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Burrito tour through San Francisco—my search for the city’s best burrito

During my short visit to San Francisco, I gave myself one priority: eat a San Francisco-style burrito. I’ve heard of these things for years but never had the opportunity to try one. There’s a burrito restaurant in Berlin that’s famous for them, but I wanted the real thing.

So, after being in San Francisco for less than a few hours, I set out on a quest to find the best burrito in SF. Thanks to some suggestions on the Travels of Adam Facebook page, I went straight for the Mission.

Taqueria La Cumbre

This is the taqueria that made burritos famous in San Francisco. They’re credited with inventing the style which is basically a massive (and often messy) burrito.

I went inside Taqueria La Cumbre and immediately recognized the look. This is the typical American burrito restaurant I remember from my days back in Boston where I spent about half my weekly food expenditures at Anna’s Taqueria.

The burrito came with a healthy chunk of tortilla chips which was nice. Little did I know that this is par-for-the-course in San Francisco. I went with my staple burrito: black beans & rice, with pork, guacamole, sour cream and jalapeños. It was big. And I mean very BIG. But still manageable.

Burrito score: ★
515 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA

Papalote burrito


Thanks to a tip from Fluent in Frolicking (@MasterFrolicker), I went straight to Papalote for lunch on my second day in San Francisco. Papalote was much more crowded than Taqueria La Cumbre. I went with the same burrito as before and it was equally delicious but much more messy. It fell apart about halfway through but I still managed.

The best part of my Papalote burrito, however, was that it came with a side of salsa. And this salsa was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. No joke. I’m not sure what they put in their salsa but considering that they sell jars of it in the store, I’m guessing others have found it equally addicting.

Burrito score: ★
Salsa score: 
3409 24th Street (at Valencia), San Francisco, CA

And just because the salsa was so delicious, here’s a photo:

papalote salsa yummy

  1. David @ That Gay Backpacker says:

    Bloody love a burrito. There is virtually no Mexican population here in the UK so the Mexican food tends to be pretty gash.

  2. Alexandra says:

    Thanks for the mention! I’m back in Europe after Morocco and damn you now I’m craving Papalote Salsa! I’m heading to hamburg for December. Plan to make it to Berlin and this time we are going out for a burrito!

  3. Sofie says:

    Hmmmm, burritos:-)

  4. Dean says:

    Yummm. There’s little better than a good Burrito. These look delicious!

  5. YUM! Burritos have quickly become one of my favorite foods. What I love about them is that the taste is always a surprise. Everyone makes a burrito differently!

    • Adam says:

      Oh yes – that’s definitely true, Kae. Everyone makes their burritos differently. And you can always customize them each time with your own ingredients, too.

  6. Rig says:

    Adam: The burrito with a portion of tortilla chips is my delicious dish and this is also true that everyone makes a burrito differently. My mouth has watered after going through your article especially viewing the pictures.

  7. Amanda says:

    I regret not having a Mission burrito when I was in SF earlier this year! These ones look delicious!

  8. Jackie D says:

    Mexican food is always what I miss the most when I’m traveling abroad. California’s is obviously delish but Chicago also has shockingly good Mexican food — I was so pleasantly surprised when I moved here.

    • Adam says:

      Not surprised to hear Chicago has decent Mexican food! One of my all-time favorite burritos comes from a local place in Boston, rather than Texas where I grew up :)

  9. […] Read more here –> Burrito Tour: my search for the city’s best burrito […]

  10. Mmmmm, burrrrritos: the ones you’ve highlighted in the Mission look so damn good. I now have a craving to return to San Francisco *and* to the taquerias in Mexico City … hungy!

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