mar y Tierra burrito has people coming back time and time again.

The Mar y Tierra (or surf and turf) burrito is the best of both worlds — topped with charred spicy grilled shrimp and tender Angus beef. And, they don't skimp on the guacamole, Sonorita's signature addition to any of their burritos. Despite the hefty fillings in these mission-style burritos, the flour tortilla remains delicate and soft to the touch. 

Inside the burrito, hidden beneath the hearty layers of meats and guacamole, are the more traditional ingredients of rice, beans, pico de gallo, cheese, and chipotle mayo. These burritos are massive, almost enough to split between two people. That's especially true if you're getting extra chips and guac on the side. This burrito is a personal favorite in the state and it'll soon be one of yours, too. 

2. Grilled Cheese Burrito - La Vaca Birria, San Francisco

La Vaca Birria

(415) 780-3811

2962 24th St., San Francisco, CA 94110

La Vaca Birria is a relatively new restaurant in San Francisco specializing in birria, taking the stewed beef a step further by cooking it over a charcoal grill. Grilling this tender, juicy shredded meat gives it a charred flavor that perfectly compliments their grilled cheese burrito.

The mission-style burritos at La Vaca Birria are made with massive tortillas rendered in beef tallow, giving them a more savory and meaty flavor. Their grilled cheese burrito takes everything in the super burrito (including rice, beans, cheese, guacamole, and crema) and adds a crispy, cheesy layer inside the tortilla for more crunch in each bite.  

While the crispy cheese skirt is the best part of this burrito, the meaty filling comes in a close second. The grilled cheese burrito with birria stands out among their many meat options, but if you're not willing to shell out the extra $2 for birria their standard carne asada or pollo asado are also both great choices. 

For vegetarian options, La Vaca Birria also offers a popular oyster mushroom burrito. It has all the fixings of the super burrito but with salsa macha and a flour tortilla not rendered in beef tallow. To make this burrito vegan, be sure to remove the cheese.

3. Surfin' California - Lucha Libre Gourmet Tacos, San Diego

Lucha Libre

(619) 296-8226

1810 W. Washington Street, San Diego, CA 92103

San Diego's proximity to the ocean and the Mexican border means it's in the perfect spot to have some of the best seafood burritos in the world. The Surfin' California from Lucha Libre might be just that. 

Eating this burrito, stuffed with steak, shrimp, french fries, Pico de Gallo, cheese, avocado, and a secret chipotle sauce, is a feat in and of itself. It was once even featured on the TV show "Man v. Food", a testament to the heartiness of this California-style burrito.

Lucha Libre perfects this version of the California burrito, using the saltiness and slightly crunchy texture of french fries to augment the flavor fiesta of meat and seafood wrapped up neatly in the flour tortilla. But, if fries aren't your thing, go for the grilled shrimp seafood burrito instead.

4. Sumo Crunch - Sushirrito, San Francisco

Sushirrito

(415) 544-9868

226 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Few inventions changed the modern world like the sushi burrito, made and patented in 2008 by the owners of the now thriving Sushirrito chain. While certainly a unique feature on this list — and admittedly less traditional than its Mexican counterparts — the sushi burrito is a meal everybody should try at least once. A little crunchy, a little spicy, and certainly a little fishy — the sumo crunch at Sushiritto is the sushi burrito at its best.

It's filled with delectable shrimp tempura and imitation crab, and rolled in a layer of rice, wrapped in a sheet of nori covered with spicy red tempura flakes reminiscent of a Flamin' Hot Cheeto. Warm rice surrounds the cold cucumbers and fillings, giving a pleasurable mouthfeel with a mix of temperatures and flavors. 

If you're already a sushi fan, their simpler menu items such as the geisha's kiss with yellowfin tuna, or the Latin ninja with raw salmon poke are also strong options. The fish is always fresh, and you won't forget one of these novelty burritos — whichever you choose. The original location is in the heart of San Francisco, but now with several locations around the Bay area, including San Jose, sushi burritos are certainly becoming more popular.

5. Combo Red or Green - Lupe's #2, Los Angeles

Lupe's #2

(323) 266-6881

4642 E. 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90022

Lupe's #2 is an often overlooked counter service shop in East Los Angeles. Sitting outside on one of their few picnic benches, you'll see a sign overhead that reads "specializing in 12 kinds of burritos." While you can't trust everything you see in LA, it's safe to say you'll love any of the Chicano-style burritos at Lupe's #2. 

