You're Eating It Wrong: Burritos

By Megan O. Steintrager  |  July 9, 2014

A burrito is one of the most casual foods out there, so can you really eat one incorrectly? "Yes, yes you can," says Leo Kremer, co-founder with his brother Oliver of the NYC Mission-style chainlet Dos Toros Taqueria. Assuming you're tackling a Cali-style foil-wrapped burrito (not a "wet" burrito served on a plate), the most serious offense is reaching for utensils. "Proper burrito form means that at no point do you need a fork or knife," asserts Kremer, adding, "The idea of the burrito is that there's the possibility of portability — whether you're taking it on the road or not, you want to know that you can...using a fork and knife is a total admission of defeat." You might think some of the blame for defeat lies with the burrito maker. Not so, says Kremer. "100% of the blame goes to the eater," he says. "I have eaten 3,000 burritos and I've broken out the fork and knife for less than 10 of those. I still blame myself." Below, Kremer shares his tips to help you keep from forking up even the messiest of burritos.

Undress Slowly

Likening burrito-eating to the art of seduction, Kremer warns you not to undress your beloved all at once. "Resist the temptation to take all the foil off." Seriously, resist: "You invariably end up in knife and fork land if you do." Instead, begin by removing the top 38% of the foil. Yes, he's that specific. "Take off that first layer of foil, stand it up and start eating, and as you work your way closer to your foil line, tear off another couple of inches and work your way down. Manage the foil the whole way."

No Laying Down

As you slowly undress your burrito, keep it upright throughout the process — if you lay it on its side, you risk losing the filling. Depending on how well the burrito is rolled, you might be able to stand it on the table between bites, but if you don't have a nice flat platform or your burrito is floppy, hang onto that baby until you're done eating. "One thing we tell our rollers when they are in rolling school at Dos Toros is that the mark of a great burrito, a well-rolled burrito, is that it's got the structural integrity and rigidity to really stand on its own," says Kremer. "That said, I personally never let go of my burrito."

Take It Easy on Toppings

Don't sabotage yourself by applying heavy or wet toppings such as guacamole and pico de gallo midmeal (all the extras should be rolled up inside). Kremer, who notes that Dos Toros doesn't have a salsa bar, explains: "We prefer everything to be integrated from the start. With a salsa bar you end up with six sides of random salsa that you don't even necessarily want, and it becomes messy." Hot sauce is an exception, and Kremer says the ability to add hot sauce between bites is a sign that you're doing a good job of keeping your burrito level and upright.

Target Problem Areas

As you work your way through your burrito, pay close attention and be alert to any "developing situations," says Kremer. "Not every burrito is rolled perfectly. Sometimes there are structural deficiencies in the tortilla, and sometimes there is a rip or a hole forming and you've got to eat more quickly on that side. It's like an ice cream cone — if one part of the cone is dripping, you want to deal with that."

Savor the Last Bite

"Those last couple of bites are great — they have been steeping in all the burrito juices, getting mushier and gooier," says Kremer. "Grasping between two fingers that final corner with totally dry hands and eating that last bite as you peel the foil away is a real moment of victory." But even if you end up with a salsa-sour cream slurry running down your arm, not to worry, as long as you get most of the burrito in your mouth. "In some ways that's desirable, because you've got evidence of your accomplishment," offers Kremer. "That's what we have napkins for." Once you've taken that last victorious bite, Kremer suggests you celebrate by crunching the foil and wax paper into a firm ball and shooting it like a basketball into the garbage.

The Final Rule: "There Are No Rules"

"A burrito is ultimately a very democratic food — you put whatever you want in it in any quantity and you omit whatever you want," Kremer says, sharing this final directive: "My last rule is disregard everything I said."