How to make your very own Mission Burrito

Reader and commenter D. Jon Moutarde said the other day, “Y’know, the best burrito is the one you learn to make yourself. Just sayin’ y’all.” I was skeptical, so I replied, “I’ve been making burritos myself for about 25 years and I’ve yet to get anywhere close to the best Mission burritos. What’s your secret?” And here it is:

You really want to know?

1. Go to the place that sells what you consider to be the “best” Mission burrito, and order one. If you can watch them assemble it, so much the better.

2. DO NOT eat it; take it home and disassemble it carefully. Take careful note of your burrito’s ingredients and make a list of them. If you think of any items that might enhance the awesomeness of the burrito, in your eyes, add them to the list.

3. Buy all the ingredients on your list, bring them home, prep them as necessary, and assemble new burritos — for a party of four, if you’re feeling brave. Stand back and bask in the pride.

The only tricky parts are the tortillas and meat. You want the freshest tortillas possible — if you’re not ready to make them yourself, then scout around for stuff that looks like it might be extra-local. And how far are you willing to go with the meat? Safeway has already-cooked carnitas, and Duc Loi has ready-to-grill carne asada that will cook in about 10 minutes… or you could get some trash cuts with lots of connective tissue cheap and slow-cook it for a few hours until it falls apart. The world of meat is vast and wonderful.

The essence of cheap “Mexican” food is that it is so easy that a trained monkey could make it — that’s how it stays cheap! Its ingredients are more-or-less separable; it’s not something like a soup or cake where it can be difficult to figure out what’s in there. All you need is confidence, taste, and a systematic approach to production.

Simple enough. But I still wonder if there’s some bit of magic that goes along with mass production that gives Mission burritos an extra boost. (Also, I wish I were as talented in the kitchen as a trained monkey.) Thanks, Jon!

26 Responses to “How to make your very own Mission Burrito”

  1. Dr. Fart says:

    How to make your very own Mission burrito on my ding-a-ling

  2. Daryl F. says:

    Is it cost effective though? You could have the professionals at Farolito make you one for $4.50. I don’t know if you could make it as cheap at home unless you were making dozens of burritos at once.

  3. Luscious says:

    Seriously, it’s the lard. Are you really gonna use lard at home?

    • moderniste says:

      I love using lard–in lots of things; pie crusts, seriously amazing fried breakfasts and big pots’o'refried pintos. Not the chemical-laden vaseline they sell at supermarkets, but either render your own at home in a big pot of simmering water (it’s super easy) or go to a respectable butcher and ask for “leaf lard”–the good shit.

  4. Andrew Mundy says:

    1. Buy a burrito
    2. Take it apart
    3. Build it back with local ingredients

    No, this is not how you make your own mission burrito. Assholes.

  5. tacotron says:

    go to las palmas for fresh made tortillas. Usually at the meat markets you can ask the person at the counter to add the seasonings “para asar” I’m making tacos right now! Haha. Al pastor would be the tricky one, cuz to do it legit you need a spit? Or whatever that spinning thing is they also cook lamb and chicken shawarma is called

  6. el jefe says:

    The secret to good carnitas is to boil it in:
    a) lard
    b) coca-cola
    c) orange juice
    d) whole milk

    No foolin!

  7. skeptical says:

    “2. DO NOT eat it; take it home and disassemble it carefully.”

    This is the step I can never seem to get past.

  8. Jerquee says:

    Hm nothing I couldn’t have figured out easy. Tell me how El Castillito gets their tortillas so freakin’ chewy and soft, and I’ll prop ya then.

    • moderniste says:

      The magic of steam.

      • Jerquee says:

        El Castillito does it on the grill. I have no idea what their magic is.

        • moderniste says:

          If they’re chewy and soft but only see the grill, they probably store them pre-moistened so that when they hit the grill, the heat creates enough steam to keep them from getting too dried-out/crispy.

          Or magic.

  9. Sock says:

    This is a bullshit post….. This seems like an awful lot of impersonation, much like all of what’s going on in the mission


    Burritos are packed under tremendous pressure. Foil is the only substance known to man which can maintain the pressure vessel that allows burritos to exist in our plane of existence. The foil is there for your safety, and is the only thing keeping you from a horrible expollosion. Tortilla shrapnel can leave permanent scars, both physical and emotional.

    Just peel it back and leave the rolling to the experts.

  11. jekka says:

    Duc Loi has giant, doughy tortillas from Mi Ranchito.

    Pinto bean quality is key. Making your own from dried beans is wayyy better than the canned ones. Just soak overnight, change the water, cook for an hour with big chunks of onion. Add salt at the end, rather than while simmering, to keep them soft.


  12. KyleM says:

    Um, fuck you for calling to person who makes your food a monkey, you fucking trustafarian shit. I hope the next burrito that goes into you will be through your ass.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Wait, who called cooks monkeys? I think Moutarde just said that assembling a burrito is so easy that a trained monkey could do it, that’s not the same thing as saying that it is trained monkeys that ARE doing it.

      (Disclaimer: I do not share his view on this. Putting together a delicious burrito is not actually so very easy, in my experience.)

      • KyleM says:

        “The essence of cheap “Mexican” food is that it is so easy that a trained monkey could make it — THAT’S HOW IT STAYS SO CHEAP!”

        Meaning the monkeys who are *currently* making it are what makes the food cheap. He’s a fucking shit head. Don’t defend it.

        • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

          Yeah, you’re definitely reading something into it that is not at all there. But, y’know, way to stretch a metaphor to its breaking point and all that.