The combo burrito — either red or green — reigns supreme. Stuffed with a stew of meat, beans, cheese, and chile, this tender burrito mixes flavors and textures wonderfully for a perfect bite from the beginning to the butt. Opt for their red sauce if you like spice, but their milder green combo is just as delicious.

Lupe's has been around for over 50 years, with very few changes to their menu or mode of operation since it opened. Though it doesn't look like much from the outside, this burrito shack has gained acclaim from restauranteurs and LA greats like Jonathan Gold. The famed food writer once described the burritos at Lupe's #2 more eloquently than I ever could, "A burrito is the crackly skinned marvel at Lupe's #2, filled to order while the tortilla is still on the griddle so that it develops both intense toasted-grain flavor and spurting fumaroles of spicy beef stew if you are so bold as to slide it out of its paper wrapper as you eat," (via Eater Los Angeles).

6. Cali Burrito - Mike's Red Tacos, San Diego

Mike's Red Tacos

(858) 737-4299

4310 Genesee Ave ste 104, San Diego, CA 92117

This trendy taco shop in San Diego is popular for its steamy, cheesy Birria ramen — a delectable soup for any time of year. On the more traditional Mexican side of the menu, Mike's tacos and burritos are soft, delicate, and delicious. But, despite how good they are naked, nothing beats a Mike's Red Cali Burrito dipped in a hot cup of consommé. 

Mike's prepares melty, cheesy burritos stuffed with ingredients that can't help but fall out of the bottom. Try to keep your fries, beef birria, guacamole, sour cream, rice, and lots of red onions intact as you devour one of these heaven-sent burritos. The tortilla is lightly toasted, which means it won't disintegrate away once dipped in the warm, savory broth of the consommé. And, the birria is fall-off-the-bone tender having been soaked in a spicy, vibrant red sauce. 

Starting as a simple food truck, Mike's Red Tacos worked to achieve its first brick-and-mortar in the Clairemont area of San Diego. They first opened in August 2022, and now just a few years later the taco shop is ranked on Yelp's top 100 places to eat in the U.S. One Instagram user raved, "Your food is soooo good. I drool every time I see your posts." Once you've tried it, we think you'll agree.

7. Bosses Burrito - Taqueria el Farolito, San Francisco

Taqueria El Farolito

(415) 824-7877

2779 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94110

If there's only one spot on this list you must try, it's probably Taqueria el Farolito. Don't be fooled by its minimal outward appearance, this small taqueria is voted time and time again not only the best burrito in San Francisco, but in all of California. 

Whatever you order is bound to be good, but the specialty Bosses Burrito  comes with everything you could ask for in a burrito: al pastor, shrimp, refried beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, avocado, pico de gallo, and salsa tomatillo. These are massive mission-style burritos with large chunks of meat and a delicate tortilla – either flour, wheat, or spinach. The added shrimp gives the burrito a nice unexpected crispiness. As one satisfied customer said on Yelp, "The Boss burrito was simply that. BOSS."

El Farolito has been a part of the Mission District since 1982, and has been perfecting the burrito ever since. Open late with limited seating, El Farolito remains a Mission District hot spot. They're cash only, so hit up an ATM before grabbing the best burrito in town. 

8. Super Burrito - La Taqueria, San Francisco

La Taqueria

(415) 285-7117

2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Rated the best burrito spot in the world by the election predictors over at FiveThirtyEight, this classic mission-style burrito is no joke. Take the name super burrito literally — you'll need two hands and potentially a fork to finish this meal. 

The menu at La Taqueria in the Mission district of San Francisco is simple with no wrong choices. Their signature super burrito comes with your choice of meat or you can keep it veggie. You can choose between refried beans and pinto beans, but the extra avocado is a must. 

La Taqueria doesn't mess with the classics. Suppose you're in the mood for a simple, classic burrito. In that case, it doesn't get better than La Taqueria and you always know what you're getting: quality, authentic Mexican-style burritos with heaps of chunked meat and a perfectly toasted flour tortilla. Choose from carne asada or carnitas, mixed with sour cream, beans, cheese, and guacamole. It's one of those burritos you'll struggle to keep within the aluminum foil wrapper, just as a perfect burrito is meant to be enjoyed. One fan couldn't keep their excitement inside and raved on Instagram, "I'm officially drooling and craving this dish at the same time!"

