Tijuana is a taco town, but for those of us who are burrito people, one of the city’s oldest and most beloved restaurants is a walk-up burrito window. Bol Corona was named for a bowling alley that was next door and is now dust. Today it is a handful of burrito stands scattered around Tijuana serving a classic Sonoran burrito: just a scoop of meat or beans in a freshly made flour tortilla.
Bol Corona is so closely associated with Tijuana burritos that some call its machaca burrito a style all its own: the Tijuana-style burrito. Some even credit the restaurant with helping to popularize burritos in Alta California. The only evidence for this claim is that the restaurant was founded on the border around the same time that burritos became popular in California. Coincidence? Probably.
The restaurant makes about a dozen different burritos. The must-try is machaca, a Sonoran desert classic. Dried shredded beef is reconstituted in grease and fried with onions and peppers until oily and moist. It retains a concentrated beefy taste but absorbs much flavor from the aromatic vegetables. It’s as rich and complex as stew – especially impressive for something that is served over a counter.
The other burrito we recommend is humble bean and cheese, our all-time favorite. The beans are thick and flavorful and the cheese is creamy and in perfect proportion with the beans. It’s a hearty and less intense counterpoint to the intensity of the machaca.
All said, Bol Corona makes some of the best burritos on the West Coast of the Americas. Fillings are top grade and the fresh flour tortillas are in the upper echelon. They are smaller than their Sonoran counterparts, and aren’t nearly in the same weight class as the gargantuan, rice-stuffed Mission variety. It takes at least two to fill a hungry person.
On last visit, we snagged one of the best aguas frescas we’ve ever tasted: honeydew melon and lime.
Bol Corona is open around the clock on the weekends. Breakfast burritos are available for those that manage to make it to one of the stands before 11:30 a.m. Machacca and eggs is a worthy reward for early risers. Next time, we’re going to buy a box of bean and cheese burritos to see how well they freeze.