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A burrito

A burrito (pronounced /bəˈriːtoʊ/ in US English, [buˈriːto] in Spanish), or taco de harina, is a type of Mexican food. It consists of a flour tortilla wrapped or folded around a filling. The flour tortilla is usually lightly grilled or steamed, to soften it and make it more pliable. In Mexico, refried beans, Mexican rice, or meat are usually the only fillings and the tortilla is smaller in size. In the United States, however, fillings generally include a combination of ingredients such as Mexican rice, beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, avocado, cheese, and sour cream, and the size varies, with some burritos considerably larger than their Mexican counterparts.

The word burrito literally means "little donkey" in Spanish, coming from burro, which means "donkey". The name burrito possibly derives from the appearance of a rolled up wheat tortilla, which vaguely resembles the ear of its namesake animal, or from bedrolls and packs that donkeys carried.[1]



Mexican popular tradition tells the story of a man named Juan Mendez who used to sell tacos in a street stand, using a donkey as a transport for himself and the food, during the Mexican Revolution period (1910-1921) in the Bella Vista neighborhood in Ciudad Juárez.[citation needed] To keep the food warm, Juan had the idea of wrapping the food placed in a large home made flour tortilla inside individual napkins. He had a lot of success, and consumers came from other places around the Mexican border looking for the "food of the Burrito," the word they eventually adopted as the name for these large tacos.

Burritos are a traditional food of Ciudad Juárez, a city in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, where people buy them at restaurants and roadside stands. Northern Mexican border towns like Villa Ahumada have an established reputation for serving burritos, but they are quite different from the American variety. Authentic Mexican burritos are usually small and thin, with flour tortillas containing only one or two ingredients: some form of meat, potatoes, rice, fish, beans, asadero cheese, chile rajas, or chile relleno.[2] Other types of ingredients may include barbacoa, mole, chopped hot dogs cooked in a tomato and chile sauce, refried beans and cheese, deshebrada, and (shredded slow-cooked flank steak). The deshebrada burrito also has a variation in chile colorado (mild to moderately hot) and salsa verde (very hot). The Mexican burrito may be a northern variation of the traditional "Taco de Canasta." They are eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.[citation needed]

Although burritos are one of the most popular examples of Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico, burritos are uncommon outside of northern Mexico, although they are beginning to appear in some non-traditional venues.

Wheat flour tortillas used in burritos are now often seen through much of Mexico, but at one time were peculiar to northwestern Mexico, the Southwestern US Mexican American community, and Pueblo Indian tribes, possibly due to these areas being less than optimal for growing maize.

Burritos are commonly called tacos de harina (wheat flour tacos) in Central and Southern Mexico and burritas (feminine variation, with 'a') in northern-style restaurants outside of Northern Mexico proper. A long and thin fried burrito similar to a chimichanga is prepared in the state of Sonora and vicinity and is called a chivichanga.[3]


Wet burrito style

The most commonly served style of the burrito in the United States is not as common in Mexico. Typically, American-style burritos are larger than their Mexican counterparts, and stuffed with multiple ingredients in addition to the principal meat or vegetable stuffing, such as pinto or black beans, rice (frequently flavored with cilantro and lime or prepared Mexican-style), guacamole, salsas, cheese, and sour cream.

One very common enhancement is the wet burrito (also called an enchilada-style burrito), which is a burrito smothered in a red chile sauce similar to an enchilada sauce, with shredded cheese added on top so that the cheese melts. This type of burrito is typically placed on a plate and eaten with a knife and fork, rather than being eaten while held in hand as with the San Francisco variety of burrito. When served in a Mexican restaurant in the U.S., a melted cheese covered burrito is typically called a burrito suizo (Suizo meaning Swiss, an adjective used in Spanish to indicate dishes topped with cheese or cream).

Some cities have their own variations with one of the most well-known being the San Francisco burrito.


San Diego burrito

Sometimes known as the California burrito, the San Diego style burrito typically uses a flour tortilla stuffed with carne asada, salsa fresca, french fries, cheese, and sour cream. The ingredients are similar to those used in the carne asada fries dish, and it is considered a staple of the local cuisine of San Diego, California.[4]

San Francisco burrito

The origins of the San Francisco burrito can be traced back to Mission District taquerias of the 1960s. An alternate theory is that the original San Francisco burritos began with farmworkers in the fields of Central Valley. Confusingly there is other research that traces the ancestry even further back to the miners of the 19th century. The San Francisco burrito emerged as a culinary movement during the 1970s and 1980s, and more recently spawned the wrap. The typical San Francisco burrito is produced on a steam table assembly line, and is characterized by a large stuffed tortilla, wrapped in aluminum foil which can include variations on Spanish rice, beans(refried, black, or pinto), a meat or veg. filling/ or combination shrimp & steak is common, a hot or mild salsa, white mexican cheese, fresh sour cream, avocado, or guacomole, tomato, cilantro, onions, roasted peppers, and rarely lettuce. The salsas range from pico de gallo, to red tomato, to green tomatillo, and to a roasted corn.

