Welcome to Santa Barbara’s First-Ever Burrito Week
Enjoy These 17 Burritos for Just $7 Across Town from September 23 to 29
By Indy Staff | September 23, 2021
Whether you’re a NorCal kid who grew up on rice-stuffed logs developed in San Francisco’s Mission District, an L.A. dweller who chased down cheesy and refried-bean-soaked bites, or a SoCal settler who prefers the crunch of French fries in your San Diego spin, the burrito occupies one of the tallest thrones in the pantheon of California cuisine.
Santa Barbara sits squarely in the middle of this tortilla-wrapped landscape. We are home to countless restaurants serving traditional Mexican-style burritos — which offer reliable, belly-stuffing comfort, thanks to the usual inclusion of rice and beans — as well as establishments whose modernized versions amplify veggies over meat, completely ditch the customary carbs, or veer into other global cuisines with just a nod to the burrito’s basic architecture.
In celebration of this burrito bounty, the Santa Barbara Independent is launching our first-ever Burrito Week, which we plan to make an annual affair. For seven days, from September 23 – 29, 16 participating restaurants will be serving $7 burritos (17 of them, in fact, because one location is serving two).
To give a sense of what to expect, we sent out our hungry team to sample these burritos, snap some smartphone pics, and return with a report on what you can expect. There are nine burritos that fall more into the traditional camp, and then three breakfast, one veggie, one vegan, and one featuring South Asian flavors. And, as is becoming a tradition in our annual Burger Week, dessert is on the table too, with two sweet burritos to try, as well.
So dig in, tag your photos #sbindyburritoweek on Instagram, and celebrate Burrito Week 2021! Follow along at independent.com/burritoweek.
El Zarape: Breakfast Pasilla Pepper Burrito
For many years, my solution to any problem was duct tape, hydrogen peroxide, and whatever squirts out the heated end of a hot glue gun. I have since seen the light and have expanded this list to include the mighty and wondrous pasilla chile. Few meals are not vastly improved by the addition of a blackened pasilla chile, which, if I bothered to check, are probably bursting with antioxidants, able to retard the aging process, and a cure for cancer. But in the meantime, I’m happy to just to glory in their sublime combination of heat and light.
In this vein, I was thrilled to learn El Zarape — which for 20 years has anchored the flourishing commercial ecosystem epicentered at the intersection of San Andres and Micheltorena streets — has just added the Pasilla Breakfast Burrito to its morning menu. One of the great things about El Zarape over the years has been the size of its breakfast burritos: Unlike many on the market, they are not as large as a watermelon or even a football. When it comes to size, they are just right. Nor are they designed to provide the owners a handy disposal route for excess rice and potatoes. The restraint shown has long been appreciated by Westside residents looking for a breakfast that’s quick, cheap, and tasty.
The Pasilla Breakfast Burrito comes equipped with eggs, potatoes, pasillas, and for good measure, avocado, served in a lightly crisped tortilla. For those looking to blow their heads off, try the super-hot habanero salsa. For those looking for a quieter way to start the day, I’d suggest the green tomatillo salsa or the red ajillo.
Available 7-11 a.m., Mon.-Fri., and all day, Sat-Sun. 1435 San Andres St.; (805) 899-2711; elzarapesantabarbara.com
The Andersen’s Danish Bakery: The Sweetest Little Burrito
Just when I thought I had tried everything there is when it comes to burritos, Andersen’s “Sweetest Little Burrito” took my taste buds by storm. Created by Charlotte Andersen especially for your enjoyment to commemorate our inaugural Burrito Week, their “tortilla” made of a chewy marzipan almond meringue drizzled with an Earl Grey tea icing “crema” is rolled to perfection. Inside is a fluffy layer of a mocha cream as the frijoles, shreds of kiwi and strawberries for bell peppers, and little chocolate chunks for a surprise crunch. Not only is this sweet treat playful and gluten-free, it also is garnished with a caramelized jalapeño which unites all the flavors together in a scrumptious way. This little burrito would be excellent with a nice cup of hot chocolate, champurrado, or un cafecito. I will definitely be coming back. ¡Provecho!
