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Get Ready For Round 2 In Our Search For America’s Best Burrito

The first round of the Burrito Bracket is finished, which means we have selected the 16 best burritos in America. To recap, our Burrito Selection Committee determined the top 64 burrito-selling establishments in the United States, which were then divided evenly among four regions. Our burrito correspondent, Anna Maria Barry-Jester, traveled the country from Key West, Florida, to Honolulu and narrowed the list to the top four contenders from each region, 16 in all.

Unlike the process to determine the 64 burrito-selling establishments that would be in the bracket (this involved something called a VORB, or Value Over Replacement Burrito, score), the judging system is simple. Burritos contended for 20 possible points in five categories: tortilla, main protein, other ingredients, presentation and overall flavor profile.

Anna will travel back to the top 16 restaurants, eat all of those burritos again, and narrow the list to four, from which the overall winner will be chosen. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of the burrito-selling establishments that have made it this far:

South

  • Little Donkey in Homewood, Alabama
    • Adovada burrito
    • Score: 80
    • Best attributes: All (16 points each)
  • Tortilleria y Taqueria Ramirez in Lexington, Kentucky
    • Carne asada burrito
    • Score: 91
    • Best attribute: Tortilla (20 points)
  • Bell Street Burritos in Atlanta
    • Pork and green chili burrito
    • Score: 78
    • Best attributes: Tortilla, pork, flavor profile (16 points each)
  • Breakfast Burritos Anonymous in Houston
    • Sausage-and-egg breakfast burrito
    • Score: 80
    • Best attributes: All (16 points each)

West

  • Cabo Bob’s Burritos in Austin, Texas
    • Brisket and queso burrito
    • Score: 74
    • Best attribute: Tortilla (16 points)
  • The Pantry in Santa Fe, New Mexico
    • Adovada burrito
    • Score: 88
    • Best attribute: Adovada (20 points)
  • Carolina’s Mexican Food in Phoenix
    • Red machaca burrito
    • Score: 89
    • Best attribute: Tortilla
  • Delicious Mexican Eatery in El Paso, Texas
    • Green chili and pork burrito
    • Score: 92
    • Bes attribute: Flavor profile (20 points)

Northeast

  • La Pasadita in Chicago
    • Carne asada burrito
    • Score: 85
    • Best attribute: Carne asada (19 points)
  • Taqueria Tlaxcalli in the Bronx
    • Carne asada burrito
    • Score: 91
    • Best attributes: Carne asada, presentation and flavor profile (19 points each)
  • Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant in Atlantic City, New Jersey
    • Carnitas burrito
    • Score: 88
    • Best attribute: Tortilla (20 points)
  • El Pelón Taqueria in Boston
    • El Guapo burrito
    • Score: 79
    • Best attributes: Tortilla, other ingredients, presentation and flavor profile (16 points each)

California

  • Al & Bea’s in Los Angeles, California
    • Bean and cheese with green chile burrito
    • Score: 96
    • Best attributes: Tortilla, refried beans and presentation (20 points each)
  • Lolita’s Taco Shop in San Diego
    • Carne asada burrito
    • Score: 88
    • Best attributes: Tortilla, other ingredients, flavor profile (18 points each)
  • La Taqueria in San Francisco
    • Carnitas burrito
    • Score: 98
    • Best attributes: Carnitas, other ingredients, presentation and flavor profile (20 points each)
  • Taqueria Cancún in San Francisco
    • Al pastor super burrito
    • Score: 94
    • Best attributes: Al pastor and presentation (20 points each)

The big news from California isn’t which restaurants made it into the second round, but which one didn’t. El Farolito, the legendary San Francisco taqueria, was ousted by nearby Taqueria Cancún.

That’s why field testing is necessary. VORB scores can’t convey the complete reality of the handmade tortillas, juicy steak and fresh vegetables singing together in the harmonious experience that is a winning burrito.

Hayley Munguia is a former social media editor and a data reporter for FiveThirtyEight.

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