Food for Soul

Where to find the best breakfast burritos in L.A.

A cut-open and stacked breakfast burrito on a blue plate.
BY BILL ADDISONRESTAURANT CRITIC AUG. 28, 2021 6:30 AM PT

My colleague Ben Mims and I were sharing a strangely sweet veggie breakfast burrito at a cafe in West Hollywood. It was one of many stops in a project to name my top choices for L.A.’s favorite morning food. Ben wondered how it was going. “Are you sick of eating breakfast burritos yet?” he asked.

My brain froze for a moment. “I guess I can’t even think about it in those terms,” I finally replied. “The more I eat, the more distinct each one is from the next. That’s what makes it fun.”

Researching breakfast burritos in Southern California could be a year-round occupation: The options are infinite. I named 24 of the best I ate after a monthlong hunt. (The place in West Hollywood did not make the cut.) They express the synergy where everything comes together: Satisfying tortilla meets harmonies of egg and other ingredients.ADVERTISEMENT

It’s hard to consider the list as anything more than a living document, something to be built upon as I chase follow-up recommendations. Like sandwiches and burgers, everybody has opinions on the best breakfast burritos. I’d love to hear yours.

(And apologies, Orange County: I was too overpowered by the bounty of Los Angeles to make serious inroads into your breakfast burrito culture. My colleague and fellow burrito aficionado Gustavo Arellano highly recommends Athenian III in Buena Park.)Newsletter

Eat your way across L.A.

This project felt familiar. I’ve landed on the burrito beat before in my career, most calorically at the San Francisco Chronicle in 2006, where my editor urged me, a new arrival to the city, into a farflung assessment of the Bay Area’s Mission-style taqueria tradition. I made it to 85 taquerias in 10 weeks. I remember how the “special carnitas burrito” at Pancho’s in Laurel Heights was made with pork so juicy it melded with the refritos into a kind of gravy, and I was sure celery seed lurked in the rice. How did this burrito taste like turkey and stuffing? Things had gotten hallucinatory.

Breakfast burrito from Lowkey Burritos.

Instagram changed the way I ate burritos. At the Chronicle, I tackled a burrito from the top and at least halfway down. Mission-style burritos — bulging with rice, beans, meats, salsa and guacamole — evolve as you eat them. The textures shift, the flavors mingle. The effect at the end of a great one is a feeling of sensory completion, not just from a full stomach but in the way one can look at an artist’s canvas and innately know the painting is finished.

Today, in the age where the camera eats first, we halve the burrito to show off its melting, striated innards. Then we literally start eating in the middle. In a breakfast burrito, I realized, the goal is more uniformity in every bite. That sense of evolution is less a part of the overall pleasure.

My favorite non-breakfast burritos in L.A. — among them the Burrito 2.0 with grilled steak at Sonoratown, the deshebrada (shredded beef in green chile) at Burritos La Palma and the cheese-gushing chile relleno option at La Azteca Tortilleria — tend to be more compact than their Mission-style counterparts. These I still eat top down; the camera goes hungry. But the wider subject of non-breakfast burritos is a thesis and an adventure for another day.

Jenn Harris literally licks the plate in her zeal for another tortilla-wrapped masterpiece: the pastrami taco at Malli, Elizabeth Heitner and Nestor Silva’s “Mexican-inspired Jewish pop-up.”

Ben Mims rounds up a collection of recipes ideal for Labor Day weekend cooking, including grilled rib-eye with pistachio gremolata, whole chicken cooked Peruvian-style and panna cotta with summer fruit.

Stephanie Breijo reports on Ceci’s Gastronomia, the new Silver Lake marketplace from Francesca Pistorio and Francesco Lucatorto that channels dishes from Liguria and Emilia-Romagna, including Lucatorto’s classic lasagna. They’re building on the following they accrued during the run of their Ceci’s Oven pop-up last year.

Stephanie also has the news on fresh openings, including Yojimbo on Fairfax Avenue, serving donburi and Japanese American dishes; and Rumba Kitchen, serving Puerto Rican food in Little Tokyo.

Focaccina at Ceci's Gastronomia

Eat your way across L.A.

Bill Addison is a James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic. He was previously national critic for Eater and has held critic positions at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and Atlanta magazine.

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