Miguel Hernandez started working for his parents at El Tejaban Mexican Grill in Richfield when he was 15 years old. He learned a lot about the business during those teenage years. He had a lot of fun, made a few mistakes–and most importantly, he was allowed to grow. Miguel did everything from bussing tables to serving to bartending at El Tejaban over the years.
He also developed a keen sense of flavor that has formed the backbone for the Twin Cities’ best (and maybe only) LA-style breakfast burrito establishment: Lito’s Burritos. Housed in the El Tejaban space on Nicollet Avenue in Richfield, Lito’s is a separate business focused on breakfast only.
Only open since April, Lito’s origin story is a familiar one. The pandemic in 2020 changed everything. Miguel’s Dad, the head of El Tejaban’s kitchen, retired and Miguel quickly took over cooking. He started adding to the menu almost immediately (birria tacos, among others, were an early and popular addition during those early pandemic days). However, most of the menu stayed true to family recipes and the Hernandez family roots.
But Miguel was looking to do something different.
“I started making breakfast burritos and trying a few different things here and there,” said Miguel. “We hadn’t been open for breakfast or lunch since the pandemic started so I came up with a business plan and a menu and my mom trusted us. I managed the kitchen and my sister handled ‘front of house,’ developing a great coffee program.”
And it just took off. In fact, the day after a review in The Eater appeared, there was a line out the door and Miguel sold out of burritos.
The burritos are the star of the show, obviously. According to Miguel, the biggest hit is the “Breakfast Supreme”—which includes eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, onions, bell peppers, melted cheese and hash browns. Miguel says people in Minnesota just haven’t had that here before. The “LA Burrito” is another crowd favorite with fries, steak, guacamole, rice, beans, and melted queso blanco.
Another Lito’s touch that’s drawing rave reviews so far: The charred crispy cheddar cheese burned right onto the outside of the burrito. And it’s delicious. “You think it would be too much,” says Miguel. “But it’s actually well balanced. It gives the burrito a more robust flavor.”
What are Miguel’s favorite items on the menu?
“I actually don’t eat the big burritos most days because I usually have to work and I’d be taking a nap in 20 minutes if I ate those,” Miguel says with a smile. “But I love our Chilaquiles Bowl, which includes scrambled eggs and mild green salsa topped with sour cream, queso fresco and onions. That’s my go-to item most days.”
One of the key reasons Miguel started Lito’s Burritos is that he wanted to develop something for Chicanos—but something different.
“I was born in Los Angeles but came to Minnesota when I was 5,” says Miguel. “My whole family is in LA—I have 18 cousins there! A lot of our spirit at Lito’s is to do what seems right to us and hopefully other people enjoy it too.”
So far, so good. As far as we know, Lito’s may be the only place in the Twin Cities offering LA-style breakfast burritos.
“What’s different for us is we’re cracking eggs. Our food has cultural significance,” says Miguel. “I’m constantly thinking about our recipes and ingredients. For example, what bacon works best in our burritos? What should our salsas taste like? Those kinds of things.”
So far, the reactions from the Richfield community and beyond has been beyond Miguel’s wildest expectations.
“Some people have actually gotten emotional,” says Miguel. “One Google Review I read was from a person from South Central LA who said the food reminded him of home and how happy he was that we finally have it here.”
The feeling goes both ways as Miguel and his family are happy to be in the Richfield community, where they’ve run El Tejaban (and now Lito’s Burrito’s) for 16 years.
“We’re super proud to be a part of the Richfield community,” says Miguel. “Richfield had the first Latina mayor in the state [Maria Regan Gonzalez]. And there’s a huge Latino community here. We love just being a part of that.”
And what about that name?
“I’m a junior. ‘Lito’ means ‘little version’ in Spanish. My mom used to call me that—some days she still does!” says Miguel. “I like that the name has significance. I like that it is connected to my family.”
Family, obviously, is very important to Miguel. And as a Richfield family, we couldn’t be happier to have Miguel and the Hernandez family a part of our community.
Note: Lito’s Burritos is open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Find more at litos-burritos.com.