Unwrapped: A guide to downtown San Jose's best burritos

by Oct 13, 2013 6:16 pm Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jerry Salas | Spartan Daily

Jerry Salas | Spartan Daily

I probably don't have to sell you on a burrito — especially if you go to college in downtown San Jose, where many students survive on the tortilla-rolled miracles.

Burritos are one of the best food items you can grab quickly and eat on the go, which is great if you're a hard-working college student with not enough time in a day. In fact, I'd better make this short and sweet before I lose your attention. Let's get to the good stuff.

Note: This guide isn't intended to sway you toward one burrito or another. It's simply here to inform you of restaurants close to SJSU with some quick tips to help you make your own decision on where to get some good food.

You can find these places right across the street from SJSU off of Fourth Street:

La Victoria Taqueria (140 E. San Carlos St.)

Regular: $5.45 (beans, rice, salsa and choice of meat)

Super: $6.45 (add guacamole, cheese and sour cream)

The spin: A friend once told me that La Vic's orange sauce would taste good on anything — even an old shoe. I never got around to testing this, but I believe him. The orange sauce complements the burritos well. With that being said, I don't think I would ever eat one without the sauce.

Quick tips: A bottle of orange sauce is $6 and really does taste good on anything. Their green sauce is nothing to sneeze at either.

Iguanas (330 S. 3rd St.)

Regular: $5.25 (beans, rice salsa and choice of meat)

Super: $6.25 (add guacamole, cheese and sour cream)

The spin: I've never left Iguanas without feeling satisfied. The guacamole they make is a personal favorite of mine and tastes amazing in the burritos as well as everything else on the menu. Iguanas is one of the few places that offers refried beans in their burritos and that's one of my preferred ingredients. They also have an orange sauce that is unique and doesn't try to imitate the competition. Warning: it can get really spicy if you eat too much of it at once.

Quick tips: Free soda refills and outside seating are available.

These next places are a bit of a walk from campus, but they're just as good.

Muchos! Taqueria (72 E. Santa Clara St.)

El Gigante (regular) $5.95 (cheese, beans, rice, salsa and choice of meat)

Grand Gigante (super) $6.50 (add guacamole and sour cream)

The spin: Muchos! Taqueria's signature roasted chicken burrito was good, but I could hardly find the guacamole and sour cream inside. It comes with a side of chips and salsa if you dine in, which is a breath of fresh air in an area where those kinds of things cost extra. Unfortunately, their salsas and sauces were just okay. I didn't get a chance to try their "Surfin' California" burrito, but anything that contains shrimp and steak must be good.

Quick tips: There is almost no line during lunch time and they offer one free soda refill.

Angelou's Mexican Grill (21 N. 2nd St.)

Regular: 5.25 (cheese, beans, rice, salsa and choice of meat)

Super: 6.25 (add guacamole and sour cream)

The spin: I must be dreaming because this place had free chips as well. Too bad there was no salsa to go with them. I was forced to squeeze the sauce out of the bottle onto my plate in order to wet the dry chips. Speaking of sauce, they also have one of the orange variety, but it tries too hard to imitate La Vic's. No one can imitate La Vic's orange sauce and they shouldn't try. The burrito contained cheddar and that gave it exceptional flavor. Most taquerias use Jack or a number of other white cheeses in their burritos, but not Angelou's. This small aspect sets them apart from the pact, but I will definitely need to return for further "research."

Quick tips: There are small lines during lunch and Angelou's has a large interior with a relaxing ambiance.

Bakery Mexico No. 2 (87 E. Santa Clara St.)

Regular: $4.75 (beans, rice, salsa and choice of meat)

Super: $6.25 (add cheese, avocado and sour cream)

The spin: My favorite part about Bakery Mexico No. 2 is that they cook to order. They will cook, season and chop up the steak instead of preparing it beforehand and placing it in a metal tray under a heat lamp. I appreciate a restaurant that cooks their food in front of me, even if I have to peek over the counter to see. The burritos here have a lot of flavor and the red and green salsas set them even further apart from the competition. Fresh avocado is used in place of the usual guacamole and it works well. Bakery Mexico No. 2's burritos are consistently fantastic — which is great considering it's a bakery first and a taqueria second. My only gripe with the place is that it's not aesthetically pleasing inside. When you come across the hole-in-the-wall bakery downtown, you've found Bakery Mexico No. 2.

Quick tips: Grab a dessert — it's a bakery!

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