What's The Difference Between The San Diego And LA-Style Burrito?

Most people have heard of the Mission-style burrito in San Francisco, which has been copied and imitated nationwide, but do you know the difference between the San Diego and LA burrito style? The most obvious difference is the San Diego California burrito focuses more on popular American add-ons including guacamole and french fries, whereas the LA-style burrito focuses on the core of what makes a burrito and is more of a mom-and-pop execution — it is not big or taking up space in the room, it just exists.

 According to LaJolla.com, a style of burrito popularized in San Diego, known as California burritos or Cali style, contain a notable difference in the inclusion of french fries or potatoes inside the burrito, added to carne asada, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. The french fries give a warm and soft center and a recognizable flavor in each bite. California burritos can be found in most taco shops and restaurants in San Diego, though much like other variants, how it is made and the toppings available can vary from location to location. It will always feature french fries, though.

A Northern California native might criticize the Mission-style burrito or Super Burrito because of how much rice they stuff into it trying to fill the burrito, which does not happen as often with LA's smaller burritos. LA-style burritos are composed of refried beans, salsa, and yellow cheese with a choice of meat, and focus on the meat itself. 

The subject of regional debate

Both are important to their respective communities. The origin of San Diego's California burrito is not clear. One theory is that the burrito was invented at Santana's or at Roberto's Taco Shop locations, although not even the original owners will claim they created it. It seems like one day the concept just spread through the kitchens in the region. The burrito does not have much traction outside of the San Diego region and food snobs from other regions tend to scoff at the inclusion of french fries or potatoes, but as San Diego Eater reminds us, "...whoever thinks carne asada and French fries don't belong together forgets that meat and potatoes are a universal duo." San Diego's California burrito continues to be a San Diego exclusive with little recognition outside the area.

On the flip side, the LA-Style burrito is not as popular outside of southern California and would likely be considered a basic burrito up north in San Francisco. El Cholo is credited with creating the LA-style burrito and popularizing burritos in the United States in the 1930s, but that is another fact that remains disputed. As David L. Garcia of The Bold Italic describes the LA Burrito, "They are simple, messy and incredibly delicious, and while they're not as famous nationally as the Mission-style burrito, they're still as integral to the soul of the city as its northern counterpart."