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Illustration by Ray Torres

The humble burrito: at its most simple, a mound of stuff enclosed in a tortilla. But every restaurant has its spin, playing with fillings, tinkering with presentation. Perhaps they grill the outside until it crisps, perhaps they go heavy on the rice. Do they fold the tortilla into a snug cylinder or a loose roll? Beans or no beans? What’s their stance on avocado?

These are the hard-hitting questions, so we sampled from 11 (Mexican, Tex-Mex or Cuban) local restaurants, asking for their house special–the burrito people come to their establishment specifically to eat. And folks, we ate them. Though we tasted one ‘rito per restaurant, we hope we can give you a sense of their style, approach, philosophy.
Happy eating, friends. For the sake of your stomachs, may the question “I wonder what all the different burritos in Gainesville taste like” never have to occur to you.

 

Illustrations by Samantha Schuyler

Flaco’s downtown location – $6

Address: 200 W. University Ave
Our selection: Pork burrito with avocado garlic salsa
Approximate size: 7.5 inches
Things to note: The avocado-garlic sauce costs extra

Flaco’s has a simple menu–simply pick any permutation of the five proteins and four sauces. Theirs is a dense, tightly wrapped burrito, which in combination with a crisply grilled outer shell is perfectly portable — hardly any spillage. We enjoyed striking wells of sour cream, which in combination with the sauce helps cut the layer of heavy white rice. Otherwise, this is an embellishment-free, straight-to-the-point burrito.

Sauces:

  • garlic avocado
    • mild, creamy, intense garlic flavor
  • pineapple chipotle
    • spicy, tangy, marinade-like
  • mango habanero
    • sweet then smoky, well-rounded
  • pink Sriracha
    • creamy, dip-like, essentially the spicy mayo they use in sushi

“The sauces are the huge players in this.”
“This’ll sober you up real quick.”

 

BurritoBrothers

Burrito Bros Taco Co. – $6.80

Address: 1402 W. University Ave.
Our selection: Beef burrito
Approximate size: 6 inches
Things to note: Increase your amount of filling and add sour cream for 80 cents. You can also add a variety of other accoutrements (tomatoes, onions, spicy peppers, guac, low-fat yogurt, rice), but it costs extra.

Burrito Bros has a set of eight pre-made options, all with the same basic premise: a selection of filling in a thin and loosely wrapped flour tortilla. Some options come with rice; ours didn’t. Burrito Bros has a high spillage factor, with crumbly bits of filling falling out of either unfolded end, requiring a delicate touch to navigate without it falling apart. Its simplicity in design (protein, cheese, lettuce) made it seem like an enormous taco — which, depending on what you want, is definitely not a bad thing. 

Sauces:

  • red sauce
    • smooth, smoky, simple, vinegar-y–a beginning sauce
  •  tomatillo sauce
    • sweet, chunky, hardy with a roasted, garlicky flavor
  • chipotle sauce
    • smoky, meaty, robust, peppery with a slight heat
  • corn salsa
    • sweet, fresh, chunks of veggies with a kick

“It’s more like a taco-burrito.”
“This is a tasteful amount of cheese.”
“I could eat this tomatillo sauce by itself.”

Burrito Famous – $6.75

Address: 3412 W. University Ave.
Our selection: Chicken burrito
Approximate size: 6 inches
Things to note: They also sell churros!

Burritos here are done in an assembly-line fashion, with a comprehensive list of fillings. The result is a girthy, bulging mound (they pack a lot in there) with a thick, lightly pressed (but also chewy) tortilla. The filling tasted fresh and flavorful, and we enjoyed the ratio of meat to rice and beans. 

 

“The burrito for the masses–you can’t go wrong.”
“It’s like Chipotle, but better.”

La Tienda – $5.50

Address: 2204 SW 13th St.
Our selection: Al Pastor — pork marinated and cooked with pineapple. 
Approximate size: 6 inches
Things to note: Sour cream comes for free on the side. Doesn’t come with cheese, but you can add some for 50 cents.

Six inches is a little misleadingthis burrito seemed almost as thick as it was long, and every inch of it tasted like a warm hug. The tortilla, which in its intense, fresh flavor seemed homemade, gave way to a hearty mix of meat, Mexican rice and refried beans. The filling tasted like it had been cooked slowly for hours until all the flavors and spices rendered together, with moments of chewiness and pliancy throughout. 

