- Alex Springer
I will be the first one to tell you that anything can fit into a burrito and be delicious. Throughout my dining experiences, I've seen burrito innovators hard at work pushing the envelope—er, tortilla—to create items that defy expectations. Take SanFran Burrito N Fryz (3390 S. State Street, Ste. 35, 801-419-0227, sfburritout.com) for instance. This is a menu that gleefully cherry picks items from the realms of Korean, Japanese, Mexican and American cuisines, and I've been curious to see how this restaurant keeps its balance since they opened back in March. After visiting this cozy little spot inside the Chinatown Supermarket, all I can really say is that burritos continue to be the great culinary equalizer.
SanFran Burrito N Fryz comes to Utah by way of San Francisco, where the owners used to operate a similar business called Jasmin's Café. Their concept was to blend their knowledge of Korean cuisine with a Californian take on Mexican food. With this magical idea at the ready, they created a menu that dares to combine traditional bulgogi with shredded cheddar cheese and crispy tater tots—and now all of us lucky Utahns can get a quick taste of this flavor combo while perusing wares at the finest Asian supermarket in town.
If the kimchi of Korean fare is what draws you to this particular table, you'll want to start with Mama's Kimchi Burrito ($10). I feel like this is also the best way to immerse yourself in the San Fran Burrito N Fryz concept—this one has a vibe all its own. The first flavor that hits you is the kimchi. There's a lot of this Korean all-star condiment inside Mama's burrito, and it delivers a bit more of an acidic tang than it does spicy heat. Once you get a bit of the rice, spicy pork and fried egg, you're in familiar bibimbap territory, but then the shredded cheese, salsa and crema show up and you're suddenly unsure of your surroundings. At first, this combo feels a bit disorienting—it's easy for your mouth to get lost in this fusion of flavors—but it's not long before you're enjoying yourself. It's rejuvenating for those of us who have been around the gastronomic block a few times to experience something so discordantly delicious.
For something a bit less extreme but equally delicious, the BBQ Burrito ($9.75) evokes an elevated take on traditional breakfast burritos. It's the combo of barbecue beef and pork along with the cheese, tots and fried egg that really make this item stand out. It's got a heavy dose of gochujang that ramps up the barbecue flavor, creating a gooey, meaty and immensely satisfying burrito experience.
Fans of more traditional burrito flavors can check out the California Burrito ($9.75) or the Best Breakfast Burrito Ever ($8.50), which stick to more familiar waters. The grilled chicken and crunchy tots inside the California Burrito have all the right moves, but the lack of avocado here was a bit disappointing—it could have used the extra creaminess to tie the other ingredients together. The breakfast burrito, on the other hand, is precisely what it should be. I love the audacity of the name, and it does swing for the fences with tots and eggs mixing with bacon and cheese, but I don't know if it actually qualifies as best ever in my book. Burrito fans will be happy with either of these options, but I'd stick with their Korean-inspired items to see where SanFran really shines.
Though burritos are this place's signature dish, wandering into the non-burrito section of the menu is worth a try. The Japanese-inspired tonkatsu ($10.99) is a savory dream of fried pork and gochujang. After being breaded in panko and fried to perfection, this pork cutlet gets sliced up, piled on top of some fluffy white rice and served alongside a lightly dressed cabbage slaw. It's a classic slice of Asian comfort food and it's done to simple perfection. The addition of green onion and thinly sliced jalapeño add just the right amount of zing to tie the whole dish together.
Since fries—or "fryz," to be more accurate—are in the name of the restaurant, I couldn't pass up a chance to see what kinds of fried taters SanFran was working with. Their original fries ($2.50) are of the crinkle cut variety and offer the girth, flavor and texture that sets crinkle cut fries apart from their cousins. I caught myself wondering whether or not SanFran's choice to stuff its burritos with tots instead of these golden-brown fatties was a missed opportunity. Not that the tots ($5) are bad in any way—they're definitely top-tier with their crispy exterior and fluffy interior—but those crinkle cut numbers would absolutely destroy when placed inside a burrito. For the tater tot apologists who might disagree with me, you'll always have the tater tot nachos ($10.50). This gorgeous food pile comes with your choice of protein along with cheese, beans, guacamole and green onions.
SanFran Burrito N Fryz is one of those rare places that can pull off a bonkers menu, and they do so in a friendly and welcoming way. If you're after something along the path less traveled, it's worth giving them a try.