Available after noon daily. 1106 State St.; (805) 962-5085; andersenssantabarbara.com
The Natural Café: Buddha Burrito
As a veggie entrée, the Buddha Burrito at the Natural Café is the real deal. Stuffed — and we do mean stuffed — with brown rice, pinto beans, onion, squash, and a rainbow of yellow, green, and red peppers, this whole-wheat wrap satisfies the soul and calms the conscience of anyone seeking to feast a bit lower on the food chain. The toppings of guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and ranchero sauce are artful, and the milk-based ones can be easily subbed for vegan choices made with soy, as our cheerful server Heidi Zamora informed us. A green salad comes as a side, though it, too, exceeds expectations, replete with red cabbage and onion, carrots, tomatoes, and sprouts. Altogether, the Buddha Burrito and its buddies make a generous plate that’s scripted to be shared or enjoyed after a long, hard, hungry day.
Available at State Street, Hitchcock, and Camino Real locations. thenaturalcafe.com
Super Cucas: Community Burrito
I sat on the sunny patio at Super Cucas on Micheltorena Street, soaking up the neighborhood vibe and trying not to drool. I knew what to expect because Super Cucas has been my family’s go-to burrito spot for years. It’s not the first bite of a Super Cucas burrito that hooks you, as the flaky tortilla gives way to offer just a hint of the deliciousness inside. It’s not even the second bite, as you get a true taste of the spicy, savory meat. You know you’re hooked by the third bite, when the juicy filling blends completely with the rice and beans, and your taste buds’ expectations are exceeded.
Super Cucas is not fancy, nor are their burritos. The Community Burrito contains rice, beans, onions, and cilantro, plus your choice of meat — carne asada, pastor, pollo, or carnitas — all wrapped in a humongous flour tortilla. I chose carnitas and probably could have been satisfied without any salsa. But mild green, medium red, and spicy-hot habanero salsa options begged to be sloshed on as I plowed through my beautiful burrito. I gobbled as much as I possibly could and then enjoyed the Super Cucas bonus: a burrito for lunch means there’s half a burrito left over for dinner, too.
One burrito per customer. At the Micheltorena, Mesa and Isla Vista locations. supercucasrestaurant.com
Benchmark Eatery: Burrito Mojado
Benchmark Eatery’s bar is back open, offering a view that overlooks their iconic patio at the corner of State and Anapamu — you know, the one that makes you feel like you’re on vacation every time you take a seat. This week, pair your beverage with the Burrito Mojado, which may just be the biggest, fattest, and wettest burrito in town. Its large flour tortilla is swaddled around tender, bite-sized chunks of carne asada black beans, green rice, pico de gallo, and cheese sauce, then doused in a house-made enchilada sauce that’s perfectly red in color, thick not watery, and smoky not hot. With stripes of more cheddar cream sauce aesthetically placed across the top and then sprinkled with pico de gallo, this is an edible work of art. This is way more than a grab-’n’-go burrito; it’s a complete Mexican dinner.
No restrictions. 1201 State St.; (805) 845-2600; benchmarkeatery.com
Little Kitchen: Tikka Masala Curry Burrito
Little Kitchen’s tikka masala curry burrito is a delightful fusion of a Mexican-food concept with an Indian-food flavor profile. Instead of eating them one at a time, or spooning some on top of the other, jasmine rice and tender dark-meat chicken in a warm, rich, creamy tomato curry sauce are unified within a tortilla. This is a delicious, comforting entrée on its own, but it’s served with a raita sauce made of yogurt, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and spices. Add a spoonful of this light and fresh tasting sauce with a little squeeze of lime juice to really complement the deep, savory flavors from the burrito and give your mouth something to remember.
Dinner hours only. 17 W. Ortega St.; (805) 770-2299; littlekitchensb.com
Taquería Santa Barbara: Al Pastor Burrito
Taquería Santa Barbara may be a newcomer to the scene, operating for just over a year at its prime location on State Street, across from the from The Granada Theatre and right next to McDonald’s. But father-and-daughter owners Lalo and Eva Umejido are serving up some seriously authentic al pastor in tacos, tortas, and yes, burritos.
The Al Pastor Burrito comes packed with the marinated, freshly cut, spit-roasted pork; Mexican rice; refried beans; cheese; cilantro; and onion. The meat is the star of the show, and watching the man wielding a footlong shawarma blade slicing the amber-colored bits of pork straight off the rotating grill is enough to get anybody’s mouth watering.
They offer a variety of house-made salsas, but their specialty is a unique, creamy pineapple-based salsa that’s sweet, smoky, and offers a silky-smooth contrast to the bold flavors of the meat, rice, and cheese. Paired together, the al pastor and pineapple salsa make for a combo that’s tough to beat and a can’t-miss burrito for Santa Barbara.
