Slideshow: 8 Great Meatless Burritos in the Mission, San Francisco

Little Chihuahua
Little Chihuahua

Tortilla: Vegetarian
Beans: Vegetarian
Rice: Vegetarian

The menu calls it a “Fried Plantain & Black Bean Burrito” ($8.95), but plantains are the clear stars of this sweet bundle. A skinny-dip in the deep fryer paints a mahogany shell around each bulky piece. Firmer than a banana and not as floral, their fruitiness dominates a supporting cast of roasted red peppers, rice and beans, and pico de gallo. The smidgen of sour cream and cheese might as well exit stage left; you can hardly taste them. Drizzle on some smoky chipotle salsa from the salsa bar or break for intermission with a bite of accompanying cabbage slaw. It’s uncomfortably sharp but will clear your palate for more plantain.

Little Chihuahua: 581 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (map); 415-355-9144;thelittlechihuahua.com‎

[Photograph: Tory Putnam]

El Farolito
El Farolito

Tortilla: Vegetarian
Beans: Vegetarian
Rice: Vegetarian

You don’t have to eat meat to understand why San Franciscans adore this dive, but you do have to love cheese. The chile in the Chile Relleno Burrito ($6.80 regular, $7.80 super) oozes melted jack in one continuous motion, like a magician pulling a never-ending scarf from his hat. Make it “super,” and the relleno cheese will fuse with the cheese that’s melted on your tortilla to create a gooey monster. Throw in some globs of sour cream, and you’ll be full for a solid week. If all that sounds overwhelming, consider just adding avocado, or more specifically, one-half avocado. There’s just one aggravation here—the cooks sometimes don’t reheat the relleno enough to sufficiently warm the interior cheese which results in a pliant but room temperature mass.

El Farolito: 2779 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (map); 415-824-7877 ;elfarolitoinc.com/

[Photograph: Alissa Merksamer]

El Metate
El Metate

Tortilla: Vegetarian
Rice: Vegetarian
Beans: Vegetarian

The seasonal veggie burrito ($6 regular, $7 super) from El Metate looks puny by taqueria standards, but it’s plenty for a normal human appetite. On first bite, you’ll hit a thick slice of carrot followed by a quarter of zucchini. Keep going to find fat broccoli florets, cabbage, and sweet caramelized bits of onion that snuck in some extra cook time. Here, the vegetables are sautéed in a pan rather than on the flat top and taken off while they still have some crunch. A dearth of salsa fresca is rectified with a trip to the small but solid salsa bar.

El Metate: 2406 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (map); 415-641-7209

[Photograph: Tory Putnam]

Curry Up Now
Curry Up Now

Rice: Vegetarian
Tortilla: Vegetarian
Garbanzo beans: Vegetarian

A tortilla filled with Indian curry is such an obviously perfect union that you can’t believe no one thought of it before. At Curry Up Now, which operates a truck in San Francisco as well as restaurants in San Mateo and Palo Alto, all the vegetarian burritos ($8.50) are excellent. The tikka masala (paneer or tofu) is creamy but lighter than most versions, because it doesn’t come in a tub of gravy. Make it “Punjabi by Nature” for a topping of saag (pureed spinach with spices). Of the two “Hella’ Vegan” options go with the Samosa & Tofu, but get it as a burrito bowl to help the pastry stay crispy. An entire potato and pea samosa is smashed with cubes of tofu, then dressed with a grassy cilantro chutney. Spice levels for everything are medium-low, but if you feel like crying, ask for a container of ghost pepper hot sauce.

Curry Up Now: 659 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (map); 415-735-3667;curryupnow.com

[Photograph: Tory Putnam]

Curry Up Now Burrito Bowl
Curry Up Now Burrito Bowl

The burrito bowls at Curry Up Now are designated gluten-free and come with a rice tortilla that’s crunchy and nutty after baking in the pizza oven. (The restaurant was formerly a pizzeria.) Use the tortilla as a scoop for the chickpeas, raw white onions, touch of pico, and yellow pulao rice that come with all burritos. You can also request a regular flour tortilla, made by La Palma.

[Photograph: Tory Putnam]

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

Tortilla: Vegetarian
Beans: Vegetarian
Rice: Vegetarian

Though it shares the same owners and menu as nearby El Toro, I’m partial to Pancho Villa for three reasons: double-sided salsa bar that prevents traffic jams, lofty and clean seating area, and bigger Grilled Veggie Burrito ($5.95 regular, $7.45 super). Naysayers who snub this mini-chain as too yuppified are missing out on summer squash, bell peppers, sliced potatoes, and broccoli florets consorting with one of the most vibrant pico de gallos in the Mission. It sizzles with jalapenos, but a mild option is available. Warm chips come with every order, compelling you to visit the salsa bar to load up on limes, pickled jalapenos, radishes and eight distinct salsas. (Some days may feature less.) If you’re lucky, you’ll get to veg out to the trumpeting of the mariachi band that often drops by.

Pancho Villa: 3071 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (map); 415-864-8840; sfpanchovilla.com

[Photograph: Tory Putnam]

Taqueria Vallarta
Taqueria Vallarta

Tortilla: Vegetarian
Beans: Refried contain lard; whole black and pinto are vegetarian
Rice: Chicken stock

La Vallarta offers seven different burritos ($6.25 regular, $7.55 super) that are boldly labeled “vegetarian.” There’s just one problem – the rice contains chicken stock. Still, each one crams an assortment of sautéed-to-order veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, crinkle-cut carrots, and summer squash. Chile flakes cling to them all and a confetti of cilantro keeps things feeling traditional despite names like “Manhattan” and “Stir Fry Blend.”

Taqueria Vallarta: 3039 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (map); 415-826-8116

[Photograph: Tory Putnam]