Burrito King, Sunset Boulevard

Burrito King — Los Angeles Explorers Guild

Burrito King, Sunset Boulevard

When Los Angeles balladeer Warren Zevon recommends a burrito joint, you’d do well to pay attention.

Back in the day, I had an office across the street from this unassuming little restaurant with a cute, crowned burro mascot at the corner of Sunset & Alvarado. Often, when I was feeling peckish, I’d brave the traffic on Mohawk Bend and dash across the street for a quick bite. I’ve visited the place many times.

And so did quintessential Los Angeles balladeer Warren Zevon. One of his trips to Burrito King was featured in Wonderland, a 1977 documentary about the Los Angeles music scene produced by Dutch public broadcasting. In it, we see Zevon invite the film crew out for “some of the finest Mexican-American food in Southern California.”

Video of this visit floated around YouTube for a long time but was taken down a few years back. Only a short (34 second) clip remains.

But, if you’re determined to view the whole two-minute visit, the Wonderland documentary is streaming (at least for the time being) online. Zevon’s outing to Burrito King starts at the 6:06 mark.

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And if you’re curious, Mr. Zevon recommends the machaca burrito (which was only $1.25 in 1977). I can’t disagree.

Burrito King was started at this location by Julian Montoya in 1968. In its heyday, Montoya’s Burrito King empire consisted of 20 restaurants spanning California, Texas, and even Bogotá, Columbia. But now only the original at Sunset & Alvarado remains.

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The Other Burrito King

There used to be a sister Burrito King in Silver Lake on Hyperion Blvd, across the street from Trader Joe’s. In Sunset Express, the sixth Elvis Cole novel by Robert Crais, it was immortalized with the line:

“Two idiots armed with machetes robbed a Burrito King in Silverlake [sic] and hacked three people to death.”

Robert Crais, Sunset Express

This second location closed years ago (no word on whether the above fictional crime was to blame) and reopened as Mixto, a restaurant that sells, as the sign says, Better Latin Food.

[ Update: 4/29/21 ] About a month after this profile originally appeared, the last remaining Burrito King has been put up for lease with an initial buy-in (key money) of $120,000.

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Burrito King

Photo of Burrito King from the author’s collection.

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Tom Fassbender is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. When not exploring Los Angeles, he’s been known to enjoy a cup of coffee or two. You can find him at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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