—Ryan P. Cruz
Served all day. 1213 State St., Ste. A; (805) 869-6618; taqueriasb.com
The Blue Owl: Kale Me Sweetheart Burrito
Imagine this sweet and spicy rainbow: A red tomato tortilla stuffed with roasted orange sweet potatoes, finely sliced purple and green cabbage, creamy avocado slices, and crunchy kale that’s been tossed with a vegan chili mayo sauce featuring a touch of cilantro, green onions, and Thai basil. This hefty mélange of vegan and gluten-free goodness was created by Blue Owl owner Nadia Ajlouni especially for Burrito Week.
“I wanted to offer something fun, colorful, and healthy,” explained Aljouni as we sat in the cozy window booth at Blue Owl watching the sun set outside. She could almost be describing the restaurant itself, with its vibrant, plant-filled, boho vibe.
The Kale Me Sweetheart burrito will fit right in. This is no faux-meat-substitute burrito. The veggies proudly assert themselves as substantial chunks of sweet potato balance the crunchy cabbage and kale, and the spicy sauce provides the kick that one expects in a burrito. Carnivores will find plenty of meaty options on Blue Owl’s menu, like the Pork Banh Mi and Thai Basil Cheeseburger, but this week, it’s the Kale Me Sweetheart burrito that takes the spotlight.
Available after 3 p.m. 5 W. Canon Perdido St.; (805) 705-0991; theblueowlsb.com
Rori’s Artisanal Creamery: Fudgy Chocolate Burrito
Rori’s Artisanal Creamery now has five locations scattered across Southern California, and a menu consisting of flavors that often include founder Rori Trovato’s own creative input. Although the menu is now largely fixed, Trovato always finds excitement whenever there is an opportunity to make something new. One day, she might cater to a Levant-themed occasion by utilizing regional flavors such as sumac; another day she might use a farmer’s gift of fresh cherries before they spoil. For Burrito Week, Trovato designed the Fudgy Chocolate Burrito, in which a sweet crepe encloses Rori’s Serious Dark Chocolate ice cream, a delicate poof of whipped cream, and a drizzle of the brand’s popular honey hot fudge sauce. The experience offers three distinct tastes and textures that accentuate each other well. The whole creation is frozen solid, so that one can enjoy it free of mess.
At S.B. Public Market, Coast Village Road in Montecito, and Linden Avenue in Carpinteria locations. rorisartisanalcreamery.com
Yona Redz: Birria Burrito
I’ve eaten plenty of burritos in my day, but the bright-orange tortilla encasing Yona Redz’s birria burrito set it apart from any I’ve ever had before. Prepared in the same way as their classic quesatacos, their burrito begins with the tortilla taking a dip into the same pot where the meat was cooked. After that, it is filled with Monterey Jack cheese, peruano beans, cilantro, onions, freshly prepared jasmine rice, and their signature succulent beef birria. After the burrito is rolled, it takes a trip back to the grill to get a nice, crispy outer layer and to melt the cheese. Be sure to try dipping your burrito in their consommé — the rich, warm broth rushes into your mouth when you take a bite and really takes the entire experience to the next level. Stop by on a weekend to taste their birria made of goat’s meat, which is the traditional Mexican way.
Served all day. 532 State St.; (805) 324-4039; yonaredz.com
Los Agaves: Burrito Especial
All three Los Agaves locations are offering three options for burrito week: a vegetable “garden” version, an al pastor, and a carnitas. The al pastor I tasted at Los Agaves on De la Vina revealed the sophistication and depth of flavors that you will find across the entire Los Agaves menu. The burrito came wrapped in a fresh, thin tortilla that never got chewy, even at the folds. Los Agaves marinates its al pastor for 18 hours in a Yucatán-style achiote, adds diced onions and pineapple, and then blends the tender pork with delicious guajillo-flavored pinto beans before seasoning the burrito with guacamole, crema, and a dusting of shredded lettuce. The result is a marvel of concentrated flavor and texture, each ingredient distinct yet in perfect harmony with the whole.
All Santa Barbara/Goleta locations. los-agaves.com
The Uptown Lounge: Uptown Burrito
Maybe it was watching Clayton Kershaw put on a show on the back patio TVs. (I’m a Giants fan but can appreciate good pitching when I see it.) Maybe it was hearing the crack of pool balls and the cackle of laughter inside, and feeling the cool cocktail in my hand. Or maybe it was wolfing down the flavorsome Uptown Burrito — tri-tip, rice, black beans, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, and homemade salsa — that truly made me forget about life for a while. Most likely, it was the full package. But if you’re not in the mood for a burrito, the Uptown Lounge serves some very tasty wood-fired pizza, too.
