With the opening of new corporate burrito chain Chipotle (1001 S St Francis Dr., 303-4534) last week, the Railyard area is now inundated with burrito suppliers. But there are just as many delicious, local restaurants within a three-minute walk—all of which our readers have undoubtedly heard about before—so we thought it'd be nice to put together this little reminder, because it's easy to be tempted by cute, new, red things. And plus, out-of-town folks might need a primer on the less prominent—but billion times better—options just around the corner.
La Choza (905 Alarid St, 982-0909) gets a lot of love from SFR because it's one of the best places to enjoy a real New Mexican meal with a whopping marg on the side. Its new corporate neighbor isn't serving up anything remotely like the 1580 ($11), with premium ArteNOM tequila and tart house-made secret sour mix, or the Gran Gold ($12.50), with Don Julio añejo and Gran Marnier. Both pair excellently with (among anything) the burrito grande plate ($12.75; add chicken, beef or adovada for $3). That burrito is about double the size of your typical fast-casual version and comes smothered in chile auténtico, red or green, with a side of posole. For something like a burrito that isn't a burrito, try the stuffed sopapilla ($11.75; add meat for $3), with a crispy exterior and a soft inside that cradles the filling and is the epitome of New Mexican comfort food. If the main draw for the chain place is its cheap prices, good news: you can skip the food and get extra sloshed at La Choza on a house margarita ($7.75) for about the same cost as one of their burritos.
Without Burrito Spot (1057 Cerrillos Road, 820-0779), I would not have survived college (and ended up looking as good as I do). Dining hall plans are expensive, but $5 for a fresh, hot, huge burrito is not—that's cheaper than their corporate competition up the street, and that's before any deals the Spot might have. On my way home late after class last year, I would drive past the corner of Cordova and Cerrillos Roads, which at 11 pm was still a bright, fluorescent bastion of burritos, and I would realize I hadn't eaten all day. Luckily at the time, they were offering breakfast burritos in the morning and late-night hours for just $2.99! There's still regular specials and the whatnot, but that deal was what made me really fall in love. Previously a city-wide chain, it sold off a few of its locations last year, spawning another chain called Fast & Real (2207 Cerrillos Road,
474-6202; 5741 Airport Road, 660-0087). From what I can tell, that downsizing has only led to an increase in -consistency and quality at the remaining location. I always get a carnitas burrito ($4.90) but if you're looking for something a little different, a little sandwich-y-er, try a torta—-pillowy, buttery bread softly holds your desired fillings, available in beef, ham, chicken, carnitas or adobada, and all for a little more or less than $5.
When El Chile Toreado (807 Early St, 500-0033) moved about 1000 feet away from its -original location, folks rejoiced that it was still around, because the burritos are distinctive and delicious, full of smoky, hot flavor and really, really chunky. They were happy, anyway, until some flashy, corporate-designed behemoth of burritos was built directly -between El Chile Toreado and Cerrillos. Let's be real, who are you supporting when you spend money at Chipotle? Some richass white CEO dude who's already made a ton of money off "revitalizing" Taco Bell, another menace to real cuisine everywhere. Who should your money be going towards instead? Local Santafesino Luis Medina and his staff, who work tirelessly every morning churning out burritos to the dozens of folks who line up for a bite before work. They're strictly breakfast and lunch, so wake up early for a brekkie-b ($6.50) that features numerous meat options or veggies. For lunchier options, there are (you guessed it) even more burritos ($6.50) but also tacos ($7.50 for 3) or, curiously but awesomely, hot dogs -($5-$6.50).