There’s not necessarily a ton of new ground to cover in the ongoing and comprehensive best burrito debate. It’s been vigorously discussed by both respected publications and drunk college kids for years.

But if you’re not sure where to start in the Great Bay Area Burrito conversation or you just want a primer, here are 13 places that should keep you full and whet your appetite for more. If we missed your favorite burrito share it in the comments.

La Taqueria
La Taqueria (Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

San Francisco

  • La Taqueria (Mission): No, it’s not exactly under-the-radar. It even won FiveThirtyEight’s “best burrito in America” title after an extensive bracket and contest, but there’s a reason for that. La Taq is the grandaddy of the Mission-style burrito. Stand in line, bring cash, and enjoy your carne asada (though there are also vocal advocates of the carnitas).
  • El Farolito (Mission): It’s likely you already have an opinion in the best of the Mission burritos debate — maybe you’re a fan of Pancho Villa or Cancun or Guadalajara — but it’s hard to ignore the two biggest players in the game and one of those is El Farolito. It may be a favorite of 1 a.m. drunks, but even sober the meat is juicy, the toppings plentiful, and the salsa fresh. Here it’s all about the al pastor.
  • Papalote Mexican Grill (Mission and Western Addition): The original Papalote was so popular — particularly after an appearance on Throwdown with Bobby Flay — that it expanded to the Western Addition. At both locations it’s all about the salsa. Slather some on top of your Triple Threat Burrito — marinated chicken, prawns, and carne asada — and you’ll have a quintessential San Franciscan meal.
  • HRD Coffee Shop (SoMA): It’s not exactly a traditional burrito with its Korean mash-up, but it is a popular one. The specialty is the smothered burritos with shrimp katsu, but the crowd favorite is the kimchee burrito with spicy pork or bulgogi beef.
Taqueria San Jose
Taqueria San Jose (Courtesy of Taqueria San Jose)

North Bay

  • Sonoma Taco Shop (San Rafael): Sonoma may not be as well known as some of the other local favorites, but among its fans it’s known for the fresh ingredients. The popular Santa Rosa location closed earlier this year, but if you’re in the North Bay then you want to stop at the San Rafael taqueria for a California-infused Mexican meal. It’s won awards for its fresh and healthy ingredients.
  • Taqueria San Jose (San Rafael): If you’re a vegetarian, this isn’t necessarily the place for you. Tucked under the freeway, San Jose is really about the meat, and lots of it — though you won’t want to skip the salsa bar either. Among locals it’s a favorite, especially with the nearby high school students.
  • Grilly’s (Mill Valley and Fairfax): A distinctly Marin take on Mexican, Grilly’s has its devotees. Fresh fish tacos and huge chicken taco salads (along with agua fresca) may be what it’s best known for, but the sauteed shrimp burrito with mango salsa isn’t bad either. Think of this less as a late-night taqueria and more as a family-oriented community restaurant.
Picante's burrito platter
Picante’s burrito platter (Courtesy of Picante)

East Bay

  • Gordo Taqueria (San Francisco, Albany, Berkeley): With three locations in the city and three in the East Bay, Gordo’s has a steady customer base and a healthy reputation for churning out top-end Mexican food. Start at the Albany shop. The burritos are big, the flavors are fresh, and add hot sauce.
  • Picante (Berkeley): The idea with the primarily organic food at Picante is that there’s something from every part of Mexico. And it’s all made fresh daily, down to the corn tortillas — which you can watch being cooked and grab hot. The vegetarian menu is also extensive. Sit outside on the patio with your burrito and a 100% agave tequila margarita.
  • 3 Hermanas Mexican Home Cooking (Richmond): A sit-down restaurant in Richmond, 3 Hermanas is run by three women who cook up the food as you order. It may not be as trendy as taquerias on the other side of the water, but if you want authentic burritos try the desebrada (shredded beef).
Iguana’s (Courtesy of Iguana's)

South Bay

  • Iguana’s (San Jose): Home to the famous “burritozilla,” Iguana’s was featured on Travel Channel’s Man v. Food for its five-pound monster burrito. Can you take it down? Or, if you’d rather a more reasonable sized meal, the family recipe al pastor keeps people coming back for many smaller bites.
  • Dia di Pesca (San Jose): It’s right there in the name: this place does seafood right. The specialty is fish tacos, but it didn’t expand from a food stand to a brick-and-mortar restaurant on the basis of one dish. The burritos are also delicious, with local and sustainably-sourced ingredients inside — including sliced cucumbers and grilled peppers.
  • Taqueria La Bamba (Mountain View): Since the 1980s, La Bamba has been a South Bay staple. At one point it had three locations, but was forced to move from its original spot and consolidate. The food, though, hasn’t lost any of its luster. The restaurant offers both Mexican and Salvadoran food. You come for the fresh tortillas and salsa. You stay because you’re too full to leave.
Bay Area Bites Guide to 13 Favorite Burrito Spots 24 March,2017Kelly O'Mara
  • sfmitch

    I’m glad you have Taqueria San Jose on the list. I love anything with their Carnitas in it. Also, I recommend mixing red and green salsa 50/50. So good.

  • Compassion HQ

    You’re supposed to smother burritos in chili verde, not enchilada sauce, good grief.

  • Richard Rothman

    You need a new reviewer. There good Burrito in the outer Richmond. Why should I give money to KQED when the do know were the best burritio are located

  • Abhay

    Nothing on the Peninsula?

  • Kevin Besnyi

    Kalafia in Alameda #1. They also have the best nachos in the Bay

  • Jasmine

    Casa De Mesa on Stevenson in Fremont. Owner of always there, super friendly and will remember you after one time of coming in. Fresh, minimal grease, cheap. And best part is everything on the menu used super yummy!!!!

  • disqdude

    The two Berkeley entries are a joke. They’re both pretty average, even by low Berkeley standards. You might as well eat at Chipotle.

    As for Iguana’s, it’s good…I suppose. But I’d rather walk around the corner and get something from La Victoria.

  • trung nguyen

    tres hermanas if a really good mexican restaurant but i would be embarrassed to order a burrito there. I’m sure the burritos are great but its probably the worst thing on the menu. if you go order mexican food not american food (aka a burrito).

    just saying

  • Ed Coffey

    Disappointed that the peninsula, especially in some of our small coastal towns, got completely passed over. There are some award winning jems in places like Pescadero and Pacifica.

  • Teej

    No burritos in the East Bay (which includes ALL of Alameda County) worth mentioning south of Berkeley? How about you just stick to Barney reruns and antiquing guides and leave this sorta thing to the pros?

  • John Wallace

    One of the best listed for the East Bay, doesn’t even make the SF list, even though we have the same taqueria here.

  • Lindol French

    The Peninsula is grossly under-represented. Farolita and La Taq are correct, however.

  • Shelby

    Yeah…where’s the peninsula?


Kelly O'Mara

Kelly O'Mara is a writer and reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes about food, health, sports, travel, business and California news. Her work has appeared on KQED, online for Outside Magazine, epsnW, VICE and in Competitor Magazine, among others. Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellydomara.

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