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Mission-Style Burritos

Updated on June 17, 2014
relache profile image

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.

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

Tell us about your favorite burrito!

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

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

    • Michael Willis profile image

      Michael Willis 

      8 years ago from Arkansas

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

    • relache profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Seattle, WA

      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...

    • relache profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Seattle, WA

      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?

    • profile image

      Chris B 

      12 years ago

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

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      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!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      12 years ago from San Francisco

      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 profile image


      12 years ago

      interesting close up of the inside of the burrito.

    • relache profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Seattle, WA

      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 profile image

      Paul Edmondson 

      12 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      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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