In Search of the Great Burrito

If there’s anything that I am an expert on it is burritos: the kind of Tex-Mex hearty burritos that come wrapped in white flour tortillas and do not have the pretense of yuppie “wraps.” Hell, I was eating burritos when I was a baby. My mom would dump a cheese & bean burrito into the blender and then feed it to me with a side of jalapeños. Later I was inaugurated to tripe and brain barbacoa burritos. So I know of what I speaketh.

We in White Center are blessed with a bounty of Mexican and Latin American restaurants. Way back in time when White Center actually lived up to its reputation as Rat City I discovered Taqueria Guaymas on the corner of 17th and Roxbury. Guaymas serves mission-style burritos which, strictly speaking are not actually a Mexican product. Mission-style burritos originated with California’s Chicano community. These burritos are defined by their hefty girth and the prodigious helping of rice and beans. In this regard, Guaymas makes the best mission style burrito around, Spanish rice, whole beans and your choice of fillings. Guaymas has locations in more upscale neighborhoods but the original one is still the best, especially when it comes to authentic meats.

At the other end of the spectrum is the taco trailer between 15th and 16th Avenue SW, otherwise known as Taqueria La Fondita. The burritos here leave good grease stain on your plate and hefty piece of lead in your belly. In other words, this is the real deal, Tex-Mex burritos as I recall them. Unlike mission-style burritos, these are not as packed with carbs but what they lack in grains they make up in flavor. You can taste this morning’s huevos rancheros in the grease they use to fry the carnes for your burrito. This is the stuff you eat when you need to cure a Tequila hangover. The salsa they use is nothing to write home about, but the side of grilled carrots and jalapeños is excellent.

More recently El Paisano, WC’s great Mexican butcher shop, has opened a restaurant by the same name close to the intersection of 15th and Roxbury. The meats used are excellent and include my favorite barbacoa de chivo (goat meat barbeque). These burritos are more authentically Mexican. The red meats are succulent and leave no doubt that these were made with a very fine grade of meat. The roasted chickens are coated in a red adobo sauce that permeates the chicken with a subtle spicy flavor. The red salsa is excellent and is strongly recommended.

If you want to explore there are more Mexican and Latin American restaurants in White Center. I did not review these others, because they are somewhat outside of my orbit and are more in the nature of sit-down restaurants; these include Restaurante Del Rio and Viva Mexico (both on 17th Ave. SW). In any event, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to burritos at WC.

Tags: ,

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

11 Responses to “In Search of the Great Burrito”

  1. Great info! The only restaurant I’ve tried in White Center is a Vietnamese place a few years ago. (I know – I need to explore a bit more.) I’ll definitely try these burrito places out.

    I’ll keep watching for other dining tips.

  2. Salva Los Trocas!

  3. La fondita is the best taco truck!!!! And being an amatuer I love their salsa/hot sauce they give with the tacos. and Viva and Del rio are on 16th between 102nd and 108th :)

  4. It is not in White Center but the Taco truck across the street from the police station right before the old Lewis and Clark Theater on 99 is awesome.

  5. El Paisano is TERRIFIC! The kids behind the counter are sweet and smart; the whole family is warm and embraceable, to be sure.

    And, I will chime in with Ricardo’s testament to the quality of the meat used. The succulent, sweet pork on my fresh $1.50 carnita was ample enough to constitute a full meal! There are few things as wholesome and nourishing, to me, as a simply seasoned, fresh pot of slow-cooked pinto beans. The unctuous broth soothes souls, I think. El Paisano knows the soul’s needs: pinto beans so undeniably, irresistibly fresh, they snapped when bitten into. Oh, that is some very good, simple eating.

    They roast a beautiful chicken, as well. The genius is that they are Not overly salted, as is so common. A beautiful, lightly crackled skin remains over moist meat, perfectly tendered. They can be bought whole, as well as a 1/4 and 1/2 chicken meal with beans (whole or refried – BOTH fresh, however!) and rice.

    I love this little place, the people and, yes, the poultry! It’s all so very good.

  6. Restaurante del Rio is a long-time family owned favorite in White Center. Awesome platters, great seafood dishes, and slow-cooked meats make this the number one location for a satisfying meal. And the attached grocery has all kinds of great stuff too.

    On the other hand, Viva Mexico is barely worth setting foot in.

  7. Any suggestions for erm, vegetarians? I’ve avoided the taco trucks not knowing if they would have anything tasty I could eat.

  8. Yep, this Guaymas location is great. I used to go to the Green Lake location when I lived close and their burrito size shrank as time went by. Now that I live in White Center, it’s great to have a full sized super burrito from Guaymas again! I only wish that they had refried beans because IMO, refried beans really propels burritos to the next level….

    I’ll have to try the burritos at La Fondita, I usually get the steak torta…..

    I DID NOT like my burrito at El Paisano Rosticeria Y Cocina. It had frickin lettuce in it and did not taste good at all…..

  9. El Paisano serves tortas ahogadas. Pork on a roll, with onions, drowned in red sauce. This is the only place in Washington I’ve found these wonderful sandwiches. For a few minutes I feel a little bit like I’m in Jalisco. El Paisano is a wonderful place.

  10. Now I’m craving barbacoa de chivo… mmmmm!

  11. Can anyone recommend authentic Oaxaca style mole in/around WC? I found that even the mole at La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard is too sweet.