9. Burrito 2.0 - Sonoratown, Los Angeles

Sonoratown

(213) 222-5071

208 E 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014

The authentic northern Mexican burritos from Sonoratown are some of the best and most popular in Los Angeles. Located in a small building with a big personality, Sonoratown is always busy, no matter the time of day, with people craving to get their hands on the burrito 2.0. Fight the crowd, order at the counter, and grab a spot outside — if you're lucky enough to find a table to enjoy your burrito and agua fresca. 

Their menu is simple, containing only two types of burritos: the burrito 2.0 comes with your choice of protein. Their costilla, or steak, protein is a personal favorite, but the chorizo is also an excellent choice. More compact but as hearty as the other burritos on this list, the burrito 2.0 comes with chunky guacamole, Monterey Jack cheese, pinto beans, and chiltepin salsa. Add a grilled poblano chile pepper to your order if you're up for some spice. The pepper adds a layer of smokiness that pairs perfectly with the pinto beans and extra spicy salsa.

At just over $12 a burrito, they're also one of the more affordable on this list. Even better for a quick and cheap midday snack, Sonoratown's mini bean and cheese burrito is only $4 a pop — a steal doused with spicy red salsa and wrapped in a flour tortilla. 

10. Pastor Burrito - Maiz Picante, Santa Barbara

Maiz Picante

(805) 586 -2272

2714 De La Vina st, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Maiz Picante is a small taqueria in Santa Barbara that opened a year ago in February 2023. Though they specialize in tacos, many early reviewers (on Yelp and Google, at least) are switching allegiance and saying this is the best burrito they've ever had. One reviewer wrote on Yelp, "Best burrito I've ever had! Consistently amazing." 

Their burrito comes with beans, melted cheese, and your choice from a large selection of meats. The carnitas and sirloin are both popular options. It's hard to resist their fresh al pastor, marinated in their homemade adobo before being roasted on a spit and sliced directly into your flour tortilla burrito. Al pastor is a cut of pork — typically pork shoulder — seasoned in aromatics and fresh dried chilis, preferably adobo. 

Maiz Picante has several vegetarian burrito options, including Beyond steak or pastor and roasted veggies. With bell peppers, onions, and potatoes, the roasted veggie burrito is hearty and flavorful. Whatever you pick, Maiz Picante burritos also come in a bite-size "kids burrito" version.

11. Super Burrito - La Victoria Taqueria, San Jose

La Victoria Taqueria

(408) 298-5335

140 E. San Carlos St., San Jose, CA 95112

Burritos from La Victoria Taqueria are hearty, stuffed with beans, rice, salsa, and your choice of meat. You'll want to add the sour cream, cheese, and guacamole to the super burrito for the maximum experience. But, their famous orange sauce alone could have you coming back again and again.

The super burrito at La Victoria is a must-try because the chain has perfected the fast-casual approach to a traditional taqueria. You know exactly what you're getting every time you go: a quality meal with fresh ingredients and a unique flavor profile.

This historic chain throughout San Jose has found success due to their consistently top-notch burritos and orange sauce. It started on a whim in the late '90s, and now almost 30 years later orange sauce is bottled and smothered on hundreds, if not thousands, of burritos around the state. Only a handful of people know what's in the sauce as the recipe is a closely guarded trade secret. But, upon sampling you may notice it's a little spicy, garlicky, and reminiscent of adobo pepper or a Portuguese Mozambique sauce, and so much more. 

If all this burrito talk is getting you hungry why one make one at home, but don't forget these 14 tips. And, if you're putting ground beef in your burrito try and avoid these 10 mistakes everyone makes

Methodology

To search out the most sumptuous burritos across the Golden State, it's fair to say we undertook a decent amount of personal "research." All in the name of finding the best Cali burrito, of course. 

We also scoured the internet for relevant articles from reputable publications and food authors to bolster the information in this piece. Searching out other burrito enthusiasts on the web and what they had to say also helped shape the content of this list. 

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