During the past summer I was chatting with my students about breakfast burritos, and one of them asked me where in Fresno one could find the best breakfast burrito. To my surprise, I didn’t have an answer (though I should have said, “In my kitchen”). That launched me on my quest. Here’s my report—hopefully the first of many. But first, I have some sad and unpleasant business to do:
RIP: SUZY’S BBQ breakfast burrito (formerly at the corner of Shaw & Cedar). This was one of my favorites until they closed a few months ago. A soft flour tortilla filled with egg, cheese, pieces of bacon, chunks of potato, and chunky pico de gallo-style salsa full of enough onion to give you bad breath until lunch time. If you asked for some spicy sauce they’d add a little something like Sriracha to it. Those bacony bites will be missed.
Now, on with the report:
TACO GRANDE. Their chile colorado egg burrito (item #4 on their breakfast menu) is so good it’s the breakfast I have a hard time getting past to try something else. Being a chile verde man myself, I was disappointed when I visited Taco Grande and they didn’t have a breakfast burrito with green sauce. So I ordered the chile colorado. And I’ve never looked back.
Medium-large size burrito. Eggs, unmashed pinto beans, chile colorado sauce, and cheese in a warmed and grilled-to-a-light-crispy and chewy tortilla (but not stiff or brittle). The chile colorado sauce is smooth with no meat chunks in it, but tastes like it’s made with meat (kind of like a chili gravy). It drips with juice when you eat it—especially as you get toward the bottom of your burrito; it doesn’t take long before every bite squirts liquid into your waxed-papered plastic basket. Alan’s First Law of Gastronomy: the messier it is, the better it tastes. They have hot sauce (red and green) in bottles in the fridge (next to the bottled drinks). At the Pinedale location, 3 and a half bucks gets you a burrito and a drink (coffee, OJ, or soda).
At their Clovis location I tried a ham & egg burrito (item #1 on their breakfast menu). Medium-large burrito containing eggs, unmashed pinto beans, diced ham, and cheese. Red and green hot sauce in the fridge. The day I visited, however, my 3 and a half bucks got my only a burrito with no drink. Just as well, though, since they only had soda. This burrito was on the dry side; the beans and taco sauce were the only liquid, though it got a bit messier as I got down into the bottom of the burrito. Ham was a bit on the salty side, but it was in nice chunks, not slices. Overall, tasty but unremarkable. The Clovis location is a larger store than the Pinedale location.
7357 N. Blackstone Ave. (in Pinedale)
Fresno, CA 93650
151 W. Bullard Ave., Suite 101
Clovis, CA 93612
breakfast served 7:00-10:00am
other breakfast burritos also available
SHOP N GO market (at Alluvial & Fresno St.). My wife and I tried three different medium-large (semi-portable) breakfast burritos here: tri-tip & egg burrito, a vegetarian egg & cheese burrito, and a chorizo & egg burrito. All contain choice of meat (or no meat on request), cheese, egg, and nicely-flavored potato wedges. Tri-tip tasted very good, meaty and cooked well, though not very spiced. Chorizo was mixed in with the eggs, tasted pretty much like any other chorizo I’ve ever had. They were very willing to make our burrito without meat, and they reduced the price by a buck. While generally tasting good, all three burritos were on the dry side, the only real moisture was the salsa we added to our burritos after we purchased them. Also, burritos were warm but not hot (temperature-wise). They are pre-made and rest on a steam table where you can pick them up; the cheese inside gets soft but doesn’t really melt (this was true of the burritos we picked up off the steam tray as well as the meatless burrito they made for our order). It was here that my wife invented the “melted cheese test” because these burritos didn’t pass. Also, the salsa you put on your burrito is not spicy. Breakfast or lunch, though, it does smell delicious when you walk into the store.
Shop N Go
7420 Fresno St. (at Alluvial)
breakfast served 6:00-10:00am
other meats also available
TACOS MARQUITOS. Looks like it caters to the university crowd (and appetite). Large (not portable; served on a plate with a knife and fork) burritos with chunks of potato, pinto beans, cheese, and pieces of bacon mixed into the egg. One of my favorites. Perhaps the best part was the excellent tortilla which is almost certainly made right there in the store. It was thin and turned almost translucent when graced with the juice inside the burrito. The burrito was moist but not wet. Very hot (temperature-wise). Salsa comes in three levels of spice: mild, medium, and hot; tried the hot and was not disappointed. Regular price is $3.65, but from when they open (7:00am) until 11:00am they have a special price of $2.95.
1772 E. Barstow Ave. (Bulldog Plaza, at Cedar Ave.)
other meats also available
EL CONCHINITO CONTENTO. Sit-down restaurant in the Tower District. My wife ordered the breakfast burrito and declared it the best yet. Egg, refried beans (probably with that yummy lard in them), cheese, and thinly sliced and nicely cooked potato slices. Wife said part of what made this burrito so good were the ideal proportions of all the ingredients. The salsa on the table was also quite tasty.
On a side note: I had the huevos rancheros, and while I was less impressed with this dish than with the breakfast burrito (it was swimming in too much liquid), I will note that all the food (salsa, sauces, beans, etc.) tasted homemade. For example, the corn tortilla under my huevos rancheros was a store-bought tortilla, but the corn tortillas they brought to the table for me to eat with my breakfast were definitely homemade tortillas—warm and nice and thick and chewy. We’ll definitely head back for another taste of that burrito and to try some more of their breakfast and lunch menu.
El Conchinito Contento
88 E. Olive Ave.
Fresno, CA 93728
Finally, I’m somewhat embarrassed to include the FRESNO CITY COLLEGE CAFETERIA—I was desperate for some breakfast, so when in Rome—but since I did eat a breakfast burrito I might as well include it. And, as you can imagine, it wasn’t very good. Large burrito with egg, hash browns, cheese, chunky salsa, and meat (optional) such as bacon or sausage. The burrito hovered somewhere between lukewarm and cold—a microwave would be a 150% improvement. Definitely failed the melted cheese test. Hash browns were dry. If I’m desperate, I’ll eat one again. But only if I’m desperate.