In 1999, I moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area, where I discovered the world of Mission-style burritos. At first I was dazzled by the baby blanket-sized tortillas stuffed with whole beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, pico, crema, guacamole… so big, so filling! But it wasn’t long before I grew weary of these overpriced behemoths pouring out of every taqueria in San Francisco (for a time, you could find me at Taqueria el Buen Sabor every weekend). That’s when I met Mario’s.
There’s no foil exoskeleton or superfluous greenery needed for Mario’s hand-held bean, cheese and rice burrito. What’s more, this isn’t your garden variety bean and cheese—it’s pan fried! Let me repeat myself: IT’S PAN FRIED!!! Now, I realize this may not seem revelatory, but when velvety refried beans and a vein of bright orange cheese are sealed into a crispy-on-the-outside/chewy-on-the-inside flour tortilla, it’s sinfully scrumptious!
I returned after a 7-year furlough in New York to discover the location had changed, but the faces remained the same… including my own. Lo and behold, my favorite waiter recognized me! I think that makes me family!
Mario’s La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant
2506 Haste St
Berkeley, CA 94704