Los de Juarez Burritos in Anaheim brings the burrito back from the borderlands

Deshebrada, a chile colorado burrito and a rajas burrito at Los de Juarez Burritos.
From left to right: Deshebrada, a chile colorado burrito and a rajas burrito with pasilla chile at Los de Juarez Burritos in Anaheim.
(James Carbone)

When Omar De la Vega first moved to California, he remembers ordering a burrito at a restaurant and being surprised by the colossus of calories that came out of the kitchen.

“They gave me this huge brick,” said De la Vega, an immigrant from Juarez, Mexico. “It felt like a diaper because it was so big. I thought to myself, ‘What is this?’”

With Chipotle exporting its version of San Francisco’s hefty Mission burritos across the United States and with San Diego’s famed California burritos stuffing French fries into the fray, burritos have built a reputation as behemoths on this side of the border.


But with Los de Juarez Burritos, a new restaurant in Anaheim, De la Vega and Juan Del Rio, his business partner, are hoping to slim the burrito down in returning the meal back to its borderland beginnings.

Omar De la Vega, left, and Juan Del Rio in front of  Los de Juarez Burritos in Anaheim.
Omar De la Vega, left, and Juan Del Rio in front of their new Los de Juarez Burritos restaurant in Anaheim.
(James Carbone)

“That’s where the burrito originated,” said De la Vega. “There’s tons of burrito places everywhere in Juarez, just like you would see taquerías anywhere else in Mexico.”

There are several origin stories staking their claim to the burrito.

One tale holds that miners in the Mexican state of Sonora invented the meal, which traveled down the mouths of mines by donkey, or “burro” in Spanish.

Los de Juarez Burritos presents the Mexican state of Chihuahua’s version.

As a decal painted inside the restaurant relays, a vendor by the name Juan Mendez wrapped his guisados, or “stews,” in flour tortillas to keep them smoldering for customers. Mendez is said to have sold his food in Juarez during the Mexican Revolution by donkey, hence the name “burritos,” that followed.

At Los de Juarez Burritos, the menu remains faithful to Chihuahua’s claim.

The chef prepares a rajas burrito stuffed with pasilla chile, corn and cream cheese.
The chef prepares a rajas burrito stuffed with pasilla chile, corn and cream cheese at Los de Juarez Burritos.
(James Carbone)

“It’s a variety of guisados that we make with just a little slap of beans,” said De la Vega. “Roll it up and that’s it. It’s nice-sized burrito!”

The restaurant offers eight different types of burritos to choose from for single orders, combos and family packs.

De la Vega counts the shredded beef, known as deshebrada, and chile colorado burritos as the two that taste the most like home to him. But customers can also order rajas, pollo en chipotle, chicharron and birria burritos to slay their appetites.

The rajas burrito is delightfully creamy in texture and slightly sweet with slices of pasilla chile meshed with white rice, corn and cream cheese. A smoky flavor accentuates the pollo en chipotle burrito while the chile colorado burrito is delectably spicy.

Even the bean and cheese burrito, the cheapest on the menu, pleases in its scrumptious simplicity.

Though long and slim, the restaurant’s burritos are deceptively filling. Without being stuffed with fillers, scarfing down two will leave the belly’s tank on full for more than a few hours.

But the common denominator between them all is the flour tortilla.

The tortillas outstretch the individual trays the burritos are served in and are toasted on each side. They are sturdy but pliable with a homemade taste proving that you could judge a burrito by its wrapping at the restaurant — and get away with it.

Los de Juarez Burritos is now open in Anaheim.
(James Carbone)

In readying what De la Vega called a “passion project,” he returned to Juarez in 2022 for the first time in decades to do some burrito scouting. Del Rio accompanied him on the research trip.

Both felt that opening a restaurant dedicated to Juarez-style burritos could do well after a chance encounter with a woman selling burritos out of a cooler on an earlier research trip to Tijuana for another restaurant.

Once in Juarez, they ate their way through mainstays like Burritos Crisostomo but found true inspiration in veteran restaurants like Burritos El Compa.

“We tried every single burrito on the menu,” De la Vega recalled of Burritos El Compa. “There was such a simplicity to the burritos. The flavor, the tortillas’ texture — everything was there! I didn’t want to leave.”

Omar De la Vega, co-owner of Los Juarez Burritos, helps a customer choose from a menu of burritos.
(James Carbone)

De la Vega is hoping that patrons at Los de Juarez Burritos, which had a soft opening on March 28, will feel the same way.

He’s been surprised by how many Mexicans from Chihuahua are in Southern California and have already walked through the doors looking for a taste of home.

For the uninitiated who try to order a carne asada burrito at the restaurant, De la Vega patiently shares the Mendez story and explains the concept behind Los de Juarez Burritos.

“It’s been very positive, so far,” he said. “Our main goal is for the burritos to speak for themselves.”