El Pel贸n Taqueria’s Burrito Ranked One of the Country’s Best

Nate Silver and David Chang choose three New England establishments in their FiveThirtyEight 'Burrito Bracket.'

By | Chowder |
nate silver

“Burrito” image by Shutterstock

Political prognosticator. Celebrated sabermetrics guru. Writer and聽editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight blog. Nate Silver is many things, but there is one attribute聽most people don’t聽know: the acclaimed statistician is a聽self-proclaimed “burritophile.” Before he became a household name for accurately predicting the outcome of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Silver was using his statistical proficiency to dissect the best burritos in his Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. Silver whittled down his 2007 search to five taquerias, then got distracted, building the concept that would eventually become FiveThirtyEight. Since then, Silver’s followers have been beseeching him to resume his aborted search.

This summer, not only is Silver revisiting his neglected, NCAA-style Burrito Bracket, he’s conducting a national search for the greatest burrito in the country.

That鈥檚 what we鈥檙e about to do. We鈥檙e launching a national, 64-restaurant Burrito Bracket. We鈥檝e convened a Burrito Selection Committee. We鈥檝e hired an award-winning journalist, Anna Maria Barry-Jester, to be our burrito correspondent. She鈥檚 already out traveling the country and sampling burritos from every establishment聽that made the bracket.聽

Of the 64 contestants vying for the vaunted title, three burrito specialists represent the New England area: El Pel贸n Taqueria near Fenway, Anna’s Taqueria in Brookline, and Los Coco’s Tacos in Kittery, Maine.

Art by FiveThirtyEight

Art by FiveThirtyEight

So how do you narrow down a field that contains聽over 67,000 competitors? To address that problem, Silver has used crowd-sourcing site, Yelp,聽to create an overall rating system he’s dubbed聽“Value Over Replacement Burrito (VORB).” He then employed a crew of “burrito experts” like David Chang, Gustavo Arellano, and Bill Addison of Eater National to select 16 challengers is four regions of the U.S.

David Chang, of the Momofuku Restaurant Group and editor of聽Lucky Peach聽magazine, was responsible for sifting through the thousands of candidates in The Northeast bracket. He travelled a geographic area extending from Missouri to Maine to find the 16 most worthy examples.聽El Pel贸n Taqueria scored an astronomical 15.4 on Silver’s VORB scale and was rewarded with the No. 2聽seed in the region. Of Anna鈥檚 Taqueria, Chang gave the backhanded compliment, 鈥淣othing is great but the sum of the parts makes it very good.鈥 Regardless, Anna’s fell just short of the top four and scored聽the fifth overall seed. Maine’s Loco’s Coco’s was given a respectable No. 9聽seed.

So, what happens now? How聽will聽El Pel贸n stack up against intimidating competitors such as La Pasadita in Chicago, Cabo Bob’s in Austin, or its stiffest competition, El Farolito in San Francisco? To answer that question, FiveThirtyEight has sent out journalist Anna Barry-Jester to sample each of the final 64. Instead of six rounds to pare down the field, Barry-Jester is conducting three concentrated rounds to determine a winner. Stayed tuned to FiveThirtyEight to see where New England’s burrito experts rank.

NORTHEAST REGION

1. La Pasadita
1132 N Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
VORB score:聽5.3

2. El Pel贸n Taqueria
92 Peterborough St.
Boston, MA 02215
VORB score:聽15.4

3. Los Gallos Mexican Taqueria
951 Wolf St.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
VORB score:聽4.8

4.聽L鈥橮atron Tacos
2815 W Diversey Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
VORB score:聽8.3

5.聽Anna鈥檚 Taqueria
446 Harvard St.
Brookline, MA 02446
VORB score:聽8.8

6.聽Cucina Zapata
Ludlow St. & S 31st St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
VORB score:聽8.6

7.聽Irazu
1865 N Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
VORB score:聽10.0

8.聽Lloyd Taco Truck
Buffalo, NY
VORB score:聽9.5

9.聽Loco Coco鈥檚 Tacos
36 Walker St.
Kittery, ME 03904
VORB score:聽8.3

10.聽La Michoacana Taqueria
436 Highway 1 W
Iowa City, IA 52246
VORB score:聽8.3

11.聽Mission Cantina
172 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002
VORB score:聽N/A

12.聽Northstar Caf茅
4241 N High St.
Columbus, OH 43214
VORB score:聽11.5鈥

13.聽Pancho鈥檚 Mexican Taqueria
2303 Arctic Ave.
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
VORB score:聽3.0

14.聽Taqueria Tlaxcalli
2103 Starling Ave.
Bronx, NY 10462
VORB score:聽8.8

15.聽Tortacos
9629 Lost Knife Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
VORB score:聽7.6

16.聽Tres Carnes
688 6th Ave.
New York, NY 10010
VORB score:聽6.7

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/blog/2014/06/08/nate-silver-burrito-bracket/