The San Francisco-style burrito was popularized by Mission Street taquerias like El Farolito. Nationally by eateries like Moe's Southwest Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill,[5] Illegal Pete's, Freebirds World Burrito, Qdoba, and Barberitos.

Breakfast burrito

Southwestern cuisine, New Mexican cuisine, and Tex-Mex in particular, has popularized the breakfast burrito, in which elements of an American breakfast are wrapped inside a flour tortilla with green chile. Southwestern breakfast burritos may include scrambled eggs, potatoes, onions, chorizo, guisado, or bacon.[6] Tia Sophia's, a Mexican café in Santa Fe, New Mexico, claims to have invented the original breakfast burrito in 1975, filling a rolled tortilla with bacon and potatoes, served wet with chili and cheese.[7] Fast food giant McDonald's introduced their version in the late 1980s and by the 1990s, more fast food restaurants caught on to the style, with Taco Bell, Sonic, and Carl's Jr. offering breakfast burritos (smaller in size) on their menus.


Cleveland-style baked burrito

A burrito bowl is a burrito or fajita served without the tortilla wrap.[8] It is instead placed in a bowl. Its establishment can be traced to the beginning of the low carb fad in the early 2000s. However, it does have carbohydrates, traditionally in a layer of rice at the bottom. It is not to be confused with a taco salad which has a foundation of lettuce, and a tortilla with it. The burrito bowl is found in some form at all the major national Mexican chains including Chipotle, Qdoba, Panchero's, and Moe's. Chipotle refers to it as the "Burrito bol," sans the "w" in their menu (bol is the Spanish word for bowl). Qdoba informs customers to: "ask for it naked."[9] Moe's menu states: "be a streaker! Lose the tortilla!." Panchero's menu states to order "just the insides."[10][11]

A Chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito that is popular in Southwestern cuisine, Tex-Mex cuisine, and the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora.

For author Linda Furiya, burritos evoke "pacifying" comfort food qualities that "soothe the soul." Furiya offers a unique recipe for the "Spirit-Lifting Burrito," containing Monterey Jack cheese, scrambled eggs, sautéed spinach, sesame seeds, black beans, rice, mung bean sprouts, sriracha sauce, cilantro, and lime juice.[12]

Another variety is a "Korean burrito", where a flour tortilla is filled with a Korean preparation, typically bulgogi. [13]


Taco Bell research chef Anne Albertine experimented with grilling burritos to enhance portability. This grilling technique allowed large burritos to remain sealed without spilling their contents.[14] This is a well known cooking technique used by some San Francisco taquerias and Northern Mexico burrito stands. Traditionally, grilled burritos are cooked on a comal (griddle).

Bean burritos, which are high in protein and low in saturated fat have been touted for their health benefits. Black bean burritos are also a good source of dietary fiber and phytochemicals.[15]

International burritos

This is a list of images of international burritos.


  1. ^ Duggan, Tara. (Apr. 29, 2001). The Silver Torpedo. San Francisco Chronicle.
  2. ^ Franz, Carl; Lorena Havens (2006). The People's Guide to Mexico. Avalon Travel Publishing. p. 379. ISBN 1566917115. 
  3. ^ Bayless, Rick and Deann Groen Bayless. (1987). Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico. Morrow Cookbooks. p. 142.ISBN 0-688-04394-1
  4. ^ See for example: Berkmoes, Ryan; Sara Benson (2009). "California Iconic Trips: A Burrito Odyssey". California Trips. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1741797276. 
  5. ^ Slodysko, Brian (2008-06-25). "Chipotle serves up free burritos and drinks". Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  6. ^ Cheek, Lawrence. (Oct, 2001). Rise and shine - breakfast - Recipe. Sunset.
  7. ^ Anderson, Judith (1998-05-24). "What's Doing In; Santa Fe". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  8. ^ "Restaurant Guide, Associated Student Government, Northwestern University". Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  9. ^ "Qdoba Mexican Grill :: Fresh Burritos, Tacos, Nachos, and Salads Made to Order". Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  10. ^ {{cite web|url=
  11. ^ "Definition of a burrito bowl". Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  12. ^ Furiya, Linda. (Jan. 24, 2007). Burritos can soothe your soul. San Francisco Chronicle.
  13. ^ "*** Crisp Menu *** *** Home of the Buddha Bowl, Original Buds and The Funke Chicken ***". Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  14. ^ Crosby, Olivia. (Fall, 2002). You're a What? Research Chef. Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Vol. 46, Num. 3.
  15. ^ The University of Pennsylvania Health System. Breakfast, Dinner or Anytime Burrito. Adapted from the Cancer Nutrition Information, LLC. Archive URL: Mar 25, 2006.

Further reading and resources

Simple English

A Burrito is usually a round Mexican meal with meat. In the United States, however, fillings generally include a combination of ingredients such as Mexican rice, beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, avocado, cheese, and sour cream, and the size varies, with some burritos considerably larger than their Mexican counterparts.


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