The great burrito wars of San Francisco may never come to any satisfying conclusion. But in a town as blessed as ours is with burrito riches, we probably shouldn't complain and just enjoy that everyone has their passionate preferences.
It's been a couple of years since SFist has surveyed the city's burrito scene. And while many of the players and the tortilla-rolled delights remain largely the same, things have not stayed completely static. A couple favorites, like the Castro's Tacorgasmico and NoPa's Green Chile Kitchen, are gone now, and there a couple of newcomers to the scene.
The Chronicle has hired a new full-time restaurant critic, MacKenzie Chung Fegan, to replace the erstwhile critic Soleil Ho. (That was in June, but Fegan's byline has not yet appeared and it looks like she had a baby in August.) In the meantime, associate critic Cesar Hernandez has been filling in, and this week he offered up his ranked list of his top five burritos in the city.
Hernandez said he surveyed all the existing lists online, and "many of those rankings don’t hold the same weight they once did." And somehow, BIZARRELY, he finds no top-five-level love for Taqueria Cancun, which has consistently been SFist's fave over the years, particularly for the al pastor.
Hernandez casts his votes for El Farolito (#5), saying "Carne asada is the move here," and "In spite of the gamut of ingredients, each component plays off of each other well without distracting from the asada"; Chuy's Fiestas (#4), where he likes the rice-less, "massive, crispy flattop burrito"; tortilla specialists La Palma Mexicatessen (#3); and La Espiga de Oro (#2), which has also long been an SFist fave, and where he recommends the chicharron.
For Hernandez's new #1, he crowns relative newcomer La Vaca Birria, which opened a couple years back in the former Pig & Pie/Discolandia space on 24th Street. Hernandez praises the delicious homemade tortillas made with rendered beef tallow, as well as the char-roasted salsas, and the rich, flavorful birria — which the restaurant also uses to make popular quesabirria tacos. And he recommends the grilled cheese burrito as being "the taqueria’s more memorable take on the Mission burrito," because it has a "thick cheese skirt that corrects the cold cheese issue of many other burritos."
SFist sampled the work of La Vaca Birria, and it is a very tasty and satisfying birria burrito. The meat is delicious, as is the tortilla. The onions are nicely, finely diced, and the charred jalapeno salsa is indeed a winning addition.
Is it the city's best, and does it rival, say, a super al pastor from Cancun, or a dorado-style carne asada from La Taqueria? That is surely up to personal preference. And does everyone remember when the Five Thirty Eight did a burrito bracket in 2014 and La Taq beat out every other burrito in the nation?? We balked at that at the time, but the place continues to have many ardent fans.
Previously: The 15 Best Burrito Spots In SF
La Vaca Birria - 2962 24th Street, San Francisco - Available for takeout or on Uber Eats