Mission-style burritos might be named after San Francisco, but let's face it: Between Chipotle and Qdoba, Colorado has put its own stamp on foil-wrapped behemoth burritos. And although those two chains are the most widely known outside of the state, the four metro locations of Illegal Pete's are local favorites, for very good reasons -- not the least of which is the fact that Illegal Pete's is vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.
The 16th Street Mall Illegal Pete's outpost (1530 16th Street) is always busy; it usually takes a bit of a hunt to find a table (although you'll have better luck in warm weather, thanks to the substantial patio), and often the line to build a burrito winds out the door. (You can circumvent that line with a new Illegal Pete's phone app that lets you order and pay before you even walk in the door.) This particular venue is also home to a full bar and stage that hosts intimate concerts, and the fact that Pete's is open until 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday makes it a very popular post-bar stop for the hungry masses in LoDo.
There are certainly plenty of options for carnivores, including an amazing beer-battered fish burrito, stuffed with shredded cabbage, white sauce, salsa frasca and lime, that pescetarians should definitely check out. For the vegetarian or vegan diner, Pete's has a basic bean-and-cheese burrito; a veggie burrito with grilled bell peppers and onions; the primavera burrito rolled with grilled zucchini, squash, red bell peppers and onion; and the popular-even-among-meat-eaters Big Potato burrito, served with cheese, salsa fresca and sour cream. The tortillas at Pete's are whole-wheat and all-natural, and gluten-free veggies can always order their tacos with corn tortillas.
The beauty of Colorado's Mission-style burritos -- including those at Illegal Pete's -- is the fact that they're made right in front of you, so that you can mix and match your order as you please. Pete's uses a big metal spoon to mix all the burrito ingredients together before they're rolled up in a tortilla, resulting in a uniform distribution of contents -- no just-rice or all-sour-cream bites in these burritos!
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You can order Illegal Pete's burritos in a bowl (with chips or a tortilla) as well, or "smothered" with either pork or vegetarian green chile. (There is no beef broth in Illegal Pete's vegetarian green chile -- we asked.)
To view the full menu, visit www.illegalpetes.com.