Burritos La Palma
410 North Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703
If you read the OC Weekly's food coverage religiously like I do, you know their love of Burritos La Palma is almost bordering on restraining order status. It seems like almost every week there's a new mention or accolade for this restaurant, which sprang from a food truck, which launched them into a brick and mortar site in El Monte, and now they have another location in Santa Ana.
Burritos La Palma won the best taco at LA's prestigious Tacolandia last year, they were named one of the best burritos in America by Food and Wine magazine, they are loved not only by the staff of the OC Weekly but also Jonathan Gold, who is the preeminent food critic in not only LA but probably all of the United States. Any best of list relating to Mexcian food invariably includes a mention, if not a spot near the top, for Burritos La Palma. With all of these accolades, I moved them to the top of my own personal restaurant wishlist and enlisted my good friend Ozker to give them a try with me.
After a pretty hard day of working, for me, not Ozker, we made the trek up to Santa Ana to try out Burritos La Palma's newest location. This spot used to be the home of 1 More Pizza, which closed a year ago. This small shopping plaza on the corner of Santa Ana Boulevard and Bristol has a beauty salon, dentist, and donut shop among its tenants, and I imagine parking might get a little tricky around here during peak hours, but we were here near 4 pm on a Thursday, and we had no problem getting a spot.
Burritos La Palma comes to us from Alberto and Lauren Banuelos, a local couple who have been making flour tortillas in Lake Forest, before they moved their operations to El Monte. Their tortillas have won critical acclaim across the Southland. The food part of Burritos La Palma started as a small chain in Jerez, Zacatecas Mexico, and now they are bringing the food of Jerez to Southern California. Let's see what all the hype is all about.
I kind of froze when ordering, as I knew what I had wanted when I walked in, but I just ordered a hodgepodge of things once I was standing in front of the register, starting with this Birria Quesadilla ($3.85). After my first bite of this quesadilla, I knew people were right about the tortillas here. They had a buttery quality to them, and they were moist but held everything inside of them nicely. I had always been told that birria is simmered goat, but at Burritos La Palma it's made with shredded beef in a slightly spicy sauce. It really melded well with the cheese and gave this a real comforting feel. Delicious.
I took a shot in the dark when ordering the Platillo Especial ($9.75), but I'm glad I did. For this one, they take two of their birria burritos, top them with cheese, and then pour a green chile pork sauce over them. Kind of an enchilada vibe to these. The green chile sauce was good, but it kind of detracted from the tortillas, which are definitely a highlight at Burritos La Palma. I feel weird typing that, but the tortillas are really that good. This is an excellent option for people that want to switch it up from the burritos. This comes with beans, which were good, and a salad which went untouched since I ordered one more item.
I'll probably be lambasted for this, but my favorite item on this visit was the Torta Especial ($8.00). This sandwich came packed with tender pork loin, ham, melted cheese, creamy avocado, and some jalapenos. A very well balanced sandwich that was made even better when I added some of their salsa and refried beans to it. The bread was excellent and this was a very filling and satisfying sandwich which I'll be hard pressed to pass up on future visits to Burritos La Palma.
I really enjoyed Burritos La Palma, but I feel like I have to say that it's probably not for everyone. This is not like every other Mexican restaurant in OC. This is specifically a Zacatecas focused restaurant. They have no carnitas, fajitas, seafood, nachos, or California burritos here. They have six burritos on their menu, three quesadillas, and two tortas. The flautas are coming soon they promise. A very basic menu, but if you are open to expanding your horizons a bit, and also having one of the best flour tortillas you will ever consume, Burritos La Palma will not fail to please. Also, be advised that you'll need more than one of their burritos to fill you up. They are small but mighty. Prices seemed very fair, as the cost of a quesadilla here is at least a couple dollars cheaper than almost anywhere else, even the ones at Del Taco. A real bargain. Service was very pleasant on this early afternoon. I'm not as ready as the guys at the OC Weekly to declare these the best burritos in OC, but they are right up there with anything I have had up until this point.
Out of five bulls, (because on Holy Saturday every year, the town of Jerez has a running of the bulls), five being best to zero being worst, Burritos La Palma gets 3.5 bulls.
For more information about Burritos La Palma, head to their website here: http://www.burritoslapalma.net/