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A Decade of the Best Burritos San Francisco 2005 -

For many San Franciscans, making a declaratory statement about burritos is a good way to start an argument, since everyone who shovels one down more than once a week has an allegiance to his favorite shop. While trying to sort out 10 years' worth of Best Burrito winners, we've discovered much about those lumpy tubes of rice, beans, meat, and salsa -- but most of all we've learned that when it comes to burritos, this town suffers from an embarrassment of riches. Here are the four that really stood out.

Taqueria Can-Cun

2288 Mission (at 19th Street), 252-9560

A decade ago we named Can-Cun the king of Mission burritos, and it still reigns on the weekends, when it's open past last call and tipsy burrito hounds are drawn to that bright yellow sign like so many moths to the flame. Lately it seems to be resting on its laurels a bit, but even when it's bested by other shops on the block by day, its late-night hours keep it close to our hearts.

El Farolito

2777 Mission (at 24th Street), 824-7877

Overlooking the, ahem, lively action of the 24th Street BART stop, El Farolito might not score points for cleanliness or clientele, but it outmatches the competition when it comes to expert preparation of meats -- all cooked and seasoned to mouthwatering perfection. Our favorite is the al pastor: spicy, slightly sweet, and absolutely heavenly.

Pancho Villa

3071 16th St. (at Valencia), 864-8840

It's been a few years since readers handed Pancho Villa the Best Burrito crown, but now more than ever, the place is hard to beat. By taqueria standards, it's immaculate. The menu has lots of great options for vegetarians and carnivores alike, and there's almost always some kind of norteña trio parked in the corner, serenading diners. The rice-and-beans option is elegantly inexpensive and always wonderfully made.

El Castillito

136 Church (at Market), 621-3428

It might not have the most unusual name (we know of two other "little castles" within walking distance), but the burritos here are this year's favorite. El Castillito reheats the meat to perfection before loading it with all the trimmings (including the freshest pico de gallo we've had) and rolling it in a regular flour, spinach, or sun-dried tomato tortilla. For thrifty vegetarians a sumptuous meal can be had for under $3.

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