The best burritos in metro Phoenix: A dining critic ranks her top 5 – The Arizona Republic

In a stroke of divine inspiration that one might also attribute to insanity, I traveled hundreds of miles across the state of Arizona to create the ultimate burrito bucket list. 
After several months of hard work consuming burritos in Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation, down in Phoenix and Tucson and even in Nogales, I compiled a list of the 25 best burritos in the Grand Canyon State. 
And now as my supreme gift to humanity, I am revealing my top five burritos in metro Phoenix, ranked in order of preference.
These burritos represent the best of the best and symbolize our city’s greatest contributions to tortilla-wrapped Mexican food. They are also the ones I’ve gone back to eat again for fun, even after consuming dozens of burritos in the name of research.
So without further ado, I present, the top five burritos that you don’t have to leave town to try. 
See the whole list:Here’s your ultimate list of 25 must-try burros across Arizona
The upscale fishmonger Chula Seafood on Camelback Road makes one of the best seafood burritos I’ve ever had. The California Burrito comes packed with perfectly grilled fish or shrimp, crispy French fries, guacamole and melted Oaxaca cheese. The high-quality ingredients forced me to re-examine my burrito expectations. It is the most expensive burro on my list, but when executed at this level — with sustainable swordfish and a perfect sear on the tortilla that bundles it all in — it’s worth a higher price tag. No sides are required, although I did appreciate the freshly fried tortilla chips that came with it.   
Details: California burrito ($19) at Chula Seafood, 100 E. Camelback Road, Suite 172, Phoenix. 602-354-3599,
More seafood:An Ahwatukee seafood shack is dishing up blue crabs 
When you see the fiery mesquite grill, your thoughts immediately go to carne asada. This is why it wasn’t until my fourth visit that I discovered the sleeper hit at this Roosevelt Row taqueria — the cabeza burrito. Now I will order nothing but this luscious, fatty ranchland delicacy, made with head meat that’s steamed slow and low until it’s fall-off-the-skull tender. Cabeza meat often comes finely shredded, but at Taco Boy’s it’s plump and reddish in color with decadent globules of fat. Even more velvety and delicious than the famous version served at Taquería El Chino Mario in Hermosillo, this is by far the best cow face I’ve ever consumed.
Details: Cabeza burro ($8.99) at Taco Boy’s, 620 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix. Also, 1015 S. Rural Road, Tempe.
I had already determined that this rajas burrito was one of the best in Arizona, but I had to go back anyway just to “double check.” On my latest visit the burrito was just as good, maybe even better, than I remembered. It’s made in the style of Chihuahua, rolled thin and open on the ends. Fat slabs of peppers and onions swim in an ethereal cream sauce. But what really sets the burrito apart is the fluffy tortilla. The restaurant’s kitchen staff follow the recipe of owner Fernando Hernández’s mom, Ana Saldaña — just flour, water and vegetable shortening, with no preservatives — prepared fresh from masa every morning.
Details: Rajas burrito ($5) at Testal Mexican Kitchen, 1325 NW Grand Ave., suite 1, Phoenix. 602-384-9993,
Get these:Chihuahua-style burritos rival the best Sonoran burros in Phoenix
 Served at an old-school Mexican spot that’s been tucked into the Garfield neighborhood near downtown Phoenix since 1977, there’s simply nothing like a Rito’s burrito in Los Angeles, Chicago or even the great state of Texas. While some burritos are all about the filling, this one is all about the flawless flour tortilla— the fluffy hot kind that people beg you to send them in the mail — which comes loosely tucked with green chile beef sauce spilling out of the corners.
I enjoyed the green chile burrito even better the second time I ate it, when I had it stuffed with refried beans and cheese for an extra 50 cents. The beans help with consistency, and added an extra creamy oomph. 
Details: Green chile beef burrito ($8.85) at the original Rito’s Mexican Food location, 907 N. 14th St., Phoenix. 602-262-9842,
Believe the hype:This Phoenix Mexican restaurant really is one of the best in America
This was the very last burrito I tried during the making of my list. But after one taste of the crackling hot carne asada at Ta’Carbon, I knew I’d found the best in the Valley. Hundreds of other people seemed to know it too, because they were streaming in and out of the Glendale spot and fighting for space at the salsa bar, while calf testicles grilled over open flames.
The burrito that won my heart was the campechano, which provides a pure taste of Sonora with its combination of smoky carne asada and crunchy tripas, my absolute favorite offal.
I’ve tried many tripas around town, but until Ta’Carbon, none provided that salty gristle underneath the creamy meat, with just the right amount of crunch. This burro delivers with just the right ratio of tripas to carne asada, served piping hot in a golden brown, griddled flour tortilla.
If you get a second burrito, try the barbacoa, which has a wonderful smoky flavor that takes the shreds of tender pork to the next level. These burritos were so good, they made me realize something had been missing from my life in Phoenix up to that point. Now that I have this burro in my life, I am truly complete.  
Details: Campechano burro ($8) at Ta’Carbon, 5834 W. Camelback Road, Glendale. 623-463-8134,
Listen up:Is the best Mexican food in Phoenix or Tucson? Valley 101 podcast finds out
Reach reporter Andi Berlin at Follow her on Facebook @andiberlin,  Instagram @andiberlin or Twitter @andiberlin.
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