Honeymoon Suite Burrito at Hotel Tortuga
Vegetarians, rejoice! At Hotel Tortuga, meatless burritos aren't just a beef order, hold the meat. The veg-friendly menu is nearly endless, but the Honeymoon Suite Burrito is the one that wows us time and time again. While mole wrap-ups are rarely a vegan-friendly dish, this iteration swaps in portobello mushrooms for animal protein, bringing a ton of flavor to an otherwise produce-focused version. Pair that dark, cinnamon-infused sauce with vegan cheese and tofu sour cream, and you've got a burrito that any meat lover would be down to share. (Good thing these bad boys are huge!)
Hotel Tortuga, 246 East 14th Street (between 2nd and 3rd avenues); 212-228-1884.
Chicken Mole Burrito from Downtown Bakery
Highly regarded as one of the best in the city, Downtown Bakery specializes in real Mexican food — not the type of beans-and-rice combination you'll find just about anywhere. Its tortas are authentic, the handmade tamales don't compare, and for the purists, there are even bottles of Mexican Coke. Best part, though? The Chicken Mole Burrito, which comes wrapped up tightly with marinated mole poblano chicken, yellow rice, refried black beans, and jack cheese, and is topped with a double-dousing of rich mole sauce. It may not be what every patron visits the non-descript East Village storefront for, but it's definitely what keeps them coming back.
Downtown Bakery, 69 1st Avenue (between 4th and 5th streets); 212-254-1757.
Bulgogi Burrito from Korilla BBQ
Known for shaking up the food truck game as the first Korean Taco joint in NYC, this duo of trucks brings overseas cuisine to a portable format that allows for trying a range of authentic flavors in a totally atypical way. Korilla BBQ swaps things like kimchee and sticky rice in for the standard rice and beans, has house-made tofu and an array of organic veggies on the menu, and even offers bacon and kimchi fried rice as an option. If you've never had a taste, it's definitely worth a try, and the Bulgogi Burrito is just the place to start. Packed with Black Angus ribeye steak cooked in traditional Korean style and piled high with Korilla sauce, your choice of rice and kimchi and all the fixins, it's one of the few things in life worth waiting in line for. Track the trucks on Twitter, parse through the doodle-heavy menu, and be sure to inquire about the pickle bar!
Korilla BBQ Trucks, check today's location here.
As one of the most talked-about restaurants in NYC at the moment, El Toro Blanco is the place to be for everything from tacos to throwing back 100+ types of tequila, all amidst its kitschy-cute '60s decor. The restaurant is bustling at dinnertime and solid for a group brunch, but you can only get the namesake wrap-up, the ETB Burrito, on weekday afternoons. Our game plan: Tell your boss you have a tummyache and high tail it over to Greenwich Village to indulge in the mix of Mexican red rice, pinto beans, avocado, pico de gallo, crema, and Oaxaca cheese. We know, it's not the most honest method of burrito indulgence, but having to choose between chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp to pair with this lunch-only offering will be way more difficult than lying.
El Toro Blanco, 257 6th Avenue (between Bedford and Downing streets); 212-645-0193.
We're not sure if anyone's ever officially given April Bloomfield the title "Queen of Meat," but if they haven't, we'll consider the job done. As the chef-owner of the West Village's famed gastropub, The Spotted Pig, as well as The Breslin, and John Dory Oyster Bar inside the Ace Hotel, April's proved she knows her way around a four-legged animal. (Her book's title, after all, is A Girl And Her Pig.) So, naturally, when she and partner Ken Friedman decided to foray into Mexican food with Salvation Taco, it was bound to be a delicious, meaty rendezvous. The lunch, dinner, and newly announced brunch menus at the Pod39 hotel outpost are home runs, but the only time of day you can get a Bloomfield burrito happens to be in the morning. Whether you go for the grilled, Guajillo-marinated skirt steak with scrambled eggs and tomato habanero salsa option or the vegetarian, mushroom-and-egg offering is up to you. But, with these heavy-hitters at the helm — and roasted poblano biscuits on the menu — you're bound to enjoy it regardless.
