San Francisco: A shorthand guide to burritos

Courtesy rick/Flickr

I consider it blasphemous to visit San Francisco without eating a burrito. The best taquerias in town are in the Mission District (near the 16th street and 24th street BART stations). But for out-of-towners, the giant menu on the wall behind the counter can be intimidating (even for avid Chipotle eaters!) I'll often see a local offering up advice to travelers while standing in line, so consider this my ultimate primer to all you future visitors to my city.

When ordering, choose a meat (see below) or go vegetarian, then a type of bean (pinto, black, or refried), salsa (spicy or regular) and then decide to stay "regular" (meat, beans, rice, and salsa) or upgrade to the "super," which adds cheese, sour cream, and guacamole or slices of avocado.

Seems simple, right? What usually confuses non-locals are the additional terms people throw out to customize their burrito—as in "Super, no sour cream" or "regular with cheese." But go ahead, try it! You'll feel like a local in no time.

As a side note, the usual meat options are: carne asada (thinly sliced beef), pollo (chicken, either regular or grilled, which is called pollo asado), carnitas (chopped pork cooked in its own fat, seasoned to be sweet and spicy), al pastor (rotisserie-style pork), chile verde (pork or chicken cooked, stew-like, in a green salsa like stew) and chorizo (spicy Mexican sausage). And for the brave: lengua (beef tongue) and sesos (beef brains).

And a warning to vegetarians and vegans—at most traditional Mexican taquerias, the rice and refried beans are almost always cooked in lard, a fact most local vegetarians tend to play ignorant about.

Wash your burrito down with a cold drink, such as horchata (a divine milk-based drink with cinnamon).


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