Sauces:

  • avocado sauce
    • creamy, thin, cilantro flavor with a tiny kick
  • red sauce
    • liquid heat, mouth-numbing

“It tastes like someone put a lot of love into it.”
“Somehow feels very homey.”
“That red sauce is deadly.

elindio

El Indio – $4.75

Address: 407 NW 13th St.
Our selection: Steak burrito
Approximate size: 6 inches
Things to note: Has a drive-thru, sour cream costs extra

If you’re looking to satisfy a deep, fleshly urge, we point you toward El Indio’s greasy, salty, cheesy jumble of fillings tucked into a loose and doughy tortilla. We found that the burrito eventually buckled under its own weight, a result of the tortilla essentially dissolving from the oil, which seeped from the foil and stained the paper bag. For a certain mood, those stains are a work of art. 

Sauces:

  • red sauce 
    • fresh, light, mild, with flavors of garlic and cilantro
  • green sauce
    • zesty, chunky, with flavors of citrus and cilantro

“It’s like high quality Taco Bell.”

bocafiesta

Boca Fiesta – $9

Address: 232 SE 1st St.
Our selection: Gator burrito
Approximate size: 7.5 inches

Despite being a sit-down restaurant, Boca’s burrito was perhaps the most portable of them all, everything tucked with extraordinary neatness into a tightly rolled rectangle. Alongside the gator, which was lightly battered and fried, there were discrete layers of brown rice, black beans and fresh vegetable, all cradled in a doughy, sticky tortilla. The result was fresh and light and full of texture, what with the toothsome beans, chewy gator and crunchy vegetables. It reminded us of something in the breed of California cuisine. 


Sauces:

  • The gator burrito comes with a chipotle aioli, which was refreshing a little spicy. With all the discrete layers, it acted as an effective binding agent and source of moisture.

“Like gamey chicken.”
“Burrito nouveau.”

blueagave

Blue Agave – $8.50

Address: 4401 NW 25 Pl.  
Our selection: Pork burrito
Approximate size: 9 inches

“This is a fork-and-knife burrito.”

Even ordered to-go, Blue Agave is carefully nestled into a bed of garnishes, with a layer of queso blanco drizzled over the top in a way that reminded us of enchiladas. It doesn’t take long for the cheese to saturate the doughy tortilla and seep into the filling, dampening everything and blending all the tastes together. The filling tasted fresh and and purposefully light and creamy, the yellow and Mexican rice working in tandem with the fresh avocado to brighten the salty pork. Another one that recalled California.  

La Fiesta – $8.25

Address: 9513 NW 39th Ave.
Our selection: Fajita burrito
Approximate size: 7 inches
Things to note: It came with queso and two salsas, but no chips to-go–we assume you usually get chips if you order in.

Have you ever had a fajita? It was pretty much an enormous fajita.    

Pepper’s – $7.49

Address: 7750 W. Newberry Rd.
Our selection: The Burrito California — their steak option
Approximate size: Almost 10 inches
Things to note: Comes with chips and salsa

“For someone who doesn’t like spicy food.”
“Very West-Coast-y.”

Pepper’s bulbous, rotund ‘rito was probably the largest of our selection; and being draped in a layer of cheese, we resorted to a fork and knife. Inside, the filling was creamy, mild and bright in flavor, packed with yellow rice and fresh vegetables. We caught a lot of avocado, which made the burrito’s name feel appropriate.    
 

La Pasadita – $6.40

Address: 4126 NW 6th St.  
Our selection: Steak and chorizo burrito
Approximate size: 7 inches
Things to note: Comes with chips and salsa

Veering in the opposite direction of the bright, mild, avocado-y options, La Pasadita’s burrito was hearty and rich, with the crispy chorizo and chewy, fatty steak chunks commingling with cooked vegetables and rice in a way that reminded us of a thick stew. Packed to bursting in a chewy, thin tortilla, the smoky, meaty flavors stood out the most, with the other accoutrements relegated to the background.  
 

Sauces:

  • avocado sauce
    • refreshing, creamy, light, slightly spicy
  • red sauce
    • smoky jabanero flavor, extremely spicy

“I feel like I want to go hunting after eating this.”
“Like a stew or pot roast in a burrito.”

Linda Vista – $7.80

Address: 7070 SW Archer Rd. #3102 
Our selection: Chicken Burrito Grande
Approximate size: 7.5 inches

The compact, tightly wrapped tortilla bound together a mixture that reminded us of Thanksgiving leftovers. The large chunks of grilled chicken swam in a thick, gravy-like mash spangled with Mexican rice and cooked peppers and onions, which made for a mellow, tame flavor.   
 


Sauces:

  • green sauce
    • thin, oily, intense cilantro flavor

“Is there gravy in here?”
“I think this is a Thanksgiving burrito.”