3126 State St.; (805) 845-8800; uptownlounge805.com
Home Plate Grill: G-Town Wrap & Train Wreck Wrap
At Home Plate, one of the only true all-American diners left in Santa Barbara County, you can now find two delicious breakfast burritos on the menu. It’s a classic little restaurant with photos of baseball greats on the wall, mainly Yankees, which made me love the place from the get-go. But even if the walls were covered in Red Sox memorabilia, I could not deny how much I enjoyed eating these two burritos.
The G-Town Wrap stuffs two scrambled eggs, grilled tri-tip slices, Italian sausage, Ortega and grilled jalapeño chilis, cheddar cheese, avocado, and a spicy green salsa into a large, nicely sauteed flour tortilla. The Train Wreck Wrap takes two scrambled eggs mixed with crispy bacon, tater tots, cheddar cheese, and a fabulous homemade sausage gravy, also wrapping them in a perfectly sauteed flour tortilla.
I ordered both burritos for take-out, and the friendly, efficient staff cut them in half, wrapped them tightly, and when I arrived home 20 minutes later, they were still piping hot. My husband and I shared each burrito and couldn’t decide which was the most delicious. They both were home runs.
Served daily until 2 p.m. 7398 Calle Real, Ste. C, Goleta; (805) 845-3323; homeplategoleta.com
The Creekside: Creekside Burrito
A longtime hangout on Hollister Avenue in the heart of Noleta, The Creekside ditched a somewhat dicey drinking- hole reputation from years past when it reopened as a family-friendly restaurant — but still with that bustling bar — back in 2017. It’s best known for grilled, roadhouse-style cuisine, such as hamburgers, baby back ribs, chicken, and tri-tip roasted over red oak, but it’s always flirted with Mexican cuisine as well, via mayo-slathered street corn, nachos, quesadillas, and burritos.
They’re serving up the Creekside Burrito as this week’s special, a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs affair full of rice, black beans, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, and your choice of grilled chicken, tri-tip, or veggies. It being a grill spot, I opted for tri-tip, and the smoky chunks were heavy in the mix, framed primarily by that fluffy rice and aided with side salsas and the highly recommendable Cadillac Margarita. My wife went the veggie route and approved. “It’s good,” she said, “and a little messy.”
Available dine-in only, 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Limit one per person per day.
4444 Hollister Ave.; (805) 770-3200; thecreeksidesb.com
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Creekside will be closed during lunch service from Monday, September 27 to Wednesday, September 29, and will no longer be serving their Burrito Week burritos.]
Rudy’s: Original Chile Colorado Burrito
Don’t let the fact that they’re a “chain” — with five locations throughout Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and Buellton — fool you. For 45 years now, Rudy’s has been serving up some of the best Mexican food around, which, for a region that’s known for the cuisine, is really saying something. The family operation reintroduces its Original Chile Colorado Burrito for Burrito Week, a throwback to its early restauranting days and an homage to a traditional Sonoran recipe of tender beef chunks, homemade salsa roja, refried beans, and cheese all wrapped cozily in a flour tortilla. The beauty is in the simplicity with this one, with the hearty meat morsels exhibiting a perfect salt-spice tang and stealing the show.
All locations. rudys-mexican.com
Los Arroyos: Runaway Burrito
If your downtown Santa Barbara life stretches back about two decades, then Los Arroyos will forever claim a soft spot in your heart as the most popular fast-casual Mexican joint in town upon its 1999 opening on West Figueroa Street. Mastermind Tony Arroyo steadily expanded the menu and locations over the years, but the Runaway Burrito remains a staple at every restaurant. Meant to be eaten in your hands, the Runaway is appropriately packed with the right balance of brown beans, cheese, guacamole, and your choice of grilled chicken or al pastor pork, offering just enough food to be stuffed but not so much that you regret that final bite.
This was an easy one for me to dive into, as it’s what I usually order, unless I’m feeling like pozole. To me, the Runaway is simply a bean and cheese burrito with bonus meat, and it serves as a blank slate for enjoying the restaurant’s fresh salsas. This time around, I opted for a spoonful of the chopped habanero atop a slug of that fresh, soothingly green avocado-tomatillo salsa. Wash that all down with sips of cerveza or horchata, and you’ve got the perfectly sized meal.
Available during lunch and dinner, all locations. losarroyos.net