The Santa Barbara Independent has invited 21 establishments in Santa Barbara in the past two years to participate in their annual Burrito Week, offering special burritos and familiar favorites at a discounted price. This year, burritos were priced at $8, a dollar increase from previous years. In preparation for Burrito Week, which lasted from Sept. 21-27, staff at the Independent sampled these special burritos to give us an idea of what to expect.
Burrito Week isn’t just about offering over 20 burritos for the affordable price of $8 – a price that UC Santa Barbara students wished could remain year-round. Rather, the larger emphasis of the Independent’s week-long burrito extravaganza is placed upon highlighting small and family-owned restaurants and taquerias throughout Santa Barbara. Participating establishments offer unique variations, exploring how to elevate this beloved food by sticking to classic burrito fillings or implementing unexpected flavors. The Daily Nexus staff seized the opportunity to try out a few of the burritos on the list for themselves before fall quarter started.
El Zarape’s Pico de Gallo Nopalitos Breakfast Burrito
By Stephanie Gerson
Locals believe that El Zarape Mexican restaurant on the Westside has perfected their breakfast burrito, with the restaurant earning a Santa Barbara Independent Foodie Award in 2016 for its breakfast burrito variations. This year is El Zarape’s third time participating in Burrito Week, but the taqueria concocted a new special this year instead of offering the Breakfast Pasilla Pepper Burrito as they did in 2021 and 2022.
This year’s featured burrito, the Pico de Gallo Nopalitos Breakfast Burrito, is unlike any burrito I’ve tried before. Encased in a flaky and light flour tortilla are scrambled eggs, onions, pinto beans, pico de gallo, jalapeno and the star of the show: nopales or leaves from a prickly pear cactus. Chunks of nopales are put inside the burrito as well as added to the scrambled egg mixture. The nopales are sourced locally in Santa Barbara and grilled, giving them a chewy, hearty texture and slightly bitter taste.
A generous amount of pico de gallo provides some heat to the burrito without overpowering the other flavors. I appreciated the freshness of the pico de gallo which offset the savory eggs and beans. I also chose to eat my burrito with a generous helping of salsa verde. When ordering breakfast burritos, I’m often concerned about receiving something soggy, but El Zarape toasts one side of their burritos in a pan before serving to give their burritos a bit more structure and crunch.
As my first introduction to nopales and the food at El Zarape, I was pleasantly surprised. My only request is that they continue to serve this burrito year-round!
Los Agaves’ $8 Carnitas Burrito
By Mari Villalpando-Ortega
In celebration of Burrito Week in Santa Barbara and welcoming myself back to Isla Vista for the school year a burrito from Los Agaves was just what I needed. Especially for the special deal of $8 — in Santa Barbara, that’s a price you simply cannot top.
The carnitas burrito was wrapped in a freshly warmed tortilla and packed with flavor. The carnitas themselves were delicious, but paired with the signature rice and beans, lettuce, sour cream and guacamole, it was the pinnacle of any burrito in Santa Barbara. The savory meat combined with the freshness of the sour cream, lettuce and pico de gallo made for a perfect bite, complimenting the richness of the carnitas so perfectly.
I am usually picky about the ratio of rice and beans in a burrito, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they don’t overdo it with these two. Additionally, the flour tortilla was grilled on one side but still soft. With every bite of the burrito, I had some of my favorite guacamole, salsa and a bit of the chips they provided.
I always think that the sign of a good Mexican restaurant is that they give you chips and dip while you wait for your food to come out. When I moved to Isla Vista, I thought the days in which I would re-encounter such deliciousness and service were gone until I stumbled upon Los Agaves after the worst hangover of my young life. An honorable mention is the jamaica they serve, which is a refreshing drink with just the right sweetness and tang, perfect for a hot afternoon. I will definitely be back for more, even if I have to pay full price.
Super Cuca’s Sausage Breakfast Burrito
By Abigail Monti
Without a doubt, Super Cuca’s is a beloved favorite of I.V. residents. After all, UCSB students voted Super Cucas as having the “Best Burrito” in last year’s “Best of 2022-2023” awards. With their huge selection of options — including enchiladas, taco plates, quesadillas, tortas, burritos, agua frescas and smoothies — and their inflation-resistant prices, it’s no wonder why.
But today I am here to bring attention to a lesser-recognized section of their menu: their breakfast burritos. Packed with protein, eggs, cheese and potatoes, and melted to perfection, their burritos make the morning sun shine a little brighter. Genuinely, Super Cuca’s breakfast burritos were the reason why I made it to half my 8 a.m. classes last quarter. To celebrate Burrito Week, I ordered the Sausage Breakfast Burrito and smothered it with ranchero salsa. As always, it did not disappoint. I’m a huge fan of savory breakfasts and Super Cuca’s knows how to nail the ratio of salty, spicy and umami. In addition to the Sausage Breakfast Burrito, Super Cuca’s offers an incredible 12 other breakfast burrito options. In the past, I’ve tried and loved their Protein Breakfast Burrito and Bacon Burrito. Based on their stellar consistency from dish to dish, I’d confidently guess that the other iterations are just as tasty.
Not to mention, Super Cuca’s is known for serving up massive portions. Personally, one of their breakfast burritos lasts me two breakfasts. While this might not be true for everyone, their price-to-portion ratio is impressive regardless. Honestly, out of the 21 participating restaurants, Super Cuca’s regular prices might be the closest to the $8 deal. They charge a reasonable $10.49 for most of their meat breakfast burritos and only $8.89 for their meatless variation. Even when the Burrito Week deal ends, you can bet I’ll still be stopping by.
A version of this article appeared on p. 8 of the October 5, 2023 version of the Daily Nexus.