We now know the best four burritos in what we define as the Northeast in our Burrito Bracket. Correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester traveled from Iowa to Maine as part of our search for America’s best burrito and found some gems along the way — including a burrito with a freshly handmade corn tortilla.
We’ve already finished the first-round of reviews in the South and the West, which included a standout breakfast burrito and one burrito that earned a perfect 20 for its flavor profile — the only one to accomplish that feat thus far.
Next, Anna will head to the burrito behemoth that is California, where she’ll determine the final four burritos that will move on to the next round.
For those just tuning in, Anna’s tasting 16 burritos in each region and reviewing them in groups of four, according to a predetermined rating system. The winner of each group moves on to the next round. Here are the winners in the Northeast:
— The carne asada burrito from La Pasadita in Chicago. With a score of 85 out of 100, it barely beat out the carne asada supreme burrito from Iowa City’s La Michoacana, but its tortilla and carne asada scores qualified the La Pasadita specialty for the win.
“Inside a thin, pliable tortilla, a hundred or so small pieces of charred, grilled beef intermingled with finely chopped raw onion and cilantro. The meat had a tough, grilled exterior that melted away as I bit into it,” Anna wrote. “Its reputation — and its place as the No. 1 seed in our Northeast region — is well earned.”
— The carne asada burrito from Taqueria Tlaxcalli in the Bronx. Alongside the other three burritos Anna reviewed in this group, the taqueria had some tough competition — the lowest-scoring burrito earned 84 points. But with a score of 91, the Bronx burrito won out in the end. It got high marks across the board, but the carne asada, presentation and flavor profile pushed it over the top, all with near-perfect scores of 19.
“An earthy, purple, spicy black bean sauce, a blended green avocado, a spicy red chipotle and a thick white sour cream, all delicious individually, achieved a rare and powerful depth when combined,” Anna said of the winner. “The magic of this burrito was how the ingredients, all great soloists, came together in perfect harmony.”
— The carnitas burrito from Atlantic City’s Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant. The burrito earned an impressive score of 88, with its stand-out attributes being its flavor profile, which earned 18 points, and its tortilla, which scored a perfect 20.
“Let’s start with the tortilla. It’s made by hand, and it’s made of corn,” Anna said. “Inside, ‘mozzarella’ cheese oozes around bits of jalapeno and lettuce, melding them together as it cooled. The burrito was topped with crumbled farmer’s cheese and avocado.”
— El Guapo from El Pelón Taqueria in Boston. Two burritos in this group scored a 78, but this one came out on top, claiming the win with 79 points. Its quality was consistent in every category, earning 16 points for its tortilla, other ingredients, presentation and flavor profile.
“Buried like hidden treasure were the crispy, sweet plantains,” Anna wrote. “The steak was tough, but every bite featured a variation of the ingredients that made me keep going back for more. I had no choice but to eat the whole thing.”