The recurring theme for burritos in Philadelphia seems to be “large.” No, scratch that–huge. Gigantic. Massive. Colossal. You get the picture. From burrito trucks and cantinas to sit-down comfort food restaurants, there are plenty of spots in our fair city where you can plunk down a little cash and get a hefty serving of Mexican goodness.
Cantina Los Caballitos
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
Happy Hour: Mon to Fri–4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The burritos at the lively Cantina Los Caballitos were voted the best of 2011 by Philly Hotlist, so if you’re looking for a California-style burrito, look no further than this South Philly eatery. At a respectable average price of $9, the list of possible fillings for every burrito is lengthy. Diners choose from pork, chorizo, goat, steak, shrimp, mahi mahi, black bean, vegetable and vegan beef. There are plenty of other tasty options on the menu as well: tacos, fajitas and ever-changing specials. Los Caballitos also offers tasty and substantial vegetarian and vegan choices. Go with a group for happy hour and enjoy half price pitchers of prickly pear or blood orange margaritas or Mexican beer, and stuff yourself silly!
Hours: Mon to Fri–11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat–Noon to 9 p.m.
Happy Hour: Mon to Fri–4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
At El Fuego, the burritos are made fresh and with local produce (when possible); diners will never find anything frozen or canned in this kitchen. And as long as you’re not there during the weekday lunch rush, your burrito (or quesadillas or taco) will show up on the table lickety-split. The Rittenhouse Square eatery has outdoor seating when the weather is mild, too. At a reasonable $6.95 each, these monster 10 inch burritos are a steal. And be sure to order some chips and salsa to complement your meal. In fact, it might be best to wear elastic-waist pants when stopping in for a bite.
Tacos don Memo
Don’t be misled: This is a food truck, but it’s a food truck that serves humongous, outlandishly fresh Mexican food with quick and friendly service. Owner Leo Saavedra opened Tacos don Memo modeled after the food trucks in his native Guerrero, Mexico, in 2006, and it quickly became popular with local college students who just couldn’t keep a good thing a secret. Before long, mobs were lining up to get a taste of Leo’s burritos, tacos and enchiladas. Be prepared to wait if you go anywhere near lunchtime (some regulars suggest calling ahead.) Get your burrito stuffed to the brim with chicken, beef, carne asada, pork, or pastor, a spicier version of its marinated pork. Other fillers include beans, rice, fresh avocado, crispy lettuce and juicy tomatoes, all for about $7. If you’re more in the mood to sit in a proper restaurant, visit Leo’s non-mobile version of the food truck at 57 Garrett road in Upper Darby.
Taqueria La Veracruzana
Hours: 7 a.m. to Noon, daily
If Rocky Balboa was training today, he would run right over to Taqueria La Veracruzana in the Italian market and order up a baby hippo-sized burrito. This unassuming eatery attracts masses of native Mexicans who know their burritos, as well as Americanos who just love great food–and tons of it. Winning Philadelphia magazine’s Best of Philly award twice hasn’t turned the place pretentious; burrito lovers can still get a great, filling meal of Mexican comfort food for under $10. Try the Carnitas Burrito with tender pork and real avocado, or the Pastor, with roasted pork and fresh pineapple.
Café con Chocolate
Hours: Thurs to Sat–10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun–10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Burritos for breakfast? Si, if they’re from Café con Chocolate, a Mexican-Japanese fusion restaurant in South Philly. Neighbors roll out of bed just for the chorizo or tofu breakfast burrito with a side of chipotle home fries. If you happen to get up later, treat yourself to a burrito stuffed with chicken, beef, chorizo or pork and your choice of up to three fresh veggies. No matter what the time, be sure to try the namesake Café con Chocolate, a steamy mug of real Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and a hint of cinnamon. Chef and owner Yoshiko Yamasaki and her family, whose father is Japanese and mother is Mexican, have created a warm, welcoming, eclectic space and a very loyal following of fans.
Related: Mexican Restaurants in Philadelphia
Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.