Much like burros transport water and supplies to small towns, burritos transport invaluable resources (steak! beans!) to your mouth. Here're our picks for the 10 places that do them best in Chicago.
10. Del Toro
The carne asada at most Chicago taquerias is usually too dry, except at, um, exception-to-the-rule Del Toro. Stick with black beans and Chihuahua cheese, which both manage to blend perfectly with the steak.
9. La Pasadita
Located next to another La Pasadita that's entirely separate, this one serves up a fine carne asada burrito, as long as you keep it to steak, cilantro, and onions. Results can be hit-or-miss -- a trait lots of taco joints suffer from -- but when it's done right, it's done riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
Just the sheer fact that Taqueria Traspasada makes a chicharron burrito with salsa verde gets its foot in the Top 10 door. The fact that it's actually a really cool one gets it in the Top 8.
Here's the thing: you're hesitant about eating goat, and we're hesitant about telling you to, then having this place blow up with lines/people -- but we're gonna go ahead and do it anyway, and you should too. If only because the goat here is stewed to make the meat more palatable to the uninitiated, marinated in a spicy red sauce, and wrapped to perfection. Also: the lengua burrito is a local favorite, if you're into tongue.
This Costa Rican spot has a tasty chorizo burrito that 1) you've gotta eat, and 2) you've gotta eat from the top down (don't make the mistake of trying to tackle it by cutting it in half... actually, don't ever do that). Pro tip: add some guacamole to balance out the inherent greasiness that is chorizo.
This one is an area favorite. Go with the chicken, leave off the tomatoes and lettuce, and add avocado to the party. The cilantro and onions will thank you.
4. Las Asadas
This small chain's location near the Western Blue Line serves up reliable al pastor burritos made with pork that isn't cooked on a spit (no doubt upsetting purists), but IS bathed in a six-hour marinade that manages to impart a high level of juiciness. Normally knowing that pineapple is one of the marinade's secret ingredients would be a big deal, but the fact that the meat stays juicy even after getting some good char on the griddle is an even bigger one.
You're not meant to hang out too long at this hole-in-the-wall spot, and helping reinforce the choice of "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" is the graffiti and punk rock imagery (including a modified poster for The Clash film Rude Boy, and a cut-out picture of Sid Vicious). Get the awesomely huge Mother Clucker burrito to go -- it bursts with chicken, cilantro, onions, and the ingredient that binds the whole mother-clucking thing together: tequila-lime sauce. *mic drop*
El Famous has more than one location in the city, but you can also trek to the 'burbs for the best chile relleno burrito around. Cut the lettuce and tomato in favor of avocado. It's not always made to perfection, but when it is, the combination of avocado, rice, refried beans, and that glorious batter-fried poblano pepper stuffed with cheese that oozes out when you bite into it is something close to witnessing "Buddy Christ".
1. L' Patron
It's no wonder the best burrito in Chicago comes from someone who spent time working at Rick Bayless' Topolobampo. Ernesto Gonzales' wonderfully tiny, stiflingly hot taqueria hasn't been around even remotely as long as others on this list (it opened in 2012), but it makes the only steak burrito we desperately want to eat again and again and again. Generous sections of tender and incredibly juicy steak are stuffed inside a reasonably sized burrito shell and then griddled to glorious perfection, achieving a crispy exterior.
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Brett Hickman is a local freelance writer and would sleep wrapped in a tortilla if he could. Follow him on Twitter.
1. Del Toro2133 S Halsted St, Chicago
2. La Pasadita1132 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
3. Taqueria Traspasada811 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
4. El Gallo De Oro2952 W 63rd St, Chicago
5. Irazu1865 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
6. Taqueria El Asadero2213 W Montrose Ave, Chicago
7. Las Asadas2072 N Western Ave, Chicago
8. Carbon810 N Marshfield Ave, Chicago
9. L'Patron Tacos3749 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago
Popular wisdom holds "liquor before beer and you're in the clear", but nobody's ever said "liquor before al pastor and you'll want some more"... until now thanks to Del Toro. From the family behind Pilsen staple F&R Liquors, DT's a laid-back adjacent tequila bar & grubbery with a mahogany hue, a U-shaped granite bar, and local abstract paintings, all punctuated by the sounds of Latin jazz and bossa nova, which is also how Brazilians describe their favorite PBS programming.
This Ukrainian Village Mexi-joint doles out of the usual staples, but their burritos are head and shoulders above the rest, especially their carne asada version that's simply made with steak, cilantro, and onions.
This Avondale spot might not look like much from the outside, but once you bite into their chicharron burrito with salsa verde, nothing else matters.
You can find some traditional Mexican options at this Marquette establishment, but if you wanna try something a little different, order their stewed goat burrito using meat marinated in spicy red sauce, or the lengua burrito, aka tongue.
Irazu has a blend of surprises and reliable standards that make it a solid place to stop for eats. Dishing out mouth-watering pepito sandwiches (ribeye steak or chicken), a unique oatmeal shake (surprise!), and a number of delicious empanadas and burritos, this Bucktown Costa Rican spot is perfect for any occasion.
This classic, hole-in-the-wall (cash only!) Mexican joint has south-of-the-border food down pat, doling out go-tos like delicious (and cheap) tacos, burritos, and homemade guacamole and horchata. Our favorites include the steak and al pastor tacos and the carne asada burrito.
This is a small chain near the Western Blue Line and it serves great al pastor burritos made with pork that isn't cooked on a spit, but is bathed in a six-hour marinade making it extra juicy.
This place prides itself on healthier, high-quality Mex cuisine, using natural beans and olive oil instead of lard for their tortillas. But the best part is their insanely tender steak.
If you thought you could only get decent Mexican street food south of the border, think again – for Chicagoans, it’s as easy as a trip to Logan Square. The market-driven menu at L’Patron includes highlights like carne asada and the signature la gringa, a tortilla with al pastor, Chihuahua cheese, pineapple, and a side of rice and beans. While seating is available, this counter-service taqueria is a lunch hotspot, so get there early to snag a seat and chow down.