Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Math finally used for good in a statistical quest for America’s best burrito

After giving statistics nerds a happy little boner with their analysis of Bob Ross paintings, FiveThirtyEight is back with a project that should settle many a drunken argument: a methodical quest for America’s best burrito. The ambitious result is the Burrito Bracket, inspired by FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver’s typically thorough blog of the same name. But while Silver’s original quest was limited to Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, this time the Burrito Bracket has gone national. 


Based on geographic analysis of the 67,391 burrito joints (or, as Silver calls them, BSEs— “Burrito selling establishments”) currently listed on Yelp, Silver has divided the nation into four regions: The Northeast, which stretches from Maine to Missouri and includes Silver’s old stomping grounds in Chicago;  The South, including East Texas; The West, which includes Alaska and Hawaii but not California; and California, which gets its own category because of its intense love for both burritos and Yelp. Now the seeding is in the hands of four regional experts, who have combined Silver’s VORB (Value Over Replacement Burrito, inspired by the baseball statistic) with their own sage recommendations to produce a Savory Sixteen for each region.

Now the Bracket is in the hands of “decider” Anna Maria Barry-Jester, who has the enviable task of actually eating all 64 tortilla-wrapped contenders. Behold, your #1 seeds in the first round of the National Burrito Bracket:

El Farolito
2779 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA

The West:
2400 Central Ave. SE
Albuquerque, NM

The Northeast:
La Pasadita
1132 N Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL

The South:
Bell Street Burritos
1816 Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA

Will an obscure Las Vegas strip mall joint or a Houston food truck unseat venerable institutions with thousands of rave reviews? Can the underdog South wipe that smug smile off of California’s guacamole-covered face? Follow FiveThirtyEight’s ongoing Burrito Bracket coverage and find out.

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