Know When to Hold ‘em…and When to Fold ‘em

It’s often said by Mexican food aficionados that “behind every great taco is an even greater burrito”…and who are we to argue? A proper burrito boasts its excess in all the right places – an edible blanket of chewy opulence that represents all that is great in the Mexican-American-influenced culture of Los Angeles. Here’s a little bundle of culinary joy, where meat, carbs and convenience are sauced and served to your hunger-driven whims…on a budget, to boot.

Whether it’s a smoky lamb burrito, a couple of breakfast burritos or an over-the-top variant bursting with seared seafood and shredded cabbage in the style of the burritas from Puerto Vallarta, the following hand-picked list is for those days when a mere taco won’t do.

Taqueria El Tapatio is a name you may have seen in other Woodland Hills Magazine roundups before, but that’s because when it comes to Mexican fare, there’s really nowhere else in town that does it like this place. Serving its loyal customers for the last 24 years, El Tapatio’s menu offers comprehensive lunch and dinner selections ranging from traditional Mexican-style cuisine to some of the best burritos north of the border. Stopping in for the first meal of your day? You must try El Tapatio’s quasi-famous Burrito Desayuno (Breakfast Burrito). Beyond the classic burrito, served with your choice of meat as well as rice, beans, onions, cilantro and salsa, Taqueria El Tapatio offers a Combo Burrito, Burrito Supreme, Burrito Veggie and Super Burrito Veggie. The restaurant is located at 22806 Victory Boulevard in Woodland Hills.

Poquito Mas – also known as The Original Baja Taco Stand – began serving “fresh Mexican cuisine, Baja California style” in 1984 just outside Studio City in L.A. Since then, the restaurant chain has lived up to its translated namesake of “a little more” by exceeding all its customer’s expectations of what fast, fresh and authentic Mexican cuisine should be. A massive burrito menu awaits fans of these little wrapped pieces of heaven, beginning with a fresh-made crispy-grilled tortilla, fresh salsa, melted Jack cheese and fresh guacamole. Beyond Poquito Mas’ Classic Burrito, you can choose from Burritos Petitos (smaller burritos with chicken, steak or carnitas), The Farmers Market Burrito, Bean N’ Cheese Burrito, Traditional Vegetarian Burrito, Nature’s Grill Burrito and many, many more. Poquito Mas’ Woodland Hills location is situated at 21049 Ventura Boulevard.

Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill first opened in Sherman Oaks, California in 1992 as the brainchild of Steve Paperno, who had a vision to combine the variety of flavors he experienced traveling through Mexico with innovative recipes and a passion for healthy living. The result was an innovative menu that uses fresh, natural and organic ingredients combined with unique cooking styles for enhanced flavor and the promise of excellence and satisfaction. If it’s a burrito with a somewhat healthy side that you’re craving, Sharky’s delivers with offerings such as the Fiesta, Sharky’s, Santa Fe, Fajita, Wild Caught Fish, Wild Caught Shrimp, Organic Tofu & Veggies and Organic Bean & Cheese. Choose from flour or low-fat whole wheat tortillas as the base for your burrito and then select goodies like chicken breast, organic tofu and Angus steak. Sharky’s Woodland Hills location is situated at 6219 Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

Hugo’s Tacos began when its founders took the flavors of Mexico and fused them with Hugo’s Restaurant’s Northern-Italian cooking style, honed from 30 years of “eclectic deliciousness” and blending premium ingredients with “from-scratch” cooking in a “stealthy, healthy” fashion. The eatery’s recipes are sourced from a collection of “taste memories” that thread across the border into Mexico and back again, combining ideas, ingredients and family history. Seven fillings, seven salsas and 11 basic dishes form the basis of the Hugo’s Tacos experience which appeals to carnivores, omnivores, vegans and vegetarians alike. When it comes to burritos, Hugo’s has it down pat, allowing customers to first choose their filling – chicken, mixed veggies, steak, carnitas, al pastor, grilled fish, rice, beans and/or cheese – and then finishing them off with onions and cilantro, choice of salsa, organic Spanish rice and organic beans. Hugo’s Woodland Hills location is situated at 22941 Ventura Boulevard.

XOC Tequila Grill was established in 2015 and serves authentic Mexican cuisine, cocktails and more, even offering a Sunday Mariachi Buffet Brunch with live music, an omelet station, sopas station and chocolate fountain. As of late, XOC has been getting rave reviews for its burritos from the folks who would know them best – local Los Angelinos – with choices such as the Burrito XOC (a standard burrito with choice of grilled chicken, steak, carnitas or pastor with refried beans, rice, queso cotja and lettuce), Breakfast Burrito (scrambled eggs, refried beans, Monterey Jack cheese and fresh pico de gallo), Burrito Vegetariano (sautéed Portobello mushrooms, zucchini and roasted bell peppers with white rice, black beans, lettuce, queso cotja and fresh guacamole) and Bean and CheeseXOC Tequila Grill is located at Woodland Hills’ Village at Topanga, 6316 N. Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Suite 1110.

Los Angeles is a hotbed for some of the best Mexican fare in the country. The aforementioned Woodland Hills spots will definitely have you throwing on your poncho, grabbing your maracas and celebrating with your taste buds when the craving for a truly authentic burrito strikes.