El Pelón Burritos Are Fourth Best in US According to FiveThirtyEight

By Shannon McMahon, Boston Globe

We have BolocoAnna’s Taqueria and El Pelón. It’s pretty clear Bostonians love their Mexican food. But how does the quality of a Boston burrito stack up against the likes of Southern California taco shops or Texas cantinas?

Thanks to statistician Nate Silver, there’s data on that now.

According to Silver’s website and blog FiveThirtyEight.com, there are 67,391 restaurants in the United States that serve a burrito. In Silver’s ongoing quest to find the country’s best one, the El Pelón Taquería burrito has been named number four.

The Fenway restaurant landed a top five spot behind one Las Vegas and two California burrito joints. At number four, El Pelón is immediately followed by thirteen California-based restaurants.

Silver’s search for ‘numero uno’ entails a lengthy analysis. FiveThirtyEight first gathered Yelp scores and created a country-wide “Burrito Selection Committee’’ to scout restaurants and vote on burritos. The committee’s “burrito experts’’ narrow it down to 16 contenders per region, making a 64-restaurant bracket.

After the bracket was created, one lucky journalist – Hispanic-American culture expert Anna Barry-Jester – was assigned to taste each competing burrito, then rank and document them. “Value Over Replacement Burrito,’’ or “VORBs’’ are the units used to rank each burrito. A VORB is given to the burritos a taster favors over competitors and is based on Yelp reviews.

Once all is said and done, each is ranked by the amount of VORBs it receives, and the rest is delicious history.

Silver said on his website: “This project involves a mix of seriousness and whimsy. Anna and I both have a lifelong obsession with Mexican-American food. We also know that burritos are not a matter of great national importance.’’