Al and Bea's, an LA institution.
I’ve eaten a lot of bean and cheese burritos this year and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it's that there are a lot of bad bean and cheese burritos in LA. Very few places take the bean and cheese burrito seriously enough. The reason so many bean and cheese burritos suck is because most of them fall victim to the same common mistake; not enough cheese. This mistake is easily remedied – just add enough cheese. You shouldn’t have to ask for extra cheese when ordering a bean and cheese burrito just to guard yourself against getting a cheese-less burrito. Of course some bean and cheese burritos suck for other reasons like gross beans or a terrible wrap(one bite and the filling falls into your lap).
I’m not really venturing into unchartered territory here. Most of these burritos have been discussed on Chowhound. The top 3 ,and 5 out of the top 10 were mentioned by Jonathon Gold in this article. But since the Internet loves top 10 lists I thought I would give you my top 10.
10. Garduno's (2206 West Whittier Boulevard, Montebello) There’s plenty of cheese with beans that have nice flavor. The only thing you have to watch out for is the loose wrap. Half way through the burrito started to have structural issues, likely because of the thin tortilla.
Garduno's bean and cheese
9. Titos Tacos (11222 Washington Place Culver City) –The bean and cheese isn’t quite what I remember it being as a kid but it’s still one of my favorites. For a little extra flavor ask them to ladle some meat sauce inside the burrito.
8. Benitos (7912 Beverly Blvd. (at Fairfax)) – They really know how to make a bean and cheese burrito here. The strengths are the soft tortilla and the cheese to beans ratio. I’ve had dozens of bean and cheese burritos from Benitos (the Fairfax location) and they are very consistent.
7 Tonia’s(4233 Rosemead Blvd., Pico Rivera ) – Green chile and cheese- The beans are flavorful and the strips of green chile do wonders. Could have been higher if they were more consistent with the cheese to beans ratio. Sometimes there’s lots of cheese, sometimes not.
Tonia's bean and cheese
6 Pepe’s(511 W Valley Blvd Alhambra, CA 91803) The beans are whipped into a smooth paste and the burrito is loaded with cheese;some melted, some not. The firm wrap and the flavor of the beans is what makes the burrito so satisfying.
5. Lupe’s(Pico Rivera)(8653 Beverly Blvd Pico Rivera, CA 90660) - A tight wrap stuffed with roasted strips of green chile, pockets of half-melted cheese and some of the tastiest beans you’ll find.
4. Ramonas (13633 S Western Ave Gardena, CA 90249)- Lots of flavor and loaded with melted cheese. Ramona's is more well known for their frozen burritos. At the restaurant in Gardena they serve them fresh and the difference is night and day.
Ramona's bean and cheese
3. J&S (887 N Garfield Ave Montebello, CA 90640) – Sometimes it’s hard to see the cheese because it’s blended in with the beans. So what? These are probably the best beans I’ve had from a burrito stand in LA. And the kicker is this burrito is only $2.10.
2. Lupes #2(4642 East 3rd Street Los Angeles, CA 90022) – Green chile or red chile and cheese. Both are excellent. The red chile is spicy and sort of overwhelms the burrito (but in a good way). The green chile and cheese is the signature burrito with strips of green chile that are married with yellow cheese and free flowing beans.
1. Al and Bea’s(2025 E 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90033) - Green chile and cheese. They say the secret is the lard. Whatever it is the flavor here is unmatched by any burrito stand in LA. The first time I had this burrito I came back every day for a week. The Al and Bea’s green chile bean and cheese is a masterpiece.