Salvation Taco at the Pod39 Hotel, 145 East 39th Street (between Lexington and 3rd avenues); 212-865-5800.
Photgraphed by Samantha Mancuso
Calexico, 645 Manhattan Avenue (between Bedford and Norman avenues); Brooklyn; 347-763-2129.
La Esquina, 114 Kenmare Street (between Centre and Lafayette streets); 646-613-7100.
Tehuitzingo Deli and Grocery, 695 Tenth Avenue (between 47th and 48th streets); 212-397-5956.
Good for groups, great for parties, and even better for pigging out, this Brooklyn mainstay is home to some of the best sit-down Mexican in the 'Burg. Its prowess for varied ingredients is as prominent as its creativity, which is viewable on every part of the expansive burrito menu, separated into categories between traditional offerings and signature ones. Having drawn influence from the Mexican diaspora, flavors hail from California, Colorado, and even the Lone Star State — it's the latter menu that really shows off inventive takes on tasty classics, like the mind-blowing Güera Burrito. A bacon, cheese, and potato mixture with fried serranos, salsa fresca, and crema comprises the dish, but what really pushes it over the top is the annotation above it: "Add chicken or avocado for a club sandwich effect for $2 more." A menu that encourages you to have a burrito do double-duty as a classic American sandwich? That's not only hilarious, but downright phenomenal.
Taco Chulo, 318 Grand Street (between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue); Brooklyn; 718-302-2485.
Cecina Burrito from La Espiguita
La Espiguita, 32-44 31st St (between Broadway and 34th Avenue); Queens; 718-777-5648.
Dos Toros, 11 Carmine Street (between Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue); 212-627-2351; 1111 Lexington Avenue (between 77th and 78th streets); 212-535-4658; 137 4th Avenue (between 13th and 14th streets); 212-677-7300.
Lupe's East LA Kitchen, 110 Sixth Avenue (at Watts Street); 212-966-1326.
Considering how many options we considered to be "the best," we weren't sure if anyone else understood burritos like we do. That is, until we were introduced to Pepe Urquijo, the man behind the San Francisco Mission District to-be-taqueria, B'klyn Burro. When we say San Francisco-style, we're not just talking tinfoil-wrapped carb torpedos and California-fresh ingredients, either. After searching S.F. far and wide, Pepe flew a chef out with fifteen years experience to replicate the Mission's exact take on Mexican grub for East Coasters. And, without a well-known cart, a Twitter-enhanced truck, or even a storefront, B'klyn Burro has taken the neighborhood by storm...before disappearing at the beginning of March. Never fear, though — the team has only been testing the waters at events and pop-ups and will be back soon, but we're already anxious to give its Penca de Maguey cactus-enhanced spiciness a try upon its return. Keep your eyes peeled, and if you’re anything like us, your hands open and ready.
B'klyn Burro, Location TBD.
If you turn your nose up at beef and cheese burritos and consider tripe to be standard fare, we think we've found the place for you. Out in the heart of Sunset Park resides a bustling Mexican community, and inside of that is Tacos Matamoros, an unparalleled Mexican spot which many consider to be the most authentic (and best!) you can find within New York City limits. Everything on the menu will easily cure your craving for onion and cilantro-topped traditionality, but it’s the burrito offerings that are worth writing home about. Large enough to be eaten over the course of two or even three meals, if you’re a tortilla-bound fanatic, don’t get distracted by the crazy-cheap tacos or anything else up for grabs. Just one bite of a massive carnitas or chorizo iteration will give you the gist of why this place is big-time, but we say switch it up and dive straight into the cabeza offering. If you're going all the way to Sunset Park for a burrito, you might as well take a chance with one that’s authentic enough to be filled with steamed, seasoned cow brains, right? Right.
Tacos Matamoros, 4508 5th Avenue (between 45th and 46th streets); Brooklyn; 718-871-7627.
Fresh & Fast Burrito Deli, 84 Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and State Street), Brooklyn; 718-802-1661.