To begin this vignetted list of possible Tex Mex culinary additives, please note that the title ends in, “Of A BURRITO.” Not a burrito or burrito bowl. Since I am not so afraid of gluten that I fear turning to stone like a Sanderson Sister should I ingest a single milligram of it, I stick with the classics (WE GOT SEASONAL JOKES UP IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER). To extend this brief prologue, I’ll also say I’m leaving the wrap itself off the rankings because that is what defines the food. It is also really hard to fuck up.
Believe it or not, for the lists and rankings blogs I have published to The 300s dot com (check the merch store), I have done whatever I can to put bias aside. As an example, the last such blog of this nature I believe outlined what the best Boston movie was. To do so I’m pretty sure I spent about 1,000 words defining the criteria for such a film in order to weigh all in the category equal. So ya, I try to be fair. However, it is usually an impossible task to completely put your preferences aside when ranking/listing things. It just is. In the back of your mind will always be your own tastes, what you feel should be ranked highest vs. what you know for, almost a fact, should be. Heart vs. head.
All of that is to say I have removed 99.9% of bias from this one. This was possible because I am not necessarily ranking the best ingredients, to a certain extent, but the most important ones. For instance, some people would say they like pickles on their burger, some would not. However I don’t think one of the issues amongst those at war on the Gaza Strip relates to pickles on a burger, it just does not matter, enough at least, either way. On the flip side, I am guessing the vast majority of folks want a bun. That argument could indeed incite violence. So what really matters to a Burrito? What defines it?
Let’s find out, least to most important.
“Veggies” here refers to the “veggies” in a “veggie burrito”. I keep using “” quotes because I have no idea which veggies are actually used in the ambiguously labeled “veggie burrito.” Could be a whole raw carrot for all I know. Veggies also come in last here because I assume no rabbits read our blog
I feel like these varmints began as an idea at Taco Bell and sort of just stuck around when more “authentic” places like Chipotle began moving in. We put them on subs so why not put them on something that is totally not a sub? That’s basic American math right there. Actual burrito/taquerias don’t generally even offer them as ingredients. Therefore I can’t say they are all that important to the formula. Nothing against them. They just don’t matter.
This is where Professor Red pulls out his red pen and begins editor-ing all over this blog claiming I’m flip flopping on my claims of not bringing my own biases to the table. And it is true I don’t like “guac.” With that said, I continue to stick to my claim that no one, at least of my generation, ate it until we were around college-aged. And we definitely ate burritos before that. In conclusion, it matters not much.
9.) Hot Sauce
This one hurts because I used to not add hot sauce, but now I do and I love it. Honesty must prevail though and depending on what else you add to your burrito and how those ingredients are prepared it just isn’t an important enough of a factor to go any higher. My favorite podcast, History Hyenas, refers to such things as hot sauce in burritos as a “Clyde Drexler,” or a “Drexler” for short. Basically, if Clyde Drexler had played in era without the greatest basketball player ever in Michel Jordan, he’d be in the conversation. Just wrong place at the wrong time. Same with our pal hot sauce here.
This is a tricky one. Personally, I can do without beans but I understand that that is just me and that a lot of people love them. But compared to what is above and below them on this list I can’t honestly rank the magical fruit anywhere else. It also doesn’t help that there are a large variety of beans, both within each restaurant and across the cuisine itself, which doesn’t help their case in terms of how staunchly they’re supported in any particular form.
7.) Sour Cream/Crema
This is probably my boldest ranking, but I stand by it. Especially when considering there may not be hot sauce (which the establishment may skimp on anyway) present, you need something in that burrito to wet the whistle a bit. A dry as hell burrito stinks to high heaven. It’s like an overcooked burger. It’s a worst-case scenario that many a road can bring you to: the aforementioned small portion of hot sauce (if any), old/dry rice, old/dry meat, etc. The sour cream and/or crema not only brings a little extra flavor, but an extra, very necessary texture augmentation.
6.) Pico de gallo/Salsa
The importance of the next two ingredients are hard to articulate but cannot be understated. Pico brings a flavor and texture boost to any burrito that simply cannot be replaced. It’s the 6th man of a burrito. When you need a clutch bite or some extra oomph, there it is.
The other hard to understate ingredient, rice. You simply have to have rice in a burrito. Rice also curiously has an inverse relationship with beans. There are a few varieties of rice. And while the varying nature of beans makes me think of them as disposable, the very same quality of rice makes me think of it as flexible and triumphant. Regardless, rice quite frankly is part of the palate in every bite of a burrito and brings a consistent presence that no other ingredient brings.
And now we get into the main courses. Carnitas (pork for the uninitiated) comes in last due to pure statistics. I don’t really know anyone who orders it. I have no qualms with carnitas, they just trail their peers.
3.) Ground Beef
It’s gotta be tough on ground beef having never been assigned a cool Spanish name. It’s also sort of….I don’t know basic? This is what I got in my hard- shell tacos with a side of fries on “taco” night in my Irish Catholic household growing up (fuckin LOVED taco night). GB is also a lightly ordered main course so it’s going to look back at only carnitas.
This was tough. It just was. Who doesn’t love chicken? Who doesn’t, whether in a burrito or not, order chicken in some capacity all the damn time? But we’re talking burritos, and there is something about falling back on old faithful that sort of betrays the point of springing for a burrito over a sub, pizza, etc. I love you chicken. Always will.
1.) Carne Asada
I don’t make the rules. Sure, there are places that mail their carne asada the fuck in. I get it. But when done right and portioned correctly (there is such a thing as too much and such a thing as too little), carne asada burritos kick fucking ass. They are the cat’s pajamas. You simply cannot beat red meat, season right, cooked to perfection, rolled up snug with a variety of the ingredients mentioned above. Therefore, carne asada ranks #1.