Chicago Burritos: My list

I love burritos. Friends and colleagues have heard about my burrito list, but I haven’t yet shared it with anyone. I’ve had burritos from more places than I’ve listed here. As the “project” isn’t much of a project, I don’t keep good track of my ingestion adventures.

Test: Steak burrito with “everything,” sometimes called a super burrito. There are three ratings that result from this project: Special, Nothing Special, and Blech. I think a restaurant has to try hard to get a “Blech” rating. This usually means that the burrito had little taste and is worse than Taco Bell, or that sanitation practices were poor. Nothing Special means that the burrito was acceptable, I would eat it again, and it’s “average.” Special means the burrito stands out for some reason (hopefully noted).

  1. Taco Burrito King – blech. Note: This used to be a special place their burritos are good, and they are cheap. But I observed too many times poor sanitation practices (at their Jackson and Halsted location). Looking back, I should have reported them, but now I haven’t gone in there in over two years, so I don’t know if anything is different or if it remained the same.
  2. Taco Burrito House – special
  3. Burrito Beach – blech
  4. La Bamba – blech
  5. La Cebollita – special
  6. Perez Restaurant – special – $5.75 – 1:great, 2:yes, 3:good, 4:good
  7. Los Comales – nothing special
  8. La Cocina – nothing special, very salty (and therefore tasty)
  9. La Esperanza (on Blue Island) – nothing special 5.50+tax
  10. La Pasadita – can’t remember, needs a redo
  11. De Pasada (on Taylor St) – “super burrito” – $6.25 – 1:good, 2:yes (not the second time I went there), 3:great, 4:acceptable – They add rice (which is good). The lettuce seems precut, prepared off site. They put sour cream. Their salsa is good. I like the combination of large and small pieces of meat. Result: Special
  12. Mexico Steak House (Archer) – 1: good
  13. Taqueria San Jose (Halsted in Bridgeport) – $6.20 – 1: good, 2: no, 3: appropriate but diced too small, 4: acceptable – comes with peas (blech), and a little guac
  14. Place on 35th
  15. Enderia? on Halsted
  16. El Chisme (on 26th near Pulaski) – didn’t have burrito, but had a chicken Taco which was freaking delicious restaurant seems like it has great quality, and exhibits good sanitation practices
  17. Place on Halsted at 17th – nothing special, $5.23, excellently-seasoned meat, onion chunks (good)

Tests are based on:

  1. Cleanliness of restaurant, including observed sanitation practices
  2. Is burrito grilled?
  3. Amount of meat in relation to vegetables
  4. Price

Homemade burritoSometimes I make my own burritos.

I really like burritos. I really like carne asada. So far in my 3 years in Chicago, I’ve eaten burritos from at least 17 restaurants (I ate only a taco at one of the above listed restaurants, but they also sell burritos).

It’s not a very objective scale or rating system at the moment; I’m still working on that. This means I don’t use a score sheet or some other method that would keep the scoring fair and objective.

But, subjectively, this is how I rate Perez Restaurant in Pilsen:

  1. Cleanliness and Sanitation – Outstanding. The bar is always clean. From the barstool, the stainless steel at the prep counter is spotless. From the same vantage point, the cooking area also looks spotless. I worked in food service for 6 years and I was a “certified food service sanitation” manager (woot!).
  2. Grilling – Perez does spend a little extra time grilling the tortilla so it’s a little brown on the top and bottom. This makes the tortilla a little crispy, hotter, but also helps hold the burrito together better.
  3. Meat vs. Vegetables – I think the Perez ratio of meat to vegetables is good. I would like a few more tomatoes, but compared to other restaurants Perez is in the top quartile of restaurants meeting my preferred meat to vegetables ratio.
  4. Price – Under $6 (without tax) for all of the above? Excellent!

I haven’t tried Perez’s other location on Randolph, and I don’t plan on it because I never travel in that area. I ride my bike through Pilsen twice a day and I love stopping at Perez on my way home.

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