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Food & Drink

Is this $7.50 burrito the cheapest in California?

A half-eaten burrito with fillings visible, held in a hand over a checkered tablecloth.
Priced at $7.50, the burritos at La Casa de Maria in Oakland are the cheapest around, according to the restaurant’s owners. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

As inflation has permeated almost every aspect of life for Bay Area residents, one of the most drastic hits to locals’ wallets has come in the form of burrito prices.

Now, the father-son duo of Jaime and Adrian Norberto—owners of East Oakland’s La Casa de Maria is doing something about it. The barbacoa restaurant, located at 2706 98th Ave., recently docked the price of its regular burrito to $7.50. The burritos come with a choice of carne asada, chicken or al pastor—plus rice, beans, cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo—and are served with a side of chips and salsa.

“When it comes to pricing, we come from a restaurant background, which gives us an advantage over street vendors,” Adrian said, adding that inflated prices of ingredients have put a clamp on many in the food service industry. “It makes it even harder for small vendors or street vendors to go as far down as $7.50.”

Man with arms crossed stands in front of a food truck with fiery graphics.
Adrian Norberto owns La Casa de Maria in East Oakland with his father, Jaime. The father-son duo says they offer the cheapest burrito in the area. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

Jaime said he’s done research on the burrito market and believes that his are the lowest-priced—not just in the Bay Area but in the entire Western region.

“I’ve looked at prices in Nevada and Oregon,” he told The Standard Friday. “We are the cheapest burrito around.”

And word is spreading throughout the neighborhood.

Hector Vargas, who lives along 98th Avenue, said La Casa de Maria is slowly becoming more popular.

“When you get here during the lunch hours, it can get kinda crazy with the parking,” Vargas said. “People just know this is where you can get the ‘special,’ and it’s worth the price since it’s a good size.”

An open burrito with rice, beans, cheese, and sauce on foil.
A burrito is prepared at La Casa de Maria on Friday. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

This reporter remembers when Mexican restaurants, taco trucks and street vendors priced burritos around just under $10 in the mid-2000s with super burrito prices—which include the basic addition of sour cream and cheese—around $12.50.

In 2024, however, due to the ever-burgeoning price of meats, the price of burritos around the Bay Area is reaching unprecedented heights. The increase is due in part to a decline in cattle herds, the Wall Street Journal reported last year. U.S. beef production was on track to drop by more than 2 billion pounds in 2024—the largest decline since 1979—according to the report.

In San Francisco’s Mission District, Taqueria Cancun on 19th Street sells its regular burrito for $12, while its super version costs a dollar more and includes avocado. Down a few blocks, the legendary Taqueria El Farolito prices its regular burrito at $9.75, while the super burrito sits at $11.25 and also includes avocado.

Back in East Oakland, the Tacos Guadalajara truck on International Boulevard just off High Street is selling regular burritos for $12 a pop and super burritos for a whopping $21. A short drive away, the Tacos Sinaloa truck, a neighborhood staple at the corner of International and 22nd Avenue, sells burritos for $13 and super burritos for $20.

A person is making a burrito in a kitchen with various ingredients on display.
Maria de los Angeles, Adrian Norberto’s mother, prepares an order. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

Adrian said the current prices at Casa de Maria are a callback to the days when burritos were an affordable option for working-class people in the East Bay.

“We buy in bulk, so it is easier for us to take our prices down that low,” he said. “This price is really rare. One of those diamonds in the rough.”

For those with a bigger appetite, Casa de Maria offers a “mega” burrito priced at $18. The mega stretches well past a foot in length and over three inches in girth.

“People will come in and eat the whole thing in one sitting,” Adrian added.

When asked if they had any plans to launch an eating challenge for the new mega burrito, he said it all depends on whether it becomes popular.

“I mean, why not?” Adrian said. “We haven’t come across that kind of market here, but it is something we might consider to bring a little more excitement to the eating game.”

This isn’t the first time that the restaurant has offered a burrito for a price way below the neighboring competition.

Hands in black gloves roll a burrito on a white plate in a kitchen with ingredients nearby.
A worker rolls a burrito at La Casa de Maria on 98th Avenue in Oakland. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

Inspired by Subway’s $5 footlong sandwiches and Little Caesars’ $5 pizzas, the father-son duo sold burritos for just five bucks when they opened Casa de Maria at its first location in San Leandro in 2007.

“We kept the burritos at $5 for the longest because it was manageable for people,” Adrian said. “We want to keep it low because we know folks are on a budget, whether you’re rich or poor.”

The Standard tried to find similarly priced burritos around the Bay Area and found only one spot, El Palenque Taqueria in San Mateo where a burrito with rice, beans, meat, onions, cilantro and salsa costs $8. 

Both Adrian and Jaime said they don’t expect to raise their burrito prices anytime soon.

“Having it at $7.50 helps not just the community but the neighboring communities,” Adrian said. “You can’t beat this price anywhere.”