Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.
The Truck: Burr-Eatery
The Cuisine: Sonoran style cuisine
Specialty Items: Anything wrapped in their homemade flour tortillas
Worth the Wait in Line? At peak lunch time, a total 10 minutes from the end of the line to food in hand.
I grew up eating home-cooked Mexican food, and while I'll never claim that it made me an expert in Mexican cuisine, it did give me a different perspective on what people considered "Mexican Food," even in San Francisco.
My family moved to the states from rural central Mexico. There, burritos were small things, usually filled with just one thing, like beans refried with chorizo. I remember my mom packing me a couple of tightly wrapped burritos in my Dukes of Hazzard thermos for school lunches, and the wonder it created among my classmates.
It wasn't until I was in middle school that my older cousin Alfonso made me aware of the massive burritos being made in the Mission. "They're as big as my arm!" he'd tell me, equally amused and excited by how different they were from what we were used to. My first trip to El Farolito was when I became aware that there was more to eat than what I knew, and that was exhilarating.
These were some of the memories and emotions that flooded my brain as I finished eating my first Chile-Colorado Burrito ($4, red chile braised pork wrapped in a lard tortilla) from Burr-Eatery.
The bright red cart that Aaron Bullington and Isla Ruffo operate as the Burr-Eatery serves the smaller-sized burritos that I grew up with. The simplicity and the small size of the burritos may seem underwhelming at first glance, especially among a sea of extreme food served by other trucks. But bite into one like the Chori-Queso ($4, homemade chorizo and melted cheese wrapped in a lard tortilla), and the tender tortilla gives way to some of the most flavorful meats and fillings around. The concentrated flavors are well-suited for the size, which also means that you can easily get a variety to explore the menu.
The inspiration for Bullington and Ruffo came from the year they spent living in Guyamas, Sonora, Mexico, in 2009. There they cooked a lot, cultivated an organic garden, made cheese from fresh milk sourced from local ranchers, cured hams, ground their own sausage, and cooked lots of Sonoran beef over mesquite.
While working at Fatted Calf, the pair noticed a lack of the style of cooking they enjoyed in Mexico. "Because there aren't many people from Sonora in Northern California, there were no burritos like the ones back home available in San Francisco," says Ruffo. "Aaron and I wanted to bring this delicious food to the Bay Area, but to make it even better by doing it with pastured meats and locally grown ingredients."
"We try to replicate the traditional flavors of Sonora, which are very different from what you find in the more commonly known Mexican dishes," says Ruffo about the Sonoran style of cooking. "Here the flavors are more rustic, a lot less tropical, and consist largely of things that are able to grow in the desert: potatoes, onions, Chile California, tomatoes. We really try our hardest to stay true to the original dishes."
Bullington and Ruffo see that the variety of regional styles of cooking in Mexico often gets viewed from a narrow prespective. They see that giving something a different spin than what folks are used to isn't easy, especially when a burrito creates a particular expectation. They prefer to simply let the food speak for itself, and if the lines are any indication, the people, like me, really like it.