Food Critics: The Best Burritos And Wraps In Kansas City
Burritos and wraps are glorious things.
Just about anything can go in a tortilla. And voila, a complete meal that's portable and ready to go.
But what's the difference between a wrap and a burrito?
"A burrito is typically warm or hot, and a wrap is generally cold, in my experience," food critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.
Logan, along with fellow food critics Jenny Vergara and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best burritos and wraps in and around Kansas City.
Here are their recommendations:
Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:
- Red Kitchen Tamales — breakfast burrito. The owner opens her stand inside the Lenexa Public Market at 7:30 a.m. and usually has a line for her breakfast burritos. They’re made with Caramelo Tortillas (which are made in Lawrence from pork or duck fat from The Local Pig). They are the absolute BOMBDIGGITY! The flour tortillas are heated up until they are almost translucent, and then they are filled with scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, tomatillos. You can pick your protein from chorizo, bacon or sausage.
- Scott’s Kitchen and Catering at Hangar 29 — Bern Street breakfast burrito. This is a healthy size, served in a flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, potatoes, mixed cheese and Hangar 29 salsa with your choice of protein. I like to get the house-made chipotle ghost pepper sausage that has a little kick to it. Big enough to eat half for breakfast and half for lunch. This gem out by the airport opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast and lunch, serving real competitive-style barbecue and Mexican favorites.
- The Corner Mexican Food in Grandview — burritos. A real hole-in-the-wall that hasn’t been open long, but its Mexican food is for really real. Sopes or masa flatbreads made by hand, street tacos, tortas, gorditas menudo and burritos. The burritos are massive: a couple of flour tortillas, laid end-to-end and stuffed with rice, refried beans, lettuce, onions, cilantro and meat of your choice (beef, pastor, chicken, chorizo, carnitas, beef or chicken tinga, pork rind or pork leg). They also have a vegetarian version that sounds good. Chef/owner Alejandro Martinez managed the Martin City Brewing Company kitchen and won the Culinary Fight Club KC Taco competition in 2017.
- Shawarmar. This new, locally owned and operated little drive-thru used to be Popeyes on Linwood (it's near the Costco). It takes a minute to put your order together, but it's worth it to sample their unusual falafel wrap that has scratch-made falafel patties, hummus, fresh house salad and pickled turnips, drizzled with tahini sauce. The shish tawook is a wrap with a boneless breast of chicken that's marinated in a blend of spices, grilled, and served wrapped in a thin pita wrap with a creamy garlic sauce, mint leaves, pickles and French fries.
- The Mixx — Cobb wrap. I love the clean modern aesthetic of The Mixx. It looks like a restaurant that would be at home in California, which is where most people suspect the wrap came from. The Cobb wrap is a favorite in the salad-in-a-tortilla-themed wraps. It’s filled with house-roasted turkey, tomato, avocado, bacon, arugula, creamy gorgonzola, vinegar and oil, and wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with potato chips or pasta salad on the side.
- Mildred’s in the Crossroads — chipotle turkey wrap. My go-to lunch; it has sliced turkey breast, corn salsa, chipotle aioli, spinach and avocado on a tortilla, and it's served with chips. Thankfully, Mildred’s is moving to a bigger location in the Crossroads because this one is always busy. But it is a great place to grab a quick lunch or meet someone for coffee.
- Longboards Wraps & Bowls — grilled burrito-style wraps. With several locations now, their wraps have stood the test of time. I like their wraps because they're grilled, so they're warm and hold up to the hot ingredients inside. Like the Wow! Kung Pao, which is filled with warm chicken, peanuts, pepper jack cheese, vegetables, rice, Sriracha and spicy Chinese sauce in a wheat wrap.
- Twisted Fresh has about nine different wraps to choose from, and everything is made fresh. My favorites are the BBQ chicken (grilled organic chicken with shredded cheddar, savory bacon, sweet honey BBQ sauce, onions, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes) and the spicy Thai chicken wrap (grilled organic chicken and spicy Thai slaw with cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo and Sriracha honey aioli). Locally owned.
- Longboards. There are several different flavor combinations and also styles of wraps. There’s the OG wrap, which is more of a traditional Mission wrap (think big tortilla with lots of filling). There’s the Cool Style wraps with lettuce and served cold. Then, there’s the Grilled Style wrap. Finally, they have a Grilled Flat wrap, which is more like a quesadilla. My favorites are the pork luau and the Thai chicken grilled wraps. The interior of each Longboards makes you feel like you just got out of the water and walked into a beach restaurant. Surfboards are all around. You may even find a VW bus inside for seating.
