The Tyranny of Choice: Which Tortilla Makes the Best Freebirds Burrito

Categories: On the Menu

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Freebirds World Burrito on Cayenne Tortilla
I love the selection of burrito fillings at Freebirds World Burrito. I love that there's white as well as red onions, three types of beans (black, refried, pinto) and a plethora of salsas. I enjoy mixing and matching and trying out new flavor combinations. Makes me feel like I'm cooking for myself rather than getting takeout.

"Way More Choices At Freebirds"? Works for me. Well, with one exception: the tortilla.

When asked if I want spinach, flour, cayenne or wheat, I get completely flummoxed. This is particularly awkward because selecting a tortilla (after naming your size burrito) is the second of many, many decisions you have to make in the construction of your burrito. I know my blank stare and stuttering speech this early in the process unnerves whatever staff member is serving me and I can tell they're already wary that I might be that irritating customer known as Ira Indecisive.

When I went through my "nothing but whole grains" stage, choosing a tortilla wasn't a problem. "Wheat!" I always answered swiftly. This phase came to an abrupt end after I came back from Europe with a renewed appreciation for white flour. So then I would change it up by sometimes ordering the flour tortilla and, if I felt like I hadn't fulfilled my daily vegetable quota, occasionally the spinach (purposefully ignoring the fact that its additional nutritional value is marginal). Most recently, I tried the cayenne tortilla, which, BTW, is actually fairly spicy, so consider adding some sour cream to balance the heat.

My uneasy conclusion after all this experimentation is that I pretty much like all the tortilla flavors. This equal affection (or indifference?), however, is what paralyzes me when it comes down to choosing a favorite for that particular Freebirds visit. Furthermore, because I usually do feel strongly about what meat I want, I become even more confused when I start to consider the best tortilla complement. Would flour with chicken be terribly bland? Is spinach and steak just wrong? Cayenne and carnitas: a match made in heaven or overkill on the seasoning?

I have neither the time nor the money nor the patience to taste-test every single different possible mixture of tortilla and burrito fillings. The combinations make me dizzy and if I've calculated correctly, there are 30,421,755. But I might have messed up some of the factorials; also, this number is assuming I only choose one type of lettuce, salsa, sauce, etc. Still, yikes.

Readers, any recommendations for terrific tortilla-and-filling combinations? Do you have any tried-and-true rules when it comes to pairing tortillas with certain meats?

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WestSideBob topcommenter

I'm in the "bowl" category ... no tortilla for me.  

For my sides, may I have:  a "turn the volume down a little on the music" and "cut the cloying "how's your day" banter while making my order".  I came here for a burrito, not a relationship.


@WestSideBob Having worked for Freebirds briefly during a mid-twenties unemployment crisis, I can't assure you that most of us do not want to have phony banter with the customers. I was constantly criticized by my superiors for not having enough banal conversation between asking customers if they wanted steak, chicken, or carnitas. After being written up for the last time for being 1 minute late for getting stuck at a train crossing (this included being criticized for "not taking [my] job seriously"), and only getting a max of 10-15 hours a week at minimum wage, I quit without a backup plan.


@WestSideBob @freenyona Yes, I've got me a "big girl" job now. Doing quite well. :) I just wanted to emphasize that Freebirds (at least the particular location I was at), based on my experience with management, was not the greatest "hip" place to work.

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