Burrito Survey

Here’s another piece you can read in the July/August issue of Alameda Magazine. Unfortunately, Burritos on Wheels closed for the summer (!) but signs and the Web site indicate that they will be back soon. I couldn’t say it in the story, but my chicken burrito from Burritos on Wheels was the tastiest of all the burritos I ate.

“Under Wraps”

If all it takes is to love eating burritos to be considered a burrito connoisseur, then count me as one. I traveled far and wide in Alameda in search of a great burrito and found many. I didn’t cover all of the Mexican joints in this crazy town, but I certainly had fun in the process.

360° Gourmet Burritos
360° Gourmet Burritos is a national chain, and the only one in this burrito survey. But Alameda’s 360° Gourmet Burritos is noteworthy for offering the least traditional burritos in town. There’s an eclectic (and excellent) selection of choices from the 360° World Burrito menu, including Cajun, Thai, teriyaki or curry burritos. The latter three come with jasmine rice, vegetables and special sauces.
360° Burritos also provides customers with traditional fare, using marinated meats, Spanish rice, black beans, salsa and romaine lettuce in a choice of spinach, flour, tomato or low-fat tortillas. A yummy vegetarian burrito is filled to overflowing with zucchini, chayote, bell pepper, eggplant, tomato, onion and herbs.
Bring your kids any night after 5 p.m., and they’ll get a free meal with the purchase of a regular meal. There is a small seating area where you can watch the chefs prepare your burrito in minutes. 853 Marina Village Parkway, (510) 814-9003, http://www.360gb.com/index.html.

Acapulco
If a pitcher of Sangria and a large plate filled with a traditional Mexican burrito are your version of comfort food, then Acapulco is the place to go. Family-owned and operated since 1953, Acapulco is a long-standing tradition in Alameda.
The Momma Rose burrito carries the honor of being one of the restaurant’s most popular and is often described as “mammoth.” According to manager Lydia Quintero, it is a recipe of her mother’s, the original Momma Rose, and it’s a specialty of the house. “It’s definitely big enough for two people to share,” she says. The beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, olives, onions and cheese that are wrapped in big flour tortilla is a vegetarian burrito, but you can order it with meat, too, and another house favorite is the chile verde (pork) burrito.
Burritos are just one aspect of Acapulco’s large menu. It’s a great place to bring the family, with a bustling atmosphere and lots of food at a great value. The dining experience is well worth the battle for parking and long lines on the weekend. 2104 Lincoln Ave., (510) 523-4935.

Alameda Taqueria
First, walk into Alameda Taqueria and enjoy the beautiful wall mural created by students from Saint Joseph’s many years ago and then order yourself a Burrito Mojado, a “wet burrito with enchilada sauce” that’s the most popular with the regulars, according to Minnie Patino. She should know, since she’s owned the place for 18 years.
Other favorites with the packed lunch crowd include the super burrito and the chiles rellanos, both sumptuous feasts at a great price. Alameda Tacqueria offers quick service, a nice, small eating area and beer for quaffing. The restaurant is closed Sundays. 1513 Park St., (510) 865-9380.

Burritos on Wheels
When you walk past Burritos on Wheels, it looks empty.
“We’re actually packed,” says owner Raymond Diaz, explaining that the restaurant workers are scrambling to fill the lickety-split electronic orders that come in.
Burritos on Wheels is the only Mexican restaurant that offers delivery service in Alameda. Visit the Web site, http://www.burritosonwheels.com, order your choices online and 45 minutes later, you have a homemade Mexican meal at your doorstep. Burritos on Wheels delivers all over Alameda, including Bay Farm Island (and to some parts of Oakland). Delivery hours are during lunch and dinner on weekdays, and only dinner delivery is available on weekends. There is a $15 minimum order for delivery. Just think of this as an alternative to pizza.
And what an alternative it is. The most popular request is the pollo asado (grilled chicken) burrito that comes with whole beans, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and cheese. (It is excellent, and the “super” is truly super-sized.) There are nine other varieties of burritos, in regular or super versions. Choose a flour, spinach or tomato tortilla, thank you very much. Burritos on Wheels is not open Mondays. 1330 Park St., (510) 521-8964, http://www.burritosonwheels.com.

Juanita’s
Patrons of Juanita’s have three versions of the Tapia family homemade salsa to accompany the basket of chips that greets them: a traditional spicy variety, pico de gallo and a recently debuted, less spicy, chunkier version of the traditional style. Homemade fresh daily for 32 years, the salsa is a welcome addition to Juanita’s most popular burrito, the Burrito Famoso, a giant that’s wrapped and smothered in enchilada sauce and melted cheese.
Lilia Tapia, the owners’ daughter and Juanita’s manager, says the restaurant switched from cooking in corn oil to soybean oil last year and whips up tasty carne asada (steak) and chile verde burritos regularly. All chicken dishes incorporate breast meat, she says.
Juanita’s is busy at dinnertime, but it’s a great place to bring the whole family, especially children. The restaurant offers a full bar with a selection of Margaritas to, as Tapia puts it, “wash down those burritos.” 1324 Park St., (510) 865-2230.

La Pinata No. 3
The best place to go in town at 2 a.m.—maybe the only place to go in town then—La Piñata offers an excellent and popular burrito, the Burrito Famoso. You can eat this enormous delicacy of a wet burrito filled with rice, beans and meat covered in an enchilada sauce at just about any other time, since La Piñata is open from 7 a.m. until 3 a.m. every day of the week. The adjoining tequila bar offers some 800 tequilas for accompaniment.
Alameda’s La Piñata is one of six located around the Bay Area and offers customers a triplet of eating experiences, from the main restaurant to the Tequila Bar to the Taco Bar Café next door. There is also a take-out station for easy customer access. 1440 Park St., (510) 769-9110, http://www.lapinata.com.

Taqueria Ramiro & Sons
Some Alamedans claim the burritos from this little Mexican eatery are the best in town. Stand in line on any given night or day and see why. Run by Mr. Ramiro and his sons for the past 21 years, the restaurant provides an inexpensive respite from cooking dinner. The child burritos are just the right size for many adults, while larger appetites will enjoy the wildly popular super carnitas (pork) burrito, which is chock full of your choice of refried, black or pinto beans, cheese, rice, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole and Ramiro & Sons special hot sauce.
Taqueria Ramiro & Sons food preparers take in multiple orders at a time, and they seem to always get them right. The taqueria is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and has a tiny dining area for those who just can’t wait to dig in. 2321 Alameda Ave., (510) 523-5071.

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