I came, I saw, I consumed ... two dozen breakfast burritos in every part of town, in diners and coffee shops and every incarnation of Los Betos, El Beto, Paco's, Poncho's and Potosino imaginable.
This was my favorite: the chorizo, ham, bacon and egg burrito at Anita Street Market, $4.50. (Read my 24 Hours of Breakfast Burritos here.)
Honestly, the location was what sealed it. Anita Street Market is tucked away into Barrio Anita, one of those timeless Tucson neighborhoods that straddles St. Mary's and the I-10 freeway. You curve down the road past vintage adobes and vibrant murals until you see a little white building that blends in with the surrounding houses.
Sonora natives Grace and Mario Soto have owned the place for about 33 years. But today it was their granddaughter Gracie who told us their story. The Sotos bought the space in the '80s because they worked in the neighborhood. They started out selling beer and cigarettes. (The building at 849 N. Anita Ave. was previously an Asian meat market, Gracie said.)
But the couple's liquor store was attracting a rough crowd, so they decided to make tortillas based on Mario's mother's recipe from Santa Ana, Sonora. Gracie didn't tell us their secret, but the ingredients on the package read "flour and water." No lard.
Today, a team of about a dozen works in a steamy hot room in the back of the market starting at about 6 a.m. every day. They prepare a thousand packets of a dozen tortillas each, to sell up front and at local restaurants like Maynards. A lot of the process is done by hand, an accomplishment that Gracie is extremely proud of.
The mini burritos are actually wrapped in giant 16 inch tortillas, which are only available for special order. This works out to a much higher tortilla quotient than your regular Los Betos burro.
Much of this is due to Anita's unique wrapping technique, folding over one side of the tortilla, then spreading the ingredients over the top and wrapping it up. This creates their signature ribbon of chewy flour tortilla woven into the center of the burrito.
Other than that, the rest of the creation is pretty simple. They cook up some housemade chorizo with a hint of ham and bacon, and maybe some cheese if you ask for it. On one visit my burrito was egg forward, the other it wasn't. But on both occasions, it tasted like food you can't get anywhere except Tucson, Arizona.