The burrito, as many have argued, is the perfect food. Portable and filling, it provides protein, fat, and carbohydrates in a hand-held delivery system that requires no utensils and no clean-up, thanks to its edible package. In its simplest form, the humble burrito is not much more than a flour tortilla wrapped around a hearty filling of meat, beans, or potatoes. While it’s origins are in Northern Mexico, the moment it crossed the border into the United States, it transformed, as most things do, into something bigger (literally) and more in-your-face. Most burritos you see today are more American than Mexican.
Unlike pizza and burgers, which lend themselves to a seemingly endless variety of bases and toppings, burrito styles tend to stick closely to stuff-inside-a-tortilla script, but even small variations can make a big difference. Almost always, there is a large flour tortilla as a the base; some sort of meat and beans; condiments like sour cream, guacamole, and salsa; as well as options of rice and cheese. Only on rare occasions does an essential burrito style flirt with other ingredients (though one does add french fries to the mix).
As with most beloved foodstuffs, the burrito has many regional riffs, four of which originate in California alone. But regardless of style preference, there’s one thing that everyone can agree upon—when done correctly, they’re insanely delicious.
Here, we break down the essential burrito styles that any fan of Mexican/Tex-Mex/Cal-Mex/awesome food should know.
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