The state burrito

illustration by mark stivers

The state’s namesake burrito, according to Mexican fast-food historian Gustavo Arellano (of ¡Ask a Mexican! fame), first gained popularity in San Diego during the early 1980s. Upon visiting San Diego, I ate my first California burrito sometime in the early 2000s: a large tortilla stuffed with carne asada, french fries, cheese and sour cream. Later, during my college years in Orange County, I’d frequent Mexican restaurants with names such as Alberto’s, Alerto’s, Roberto’s, Alberta’s and Albertaco’s—all of which served the deliciously greasy hangover-curing burrito. Keeping the de facto “-erto” suffix tradition alive, local restaurant Adalberto’s Mexican Food serves up its own version. But my personal favorite California burritos in Sacramento come from El Forastero Mexican Food (various locations, and East Sac Midtown Taqueria (3754 J Street). El Forastero’s burrito is the classic version: essentially an order of carne asada fries wrapped in a tortilla. At Midtown Taqueria, you can order any burrito “California style,” with fries in lieu of rice.