Where To Find California Burritos in Los Angeles
What do falafel sandwiches, chicken parm sandwiches, gyro pitas, and burritos all have in common? Answer: They are all made infinitely better when stuffed with french fries. Don’t agree? Then you’re probably a communist. (Or a far less disgusting eater than I.) But in California, the king of the french fry stuffed lunch has got to be the California Burrito, a San Diego creation that is essentially carne asada fries, wrapped in a giant tortilla. Or as I like to call it, a nugget of deliciousness. I’ve never actually had a California burrito in San Diego, but that’s probably a good thing. Because it means that I can enjoy these 3 (presumably more mediocre) versions available right here in Los Angeles.
Gringos Tacos is not exactly the kind of name that would pull me into ordering food from a truck, but seeing a french fry stuffed burrito on their menu will! They call it the “Del Mar Burrito” but the concept is the same. Meat, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, guac and… of course… french fries. The fries are just frozen shoestrings, but they do the job. And the carne asada is good enough, but-and this is important- I wouldn’t order anything else from this truck. The rice and beans they use for their regular burritos is kind of terrible, making the Del Mar Burrito one of the best pieces of proof that even generic frozen shoestrings can vastly improve any burrito. (You may say the secret ingredient is low standards.) The fact that it’s huge, and only $5.50 is just icing on the cake.
A friend turned me on to a decent version of carne asada fries at Pepe’s Tacos on the Westside, but when I asked them if they’d stuff those fries into a tortilla they looked at me like I was crazy. Can you imagine?!? Ok, so maybe they were right to look at me that way. I just wish they would stuff those damn fries into a tortilla! Luckily the Frysmith Truck is just the kind of lunatics I need to make my dream come true. Did you know that for an extra $1 they will stuff any of their french fry creations into a giant tortilla? (Provided they have tortillas on the truck that day.) It’s clearly the best way to enjoy the Frysmith menu, and even though their rajas fries aren’t exactly the same as carne asada fries, they’re close enough. Come to papa, papas.
The same friend who told me about Pepe’s also told me about Cinco de Mayo, on Sepulveda and Washington (he is equally obsessed with California burritos.) For most of Culver City, Cinco de Mayo is “that place I go to when the line at Tito’s is too long.” But now that I know they serve a California burrito, it’s been upgraded to “that place I go to when the line at Tito’s is too long, and I am willing to settle for a french fry stuffed burrito.” Being second choice to Tito’s, a truly gringo-fied taco stand that itself is pretty polarizing, is not exactly a glowing recommendation… but once again, the power of even mediocre fries will always lure me in. While Frysmith is a bit on the dry side, Cinco de Mayo goes in the opposite direction. If you prefer burritos that are a hot wet mess on the inside, this is the guy for you. The fries are also a bit thicker (read: mealier) so if potatoes if your thing, you’ll prefer this one. (Fried crunchiness is my thing, so I’ll probably stick with the first too.)
So, none of these will be a truly suitable replacement for what you get down in San Diego, or so I’ve been told, but they all make a decent lunch. I still haven’t given up on finding a great California burrito in these parts (aka I still plan on continuing to stuff my face with more french fry stuffed burritos, every chance I get.) So if you have a favorite to recommend, please put it in the comments.
Gringos Tacos, Follow them on Twitter @gringostacos for their exact location.
Frysmith, Follow them on Twitter @frysmith for their exact location.
Cinco de Mayo, 11204 Washington Place, Culver City. 310-391-5354