The Taco–Burrito Exchange Rate Is Out Of Control

3 tacos = 1 burrito, so why don’t they cost the same?

Image: Kyle Van Horn

Here’s something that happens to me literally every time I go to any fast-casual Mexican food joint in New York City. I think about getting three different tacos, a hearty amount of food that lets me taste a bunch of different stuff! And then I look at the burritos, which are roughly equivalent to three tacos and do some mental math. And always, unless I’m feeling luxurious, I end up getting the burrito. It’s very messed up. It’s because the pricing was done by a crazy person.

(A quick note before I go any further: I will be talking about the prices of Mexican food in New York City. I will not be talking about the quality of said food, which is generally serviceable. The point I want to make clear to you, my dear reader, is that I truly do not give any semblance of a shit about how “the only place to get good Mexican food is on the West Coast,” or something. That’s not what this is about.)

So, here’s what the ordering process looks like. I take a look at the tacos, which usually range in price from $3 to $4.50. I price them out. Let’s say that after tax, 3 tacos is about $12 (some places also offer a 3-taco combo option that’s maybe slightly cheaper). Then I look at the burrito options, which use many of the same fillings, but somehow only cost 8 or 9 dollars. What?????

The burrito-taco exchange rate in New York City is absolutely ludicrous. Why should 3 tacos, a portion that is, IMO, equal to one burrito, cost me 50% more? I could get two tacos for the price of a burrito, but in my experience, two tacos is not enough. I can put away three, easy. It sucks to get only two tacos and still be hungry, knowing that money could have been put towards a duty-fulfilling burrito instead.

You could argue that much of a burrito is low-cost ingredients like rice and beans, whereas a taco is mostly expensive proteins. But I’m literally not buying that. I’m always acquiescing to the burrito. Most of this is mental — it’s not the flat price I have a problem with as much as the gap in pricing. If a burrito cost as much as three tacos, I would not be talking about this at length. But unfortunately, we live in a society where a burrito costs significantly less than three tacos. Maybe they could make the tacos less expensive by putting less filling in them? Just a suggestion.

We need common-sense taco pricing reform in New York City. The movement starts now.