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Jul 5, 2006 05:50 PM

Maritza's Best Carne Asada? Was this a Joke?

Made a lunch run with some buddies from work on Friday to Maritza's. After reading numerous reviews on the board, touting it as the Best Carne Asada in San Diego, I had to make a trip. One word can describe my experience, Weak. A quality burrito should be round, like a beer can, not flat and limp, and it should be stuffed to the gills with goodness. The eight strip of meat I received in my burrito were tender, but lacked flavor, tasteless and tender are not a good combo. The Salsa was not the typical taqarilla style, although it has some heat it was watery B.S., it tasted exactly like Herdez Salsa Casera right out of the can. Side orders of beans and rice were equally disappointing, some flavorless mashed pintos, and steamed rice with celery. Very disappointing. The service was friendly and warm, but it did not make up for the food. In my opinion, and the others in my party, Maritza's doesn't even come close to breaking the top ten in San Diego. No return trip planned.


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  1. Dunno what to tell you Steve - as a long-time fan of Maritza's carne asada I find your comments to be rather, well, strange.

    On the other hand, I don't judge carne asada by the dimensions of the burrito either. For me, when I see a burrito that's round like a beer can, and stuffed to bursting, I think one thing and one thing only: there's some seriously crappy meat inside that burrito.

    Let's do a little math here - if you buy a burrito for $4, and it's gigantic and stuffed with meat, then that's basically telling you you're dealing with low quality meat. For a restaurant to sell 3/4 lb. of meat with toppings at that kind of price it has to be incredibly cheap stuff.

    Maritza's burrito isn't huge, agreed - but it's made with actual steak. Instead of tiny bits of gristly and chewy meat, there are large chunks of what is clearly steak. You can also taste that the meat has been cooked over open flame, and it's tender.

    The guacamole is also obviously made from mashed avocados, and is not bulked up with mayonnaise or sour cream.

    If you inspected the salsa, you would have seen that it is not Herdez out of the can, but is made up predominantly of chilies.

    The name "carne asada" means meat (carne) cooked on an asador, which is an open-flame grill. So by that measure alone, there are precious few taco shops in San Diego that serve authentic carne asada, Maritza's is one of two that I know about.

    But hey, different people like different things. For myself, I like the flavor of good grilled beef. I find typical taco shop carne adada to be greasy, salty, and gristly.

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      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. I was hoping for the traditional flavors of char grilled beef with undertones of citrus and cebolla. I even asked for a lime, which would have improved the flavor, but they had none. Different strokes for different folks.


          1. Not angry, and I believe I know what good carne asada is. I've grown up here in San Diego; I've lived and worked for over 3 years in Guadalajara and Monterey. I have not been to place that serves any scary light green liquid since my days at State (long ago). I guess I prefer a chili-based salsa as to a tomato based one. Also as far a taqarillas goes it was missing many of the key components:

            Horchata, Jimica, Tamirindo
            Hot Carrots
            Salsa Verde, Arbol, etc
            Cebolla (green onions)
            Grilled Jalapenos

            I know this post is about the Carne Asada, but my experience would have been much better with the key components included. As with many taqarillas in San Diego, can someone please make some decent beans? (Quatros Milpas excluded).

            Everyone in my lunch group agreed and my initial review was based on consensus.

            Cheers and enjoy the short week.

            4 Replies
            1. re: stevuchan

              Obviously tastes differ, and I don't think that Maritza's selles itself as a taqarilla.

              That being said, there's a couple of errors here. One is that their salsa isn't chili-based. If you run a fork through it and inspect the pieces you'll see that they are chilies and not tomatoes. Two, they certainly do have hot carrots available. I've eaten them many times.

              I'm not a fanboy, bear in mind - there are only certain things I will order from Maritza's, carne asada and carnitas are about it.

              1. re: Josh

                i tried Maritza's last week and it was pretty good. The meat was soft and flavorful, and everything just fit right. I was surprised how hidden this place was.

                How are the carnitas? I heard they only have it on Wednesdays.

                1. re: okk

                  Carnitas are only on Wednesdays, yes. I like them a lot. You get 3/4 of a pound (I weighed them) for $7, with lots of nice trimmings - though the trimmings are sufficient really for two to share.

                  If you want them, you typically need to call your order in because they run out.

                  It is pretty hidden - seems that their business is mostly made up of homes in the area. I only happened upon it because I was on my way to a friend's place who lived up there and was hungry.

              2. re: stevuchan

                Just curious - since you've spent time in Mexico, have you been to El Asadero on El Cajon Blvd? It's just west of 70th street, and is a Mexican butcher shop with a lunch counter. I've greatly enjoyed the carne asada, barbacoa, al pastor, and carnitas there, and the presence of Mexican day laborers makes me think it's pretty authentic. Plus they have all the accoutrements you missed at Maritza's - multiple salsas, radishes, grilled jalapenos, etc. They also have an asador that they cook the carne on, and I think the beans are pretty damn good.

                It's not pretty to look at, but the food is very tasty - or at least it was a year ago.

                I'd be curious to know if you find it to be authentically Mexican or not, based on your experience.