At this point in our quest to find America’s best burrito, correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester has traveled across the South — from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Longview, Texas. She has narrowed the region’s field of 16 burritos to the four that will advance to the next round in our Burrito Bracket. The finalists are:
— The adovada burrito from Little Donkey in Homewood, Alabama. It barely beat out the cayo fish burrito at Garbo’s Grill in Key West, Florida, with scores of 80 and 77 (out of 100), respectively. The determining factors were the quality of the tortilla, the protein (adovada) and the presentation.
“Just about everything in the adovada burrito sings with flavor and attention to detail,” Anna said in her first review. “The adovada is thick pieces of pork shoulder that fall apart in silky layers, earthy chile peeking out of great smoky southern barbecue. The tortilla is rustic in texture and feel, and griddled until it’s charred in spots. The salsa isn’t spicy but brings an air of freshness to a heavy plate of meat and beans.”
— The carne asada burrito from Tortilleria y Taqueria Ramirez in Lexington, Kentucky, which got a score of 91. The tortilla earned a perfect 20 (impressive but not entirely surprising, given the restaurant’s name), and the burrito did superbly in every other category as well.
“With no offense to the previous contestants, Ramirez restored my faith in Southern burritos,” Anna said of the winner. “I feared that my excitement would lead me to an inflated score, but I feel strongly that this is objectively an awesome burrito, and it deserves a chance at a showdown with the greats of California.”
— The pork and green chili burrito from Atlanta’s Bell Street Burrito. This burrito had multiple standout qualities, with the tortilla, pork and overall flavor profile being the most significant factors in its win.
“Bell Street is thoughtful in its approach and ingredients. The green chilies caught me by surprise; they were cut in long, thin strips, blistered and glowing from the kiss of an oven, perfectly astringent without being bitter,” Anna wrote. “It was a reverence to the green shoulder-less gods I’d previously seen only in New Mexico.”
— The sausage-and-egg breakfast burrito served by the Breakfast Burritos Anonymous food truck in Houston. After Anna tracked down the truck via Twitter, this burrito did well in all categories, earning respectable 16s across the board.
“The breakfast burritos are expertly rolled and bundled up as perfect little packages,” Anna said of the only breakfast burrito she ate in the South. “The sausage was spicy, pungent, crumbly and perfectly in tune with the eggs and potato.”
Anna’s now moving across the rest of the country, trying the best burritos that the Northeast, West and California have to offer. Each region will produce four winners, for a total of 16 finalists that will make it to the second round.
If you’re curious about the scoring system, read “The FiveThirtyEight Burrito-Rating System, Explained” and watch the following video, in which Anna applies the rating system — and her dissection tools — to Taco Bell’s Burrito Supreme. (Don’t worry, it’s just an example. “Live Más” isn’t always the best advice.)