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I was in a Mexican restaurant with some co-workers recently and noticed that many of them ordered a "burrito." What's the difference between this and a tortilla? I thought that's what they were called.

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Funny trivia: "burrito" == "little donkey" –  Sobachatina Nov 5 '10 at 18:25
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burrito : tortilla :: sandwich : bread –  Jared Updike Nov 5 '10 at 22:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Depending on where you are, the word tortilla can mean a few different things. In Mexico it refers to a flatbread made of either wheat or corn and a few other ingredients. These flatbreads tend to come in standard sizes in the United States at least, one of which might be labeled the "burrito" size.

A burrito is one use for a tortilla. A burrito consists of a wheat flour tortilla wrapped around a filling. Often the filling might include beans, cooked meat, rice, and perhaps vegetables.

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It seems to me the more authentic the Mexican food the more likely you can order tortillas as you would any other side. –  Sobachatina Nov 5 '10 at 18:24
    
Oh. Well that's very interesting. –  James Slagel Nov 9 '10 at 13:55
    
Many mexican restaurants I have been to will give you some tortillas on the side when you order an entree (Arroz con Pollo, Fajitas, Carnitas, Carne Asada, etc.). This would be the equivalent to getting garlic toast with an American meal, or Naan with your Indian dish. –  JSM Jul 10 at 17:27

A burrito is usually wrapped in a (flour) tortilla. Tortilla is just the bread; burrito, taco, fajita, etc. is how you use it/what you put in it.

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Tortilla is flatbread, burrito is what you do with it.

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