BEST BURRITO - 2006
There's an old adage about taquerias—the worse the joint looks, the better the food must be. Pineda Tacos 1 and Pineda Tacos 3 (#2 closed to universal howls of protest in mid-March) don't offer a white-tablecloth experience, but they do provide the best excuse for a food coma this side of the McDonald's-owned Chipotle behemoth. The tortillas are soft and chewy and actually taste of something other than whiteness (stale tortillas taste like white, the way Subway tastes like yellow, don't you think?) Those good tortillas are wrapped around a hearty mound of your choice of wonderful: chicken tinga, all smoky, complicated, and full of the dusk of spice; chicken or pork in salsa verde, green and tart; beef all kinds of ways, including well married with onions or soaked in a smoky blend of deep chile splendor; rich roast pork carnitas; the only-for-those-right-with-God double-fried pork skin of chicharron, and much, much more. Don't be fooled by the menu's small/large distinction—small isn't going to get you something kid-sized; in fact, the $5 small gets you a regular-sized burrito, while the $7 large scores a double-tortilla, double-stuffed sleeping pill.