Al and Bea’s- LA Burrito legends
The three most common types of burritos in California are Mission style, LA style, and San Diego style. They may have different names elsewhere but for the sake of clarity I will use these terms. Out of these three LA has the least coherent burrito identity. One of the reasons for this is that the best place to get burritos in LA is at Mexican-American burrito/taco stands, not at taquerias. Go to any taqueria in LA and a carne asada burrito will consist of spanish rice, pinto beans, and a couple scoops of carne asada of questionable quality. If you’re lucky they’ll put some salsa inside the burrito. These aren’t LA style burritos. LA style burritos come from roadside stands like Lupe’s in Montebello,Lupe’s #2, and Al and Bea’s. These are burritos with flavor and with history. Al and Bea’s has been slinging its lard filled bombs through those tiny windows for almost 50 years. Lupe’s #2 rarely has an empty stool as locals and non-locals rub elbows eagerly waiting to devour red and green chile burritos These are the burritos of LA. Not those weak rice and pinto bean filled burros that you find at LA taquerias.
The goal of this blog is to find all three types of burritos in LA. Here is how I describe each type of burrito:
Mission style(San Francisco)- A steamed tortilla filled with meat (carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, or pollo), rice (cilantro-lime or spanish), beans (pinto or black), cheese, gucamole, salsa, and sometimes lettuce. This type of burrito is very difficult to find in LA if it can be found at all. Chains like Chipotle and Qdoba are about as close as we get in LA to this kind of burrito.
San Diego style- tortilla filled with high quality carne asada, pico de gallo and sometimes guacamole or sour cream. No rice or beans. No lettuce. Sometimes jack cheese. Sometimes fries (California burrito). The only place so far in LA that I’ve found a San Diego style burrito is the Alberto’s chain in San Gabriel Valley.
LA style - tortilla filled with refried beans(preferably with lard) or frijoles de olla, meat (machaca,stewed beef or pork, chile colorado, chile verde or ground beef) and salsa or chile. No rice. No guacamole.No lettuce. Sometimes cheese. They commonly have names like red chile burrito or green chile burrito.
From this point on I will try to avoid taqueria burritos that don’t fall into either of these categories. Taqueria burritos from now on will be ordered all meat to avoid the pointless exercise of eating a burrito that is half filler. Wet burritos will continue to be eaten on rare occasions.
I will eat and rate burritos according to how they taste. I will try to avoid all burrito snobbery. If a SF style burrito tastes good it will receive a thumbs up.
If anyone disagrees with my characterizations of the different kinds of burritos they can fuck off. Just kidding. I’d like to hear any and all objections and please send in your burrito recs.