The best taquerias are the ones you hardly remember eating in after swinging by on your walk home from the bar. I’m talking about the kind of place you order nachos from when you’re watching TV at midnight on a Tuesday, or where you grab a $2 cheese quesadilla on the walk home from the gym. And the Divisadero corridor has a dire need for late-night Mexican food. Although NoPa doesn’t quite have the choices you’ll find in the Mission, there is a light at the end of a tunnel, and it’s shining from the most underrated burrito in San Francisco.
After trying what feels like hundreds of burritos all over San Francisco, few are as consistently delicious as those hailing from El Rancho Grande. The $9.50 super burrito is a mythical behemoth that never disappoints a mean craving. It comes with your choice of meat, rice, beans, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. It bulges in its center and has the backbone to stand horizontally on its own. The all-encompassing assemblage is packed with just a little bit of everything, creating an enormous cylinder with a day’s worth of calories.
In my experience, the carnitas burrito reigns supreme. The pork is slow-roasted and then fried on the plancha until crisp. The tender pork strings crackle in the center of the decadent wrap. Each Rancho Grande burrito can be rolled on a flour, whole wheat, spinach, or tomato tortilla. (The green and red tortillas are especially fitting for the holidays, purists be damned.)
El Rancho Grande is open from 9 a.m. to midnight during the week and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They offer vegetarian options like with mushrooms and peppers, and popular Mexican breakfasts like huevos rancheros and chilaquiles. They also have a location on Haight Street between Cole and Clayton streets, another neighborhood that’s not exactly known for its Mexican food.
I’ve said this before but let me reiterate: Sometimes, you just have to find your spot. Don’t get bogged down by the abundance of choices; just take them one at a time. Find your nacho place. Find your taco spot. Sometimes they’ll change. Right now, the best burrito I’ve been eating is just North of the Panhandle. Who would’ve thunk?
El Rancho Grande, 855 Divisadero St., 415-673-8226