The breakfast burrito. You’d have to live on another planet to not recognize the phrase, which evokes images of overstuffed flour tortillas with eggs, potatoes, guacamole and whatever else the restaurant might have that day.

Whether coming off a hot lap on Teton Pass or rushing to work after a day at the resort, the breakfast burrito’s portability and bang-for-you-buck calorie delivery make it the ideal food for a ski day. Incidentally, those qualities also make it perfect for mountain biking, rafting, hiking, or inducing a hangover-curing sleep.

Because we live in a town whose denizens measure the quality of their lives by the caliber and quantity of their outdoor activities, it’s unsurprising the breakfast burrito is ubiquitous.

How did it become so popular? What happened to the bagel sandwich, the sit-down 2-by-2? Burrito lore points to a little cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico, called Tia Sophia’s, which claims to be the first to wrap eggs and bacon in a tortilla. One could also blame the need for such a portable breakfast on America itself, in which the average workweek has stretched to nearly 50 hours, according to Gallup, and chefs are known to bastardize other cultures’ foods.

In the traditional form, the burrito, which comes from northern Mexico, is not the bulging mass of calories we Americans indulge in and love. According to food writer Gustavo Arrellano, the northern region of Sonora was known for wheat farming, and Sonorans likely wrapped leftover rice and beans in tortillas for days in the field. Those burritos were closer to the size of a frozen microwave burrito than the dumbbell substitute you can buy at Picnic.

Whichever way the breakfast burrito weaseled its way into the American food lexicon, it’s here to stay. Taking the “Y” intersection as a starting point, you could travel in any direction and find a burrito before you left Jackson Hole. With so many options, we, as a newsroom, tried some of them to prepare you for your next moveable feast.

The Classic: D.O.G.

Once at the base of the pass, and still in its original location on Glenwood Street, this is probably the burrito you think of when asked for the quintessential Jackson breakfast burrito. It’s likely, though perhaps hyperbolic, that everyone in Jackson has eaten a D.O.G. burrito in the past five years.

With meat and vegetarian options, as well as classics like the RBG (a delicious vegetarian wrap with a healthy dose of guacamole), D.O.G. has the breakfast burrito dialed. For those on the go, the restaurant keeps a smattering of standard offerings in a case, but for those willing to wait, it gives out some of the freshest burritos in town.

Even with the burritos found under the heat tray, you’re unlikely to find a slimy offering with old vegetables. The ingredients are chopped nightly, and the turnover is so quick that even as the lunch hour approaches, you’re probably not going to find something that has sat since the place opened.

“I can’t think of anything that would make this better,” copy editor Mark Huffman said during the taste test.

The Sit-down: Picnic

No burrito in town epitomizes the Americanization of the food quite like Picnic’s. That’s not to say it doesn’t taste good. On the contrary, the chunks of egg souffle meld with the chorizo and the avocado to create one of the better options.

Unless you have the metabolism of a 16-year-old cross-country runner or a few cups of coffee, eating Picnic’s wrapped creation in one sitting can be a day ruiner. Eating it in-house is recommended, because it comes topped with Mexican crema and salsa. If you decide to take it to go, it’s heavy enough to tire your arm out as your carry it to your car, and it might necessitate a trailhead nap before you go out for your ride.

The Up-and-Comer: Rations

No offense to D.O.G., but the burrito game has been seriously improved in Wilson since Rations opened. There was always a stark difference between a D.O.G. burrito purchased at the in-town location and the Wilson one, and Rations has replaced heat-lamp burritos with fresh ones.

Its offerings are grab and go, just like D.O.G., but the turnover is quick, meaning they stay fresh, and the high-quality meat, including Carter Country beef in the barbacoa wrap, pairs well with the crispy hashbrowns. Tasty pinto beans, unique to Rations in the pantheon of Jackson burritos, give it texture, though some of our testers lamented an uneven spice.

Vegetarians, don’t fret. Based on popular demand, Rations has introduced a veggie burrito, which has proved to be more popular than the chorizo or barbacoa ones. On the day the News&Guide tested Rations’ fare, the veggie burritos were long gone by early morning.

“They’re almost always gone before the meat ones,” chef and owner Brian Laughlin said.

The Last Resort:

Jackson Whole Grocer

Meh. That’s the summation of the News&Guide testers in regards to the Whole Grocer’s grab-and-go breakfast burritos. They weren’t terrible, and if you’re heading south of town and you realize you forgot to eat breakfast, they’re passable.

They almost certainly appeared to have been made before the store opened, meaning by midmorning the sogginess of the peppers and onions had transferred to the tortilla, which stuck to the foil wrap. The vegetarian burrito was the clear favorite of the two with our testers, who were disappointed by the way the meat overpowered the flavor of everything else in the carnivore’s option.

Whole Grocer’s burritos stuck out only because they are the cheapest by a couple of bucks, so if you’re on a budget, or have lower standards, they’re perfect.

The Wrap Up

These are by no means your only options. On the south end of town, Maverik is purported to have a tasty wrap that costs only $3. If Rations didn’t exist, that would easily make its wrap Jackson Hole’s best gas station burrito. Creekside Market also has breakfast burritos. If you’ve overshot on your way to D.O.G. you can still get one on your way to Grand Teton National Park. And for those in Teton Village, Southcable Cafe claims to make the best breakfast burrito in the village.

No matter which of these is your favorite, or if you disagree with our tasters’ opinions, the breakfast burrito is the perfect food to fuel a day in the mountains. Take one to go, eat it in minivan crammed full of friends and ski gear or scarf it down by yourself on the way to work. Whatever your choosing, you can’t go wrong. 

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-5902 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

(1) comment

Mike Nelson

When it can, an addition to this list, highly recommended. E.leaven. They are a must-try.

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