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BEST BURRITOS Minneapolis 2001 - El Burrito Mercado

Burritos aren't Mexican. Tacos are Mexican. Burritos are tacos by way of California super-growth-hormone, and so the best places for burritos in town are not necessarily the best places for that oft-cited Holy Grail, "authentic Mexican food." What are the best places for burritos? Glad to spill the beans, and they are, in no particular order, Edina's Tejas, Uptown's Bar Abilene, downtown Minneapolis's two El Burrito restaurants (no relation to El Burrito Mercado), Hudson, Wisconsin's San Pedro Café, and the many Chipotle grills. A good burrito depends on having a really flavorful (actually over-flavored) filling, so that by the time it melds with rice, beans, tomatoes, cheese, a 12-inch flour tortilla, and whatever the heck else you throw in there, it still tastes like something. On a recent visit to El Burrito Mercado--king of the hill, and the one to beat--the stews they were ladling into their plump, $3.50 gems didn't just taste like something, they tasted like wow. Beef in a red-chile stew stung beautifully, pork in tomatillo sauce was brisk, chicken and corn was sweet and cinnamon-touched. That El Burrito Mercado is distinctly authentic is only gilt on the lily, as was a $1 fresh pineapple drink, made pretty with square-cut chunks of fruit floating in the glass.

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