- Pita Blu makes great “yeeros” but I like the beef and lamb kebab. It’s a mix of ground beef and lamb wrapped in pita bread with lots of tzatziki sauce, tomatoes and sliced onions. I usually order it with the seasoned potato fries and a Greek lemonade. You can find this drive-thru near 119th Street and Metcalf.
Burritos — a few types:
- Mission burrito (a.k.a. a San Francisco burrito or Mission-style burrito). Think big. Big tortilla + rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and other ingredients = a BIG Burrito. Think Chipotle or Qdoba.
- Wet burrito. Smothered in a red enchilada sauce with melted shredded cheddar cheese. Eaten with a knife and fork instead of with the hands.
- Breakfast burrito. Usually made with scrambled eggs, chunks of potato and meat (chorizo, sausage, etc.).
- Red Kitchen Tamales — breakfast burritos. Located in one of the vendor booths at Lenexa Public Market, Red Kitchen Tamales makes these wonderful breakfast burritos. Unlike a Mission-style burrito, they are smaller and filled with scrambled eggs, chunks of potato and a choice of chorizo, sausage or bacon. They're $3 each, you can eat one and be satisfied or eat two if you’re hungry.
- Burrito Brothers. Whenever I go to the City Market to pick up fruits and vegetables or spices, it’s hard for me to choose where to eat lunch. Burrito Brothers is one of my favorites. Serving Mission-style burritos, they offer a wide variety of various proteins and vegetables to add to a burrito (chicken, steak, carnitas, chorizo, shrimp, Portobello mushrooms, spinach, etc.). The ingredients are locally sourced and the guacamole is made fresh daily.
- Bonito Michoacán. Simple is best sometimes. When you enter into Bonito Michoacán, you’ll see grocery items, a bakery, a meat market and a café over to the right. The café is a series of booths seating two to four people. That’s where you’ll find one of the best burritos. And because there’s a meat market, you can order fillings such as pastor (pork with pineapple and onions), asada (marinated grilled steak) or even tongue or tripe. The burritos are big and filling. There are two locations: Kansas City, Kansas, and Olathe.
Charles Ferruzza, food writer:
- Longboards. Favorite choices: teriyaki grill wrap (choice of chicken or beef, mozzarella, vegetables, rice, and teriyaki sauce on a honey wheat wrap) and the Thai chicken wrap (chicken, vegetables, pepper jack, rice, and peanut sauce on a chipotle wrap).
- The Mixx — Cobb wrap. The best way to eat a messy salad.
- Tortilleria San Antonio in Kansas City, Kansas. This is a grocery store/deli kind of place. I like the pork burrito, but they have tripe, tongue and other ingredients. I just let them put in everything else but the kitchen sink. The burritos are great; grande but not humongous, and well-flavored.
- Burritos La Chiquita in Kansas City, Kansas. It’s my all-time go-to for burritos. They serve really traditional home-style burritos, like picadillo (ground beef, potatoes and peas all stewed together). It just reminds me of stuff my mom used to make and roll up in a tortilla; there’s just a home-cooked flavor. It’s a neighborhood place that’s really affordable.
- Scott’s Kitchen — burnt end breakfast burrito. Really delicious and unlike anything I’ve ever had. It’s burnt ends, breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa. It’s a total Kansas City burrito.
- Carmen’s Cocina II in south Olathe — breakfast burrito. It’s really good and everything is homemade. The chorizo breakfast burrito is second to none. You kind of have to get there early or you’ll be waiting in line. It’s pretty inexpensive; the chorizo burrito is $3. It’s just a small hometown place with five tables.
- California Taco Shop in Kansas City, Kansas. A wide variety of big burritos (the size of Chipotle’s) that are so skillfully wrapped that they do not fall apart. My favorite is the breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs, potato, cheese, rice and beans. All of the burritos are under $5. They also serve traditional Mexican plates.
- Burritos To Go in Kansas City, Kansas. The puerco en salsa roja, chicharrón, and chile relleno are all delicious, and they’re open until 4 a.m. most nights!
- Burritos To Go. My spot in Kansas City, Kansas, right off I-670/Central next to the gas station. It's just beans and filling. My favorites are the Madrileña, which is a mix of pork, jalapeño and other magical stuff and the spicy pollo verde. Under $4 and open late!