Breakfast burrito daydreams

SN&R goes on a quest for a vegan breakfast burrito that offers savory flavors and a variety of textures

Illustration by Mark Stivers

I miss breakfast burritos. I do. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life being vegan, but I still daydream about what I consider the king of breakfast burritos, a standard affair elevated by its inclusion of tater tots. Maybe you’re not as excited about tater tots in a breakfast burrito as I am. Perhaps you’ve never had tater tots in a breakfast burrito. Please accept my condolences.

Anyway, having a savory, greasy, portable breakfast option is on my short list of vegan regrets. There are a handful of places for a breakfast burrito that’s vegan or customizable, but Sacramento has a few places that go beyond the acceptable-but-rote scrambled tofu, Daiya shreds and pico de gallo trio.

There’s a difference between a breakfast burrito and a burrito for breakfast, and I’m not sure which Simpleton’s Vegan Burrito would be. But it’s filled with soyrizo, potatoes and—praise the lord—refried beans! Saving the long, exhausting lard inquisition that usually goes along with ordering refried beans puts Simpleton in the running for vegan sainthood. It’s hearty and satisfying, but the potatoes are a bit soft, and combined with the beans, I wanted a variation in texture that the soyrizo just wasn’t enough to counter. Still, it’s a filling meal, and it’s available 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., so you’ve got a solid three to four hours to call it breakfast.

Capitol Garage has two vegan breakfast burritos: the Verde and the Tofu. The Verde, including spinach and zucchini, seems to veer more into that burrito for breakfast, not breakfast burrito realm, so I prefer the tofu. Though it’s listed as scrambled on the menu, every time I order it, it has been cubes of fried tofu—which is great. A truly excellent breakfast burrito should have a hangover-recovery feel, even if you’re not a drinker. Finding a well-fried potato before 11 a.m. seems to be a challenge in Sacramento, but Capital Garage does it, and the crispness of the potato in this one shoots it close to the top of my list of breakfast burrito go-tos. Between the fried tofu, potatoes, black beans and guacamole, the mix of textures on the Capital Garage burrito is excellent.

El Papagayo in Carmichael doesn’t have a dedicated vegan breakfast menu, but it offers one of the area’s best breakfast burritos. I have a strong aversion to ordering off-menu and give side-eye to those who do, but El Papagayo bends over backwards to accommodate vegans. It has a full vegan dinner menu, and it turns out the staff is happy to veganize most of the breakfast offerings, too. They are accommodating to the point of being cavalier. What they offer is essentially a build-your-own model, and when properly finessed, the result fills my need for a solid, savory mess of a breakfast: fried tofu, potatoes, avocado, pico and vegan cheese, plus salsa. I’d love to see one added permanently to ease my off-menu guilt.