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Special Request: Mission Taco Joint starts South Beach Burrito with a chipotle marinade

Special Request: Mission Taco Joint starts South Beach Burrito with a chipotle marinade

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Mission Taco marinade

At Mission Taco, the chipotle chicken marinade is not served in a glass, as it is shown here, but it is used to marinate chicken (seen right rear) before it is chopped and used in menu items such as the South Beach burrito (left). Photo by Hillary Levin,

Q • Get us that marinade recipe for the South Beach Burrito! — Bill Burge, St. Louis

A • We got it, Bill Burge, and just in time for grilling season. This marinade imparts a smoky, sweet, mellow and slightly spicy flavor to the chicken Mission Taco Joint uses in its South Beach burrito and in its chicken street tacos.

“We wanted the chipotle flavor to profile the chicken,” chef and co-owner Jason Tilford says. Chipotles are smoke-dried ripe jalapeno peppers. When fully ripened, jalapenos change from vibrant green to a bright red. Once smoked, the peppers appear brown, wrinkled and ridged.

Chipotles provide a piquancy to dishes that isn’t sharp and intense, but well-rounded and flavorful with a little heat and a nice slow fade. This recipe uses chipotles packed in adobo, a tangy, slightly sweet purée of tomatoes, vinegar, garlic and spices, which gives the marinade its gorgeous color.

Mission Taco Joint uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs, marinated for a full day, then grilled over a wood fire. “Skinless chicken thighs take the marinade well, they’re easy to grill, plus the meat remains moist and flavorful,” Tilford says. The smoke of the wood fire adds to the flavor as well. “More home cooks today use wood grills, but adding wood chips to a charcoal will give some of the smoke flavor.”

See the recipe HERE.

Tilford gladly shared not only the marinade, but also how to construct a home version of South Beach burritos, which is detailed at the end of the marinade recipe. “Even though we make everything in the burrito in-house, people can buy some things, like the 12-inch tortillas, and make others to come pretty close,” he says. Generosity to community, staff and guests, in addition to genuine hospitality, are hallmarks of the Mission Taco restaurants.

When Jason Tilford and his brother, Adam Tilford, opened the first Mission Taco Joint in 2013 in the Delmar Loop, they wanted to share their love of the California street food and showcase the fun of the free-wheeling, skateboard and surf culture they grew up with in California. At Mission Taco, everything is made from scratch, even the tortillas, which accounts for the full, fresh flavors of their food. Colorful murals at each location by different artists illustrate aspects of the Baja street culture of their youth.

The mural in the CWE Mission Taco Joint by Peat Wollaeger features two luchadores, Mexican freestyle wrestlers famous for colorful masks and for high-flying moves. “That’s me on the left,” Tilford says, pointing to the mural. “My brother Adam is on the right. We went to Webster Groves High School with Peat.”

We asked Jason Tilford what he would recommend to first-time guests at Mission. “That’s like asking ‘who’s your favorite child?’” he says. “Try the margaritas. We make them with fresh lime juice, plus we use a high-quality tequila that’s not bitter, but smooth. Our salsas, red and green, and chips. Street corn, off the cob. The carne asada fries. Empanadas. For tacos — barbecued duck, spicy chorizo and our grilled portabello. Finish with churros. It’s our only dessert.”

“I was 8 or 10 when I had my first churros. We lived in San Diego, and we went to Tijuana for lunch. Coming back, there was a long line of cars waiting to cross the border. Vendors walked by the cars, including women carrying baskets of churros with that sweet smell of cinnamon. Those churros bought our parents a little quiet time from the when-are-we-going-to-get-there whining. The perfect dessert.”

Mission Taco Joint

Central West End: 398 North Euclid Avenue

Delmar Loop: 6235 Delmar Boulevard

Soulard: 908 Lafayette Avenue

Streets of St. Charles: 1650 Beale Street

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