The Search for the Perfect Burrito


Palo Alto has a lot of burrito options, and we don’t presume to tell you where you can find the absolutely best burrito. However, we will offer you our insights on several burrito options around here, from several popular chains to truly local eateries.

Chipotle

This popular Mexican restaurant chain, with locations throughout the country, offers a decently-portioned burrito basic burrito as well as a fajita burrito (peppers and onions instead of beans) and a burrito bowl (no tortilla).

We found Chipotle’s standard burrito, which comes with rice, beans, meat, salsa, cheese, and lettuce, very satisfying. The chicken, steak, carnitas (braised pork), and barbacoa (shredded beef) options were all flavorful but not overpowering, and the vegetarian option is also full of flavor with guacamole. Depending on the intensity of the salsa you select, the salsa’s role can range from that of a palate-cooling ingredient (in its mild fresh-tomato form) to a crucial spice with a permeating flavor (in its hot tomatillo-chili form). The cilantro-lime rice is light yet surprisingly pleasing, pairing well with the meat and beans without overpowering. The lettuce and cheese or sour cream complete the burrito, so that each bite is a complex blend of flavors which balances health with taste.

For about $10, diners can enjoy a burrito and chips and salsa, a complete meal. Palo Alto’s Chipotle is located on El Camino Real, across the street from the Mayfield soccer fields and next to Olive Garden.

Como Esta

Como Esta is a local specialty, with an artfully-decorated building and comfortable outdoor seating in Midtown. A long-time favorite for Jordan Middle School students on minimum days, Como Esta’s actual building can fill up very quickly with only a few, cramped tables inside, and even the tables outside often are not enough, but on most days, this limited seating suffices.

Como Esta’s regular burritos are decently-portioned and come with chips. The flavors are not particularly strong, but diners have a variety of meat, bean, and salsa options, and for a little extra money, diners can upgrade to the “super” version, which includes sour cream and guacamole. Vegetarians can choose tofu or pay a little less for the vegetarian option. Although we are not particular fans of spicy food, we have heard that Como Esta’s hot salsa is rather mild and lacks the sharp kick that some diners desire.

Como Esta also offers slightly cheaper baby burritos, which are a little smaller and do not come with chips. While we found this smaller version very friendly for a quick snack (Como Esta’s service is speedy) or small meal, we have a minor complaint with the messiness this meal entails. Como Esta’s burritos unfortunately do not hold very well, often spilling their contents.

Una Mas

Una Mas is a California chain with locations in nearby Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Redwood City. Unlike most of the other locations, Una Mas offers a variety of differently-priced burritos, from the basic bean-and-cheese ($4.59)  to the San Lucas fish burrito with grilled fish, shredded cabbage, and chipotle sauce ($5.99) to the ethnic fusion Pineapple Thai with marinated meat, pineapple salsa, sesame seeds, rice, cilantro, and sauce in a tomato tortilla ($6.29 chicken, $7.29 shrimp). Any burrito can be upgraded with extra guacamole ($.75), The Works (guacamole, cheese, and sour cream for $1.25), or Wet Style (mild sauce, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream for $1.75).

Each burrito is decently-sized and unextraordinary, but the large selection of flavors and prices make Una Mas a fairly safe bet for anyone. We also found it nice that the prices really reflect the ingredients you choose to have, as other eateries often charge the standard price even if you only want beans and cheese and regardless of the amount of guacamole you want.

Palo Alto Sol Restaurant

A local favorite locate on California Avenue, Palo Alto Sol differs from many of the other restaurants because of its more intimate, formal setting and its very familiar service. Unlike Una Mas, every burrito is the same price, $9.95, and include rice, beans, and cheese. Palo Alto Sol also offers more traditional flavors, like mole (a dark sauce made of various spices) and Spanish chorizo.

Palo Alto Sol certainly isn’t the place to go for the best bargain, the fastest service, or the largest selection. However, it can’t be beat for its traditional Pueblan flavors and friendly, familiar service.

Rojoz

Once a student favorite at Town and Country Village, Rojoz Gourmet Wraps has now moved to the Charleston Plaza by Piazza’s, but it still offers affordable, delicious burritos (known  as wraps). The prices range from $2.35 for min bean-and-cheese burrito to $7.25 for catfish or terriyaki salmon. Rojoz probably offers the most options out of any burrito place, and every option felt reasonably-priced and fresh. We would like to note,  however, that these wraps lack the full-out flavor that most burritos have, and we would in particular stay clear of the tofu, which offers large hunks of nearly flavorless tofu, quite a mouthful that can be hard to swallow. Nonetheless, Rojoz is the place to go for fast, reliable service, provided that you choose wisely for the wide selection offered.

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