My love affair with burritos began at a young age. It was the perfect after-school snack to fuel bike rides and Street Fighter II marathons at the local arcade. During adolescence it blossomed, moving on from the classic bean and cheese to more exotic selections like the California burrito: a mouth watering steak burrito, with French fries, fresh salsa, guacamole and, of course, never-ending cheese. At university it matured into a permanent staple of my diet. I had moved on from taquerias—local taco and burrito shops—to its mobile counterpart, the taco truck. It was at these glorious establishments where I received nourishment, sometimes doubling my meal into two because of the sheer volume of burrito.
So where am I at now? Long gone are the days of five-dollar bricks wrapped in aluminum foil. Like most relationships, I’ve developed a dependency on this comfort food that I’ve carried with me throughout my life. Luckily for me, and us, this is Tokyo, where almost any gastronomical concoction can be found, albeit at a price.
In recent year,s, Mexican food has been steadily gaining popularity in Japan. For someone deeply familiar with Mexican food, burritos specifically, picking the wrong establishment can be an expensive learning curve. That’s why I’ve done the legwork for you. Here’s a list of some of Tokyo’s best burritos so you can enjoy a delicious Mexican meal at a reasonable price.
The Most Authentic
Nobu Tacos San Diego
Hidden a block away from the iconic Gonpachi (aka the Kill Bill restaurant) in Nishi-Azabu is Nobu Tacos San Diego. This joint has all the makings of your next favorite hidden gem. Off the beaten path, it has a hole-in-the-wall atmosphere that makes the find all the more gratifying. Great for eating in or taking out, the restaurant has counter seating or a moreexpansive seating area downstairs that doubles as a bar in the evenings. While eating the carne asada burrito, I was temporarily transported back to Southern California—steak goodness, a sea of guacamole and pico de gallo salsa. All that was missing was the beach. The large burrito is ¥1,200, with no need to worry about extra guacamole charges, it’s all included. Tacos, nachos, and salad bowls fill out the rest of the menu, so let this be a one-stop shop for all your Mexican food needs. The owner is friendly and speaks English well, making a visit all the more enjoyable.
アルト第２ビル 101, 1-4-26, Nishiazabu, アルト第２ビル 101, Minato-ku, 106-0031. Nearest Station: Nogizaka. Tel: 03-3408-5866. Open Daily 11:30am-12:00am.
The Best Fast Food
Guzman y Gomez
With so many fast-food restaurants to choose from it can be tough to single one out. Guzman y Gomez (GYG) recently opened a new branch in Shibuya, adding to their Harajuku location. The menu has the standard four-step approach that you’ve come to expect from chains like Chipotle. Choose your style, choose a filling, add some sides and order a drink. However, the fillings GYG offers are a step above the competition (the pulled pork marinated in chipotle sauce is my clear favorite). A regular burrito goes for ¥820 while the large pushes up to ¥1,320 before add-ons. If you’re really hungry, try this burrito hack: get the enchilada, which at GYG is essentially an extra large burrito with sour cream and guacamole included in the price. You’ll end up with larger portions, which after add-ons, comes out to about the same price. GYG also has a nice selection of house sauces and other goodies like jalapeños. At the Harajuku branch there is ample seating, but I recommend the foosball table in the back that doubles as a four top. Have fun playing for who buys the next round.
Shibuya Location: 1-11-3 Jinnan, Shibuya, Tokyo. Nearest Station: Shibuya. Tel: 03-3461-3800. Open Daily 11am ~ 11pm. http://gyg.jp/en/
Bang for Your “Buck”
Las Dos Caras
Nestled down an alley and sandwiched between a Gindaco Takoyaki shop and an IQOS Japan store, is Las Dos Caras. A few steps away from exit 3 of Meiji-Jingumae Station, this modern two-story Mexican restaurant has one of the best weekend lunch specials in Tokyo. For ¥1,500 you get an appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert and your choice of coffee or herbal tea. They offer a beef burrito that gets an “A” for presentation but is rather mediocre flavor-wise. Instead, opt for the chicken fajitas and make your own mini-burritos. They usually bring them over sizzling and set them on fire in front of you for added fun. If you order the guacamole and chips for ¥950, the dish is made in front of you to order, and to your tastes. Las Dos Caras is large and busy on the weekends, with one of the best deals in town.
1-10-37 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Nearest Station: Meiji-Jingumae Tel: 03-6631-1111. Everyday 11:30am ~ 12:00am. The weekend lunch ¥1,500 special runs from 11am until 3pm. http://www.lasdoscaras.jp/
La Jolla (Hiroo)
Taco Rico (Akasaka)
Frijoles (Azabu-juban, Roppongi and Otemachi)