For the love of breakfast burritos

Like a hug wrapped in a tortilla

Ahh, the breakfast burrito; a simple, hearty staple of the everyman on-the-go morning routine; patron saint of hungry commuters. Where would we be as a society without thee? In my own life, I’ve ravaged quite a few.

From morning grind to late night hang time, the breakfast burrito has usually been the best and easiest go-to item to order. Breakfast burritos are so ubiquitous that we often overlook the staple. But I think it’s time for a little love of something that morning commuters take for granted.

I start this breakfast burrito quest at a staple of my old stomping grounds, the East Side Taco Stop. This longtime favorite of many who live on the East Side of town sits right on the corner of 4th and Fountain in the heart of Pueblo’s Lower East Side. The restaurant itself may not look like much, there’s no seating inside, and the staff is a bit surly, (in a good natured way that I adore, one not unlike my own family), but they can cook.

A little side note for people who don’t venture across I-25 because of the bad reputation of Pueblo’s east side — do it and you will be rewarded.

My bacon breakfast burrito is decently sized, hot and ready in less than 5 minutes after ordering, which is impressive considering this place is usually busy. Fluffy scrambled egg and deep fried home fries lay the foundation for 3 thick strips of smoky bacon and cheddar cheese, layered with a half mild/half spicy pork green chile so flavorful I had to physically stop myself from pulling through their drive-thru to order a gallon or two to take home.

Well, clearly this is off to a great start.

My next sojourn for handheld Mexican food bliss takes me to the heavily trafficked corner of 24th and Elizabeth, Burrito’s Betty, a longtime citywide favorite, now in my crosshairs.

Burrito’s Betty, because the former owner, Betty Luna was the burrito lady in the Steel City, is in an old gas station/corner stop where parking is a chaotic artform. The process is the same as it’s been forever, walk in, see a crowd, pull a menu, decide on your number and wait on a bench.

Today, the tiny space is crowded around noontime — that’s expected. The counter staff is impeccably good, personable and super friendly, joking around with customers as their orders are taken. The rapport with everyone within its walls is very old school and community driven. There’s no seating other than a few benches for waiting at Burrito’s Betty, so after nabbing my food I take the short drive down to Mineral Palace Park to enjoy my lunch with a view.

The #2 Bacon Breakfast from Betty’s is a good burrito, with a substantial helping of bacon and an immensely flavorful spicy pork chile, but I did have a few issues; the potatoes are a bit on the blah side, lacking a distinct crunch or flavor, and there was almost no egg flavor or texture to be found, making the burrito as a whole feel half killer and half filler.

Next on the list is from the 24-hour burrito supplier Adolfo’s on Pueblo’s southside in the King Soopers parking lot. They also have a northside location.

Adolfo’s has easily the largest on the list — a large, round and great flavored tortilla stuffed with copious amounts of scrambled egg, French fries and cheddar cheese. But that’s where the similarities to most other burrito spots in Pueblo stop. Instead of just bacon, this burrito is served with a combination of both bacon and ham (albeit less of both than is probably preferable to most, but I rather liked the counterbalance of flavors that the smaller portion provided).

The Adolfo’s version also takes green chile out of the equation, possibly to some vexation to Pueblo, instead opting to dole me out two mini containers of salsa, one red and one green. They’re both great, the green tomatillo offering hints of savory and cilantro, while the red goes for the classic spicy kick of red chile. I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a breakfast burrito that’s a bit different from most other places here in town.

On that note, Vasquez Taco Shop on 4th and Erie serves a burrito in their small and no-frills storefront that is closely akin to that of Adolfo’s, with similar potent salsas, and with a very nice staff just over the 4th Street Bridge from Pueblo’s downtown district that is always worth the quick trip over the Fountain River.

Los Carnales, located in a Belmont shopping center just off Jerry Murphy, is the last of my month-long burrito tour. They’re a relative newcomer to the food scene here in Pueblo, but one that I am told by multiple friends may be “the best in town” which is too strong of a recommendation for me to pass up! The spot is pretty full when I arrive late morning, customers waiting patiently for food, but the young woman at the register is very pleasant despite handling a loud and rude customer just seconds before I order. The breakfast burrito itself is quite enjoyable, but just a touch lacking; there’s plenty of bacon, egg and fries to go around, all in great proportion and seasoned fantastically, but after a few bites I notice there is no salsa either inside the burrito or in the to-go bag, which makes the burrito not feel quite complete and a touch dry. (I later learned that it’s located in a nearby cooler about which I was not informed, so I’m eager to head back for another, as I thought this burrito could’ve been great!)

If this A.M. voyage into breakfast burrito-dom taught me anything, it’s that we should never judge a burrito by its cover, because you may find your favorite breakfast in a place that may not look the best on the outside; maybe it’s on a side of town you’ve been told not to venture into. But if you are willing to open yourself up to a new experience, you may just find (burrito) love in unexpected places.

Don’t see your favorite on the list? Think we missed one somewhere? Send breakfast burritos c/o John Bueno to 120 S Union Ave. Pueblo, CO 81003.

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