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Burritos like they have in San Diego

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My friend is from San Diego and he claims that burritos are a different breed down there. In San Diego, the standard burrito comes without rice and beans -- just meat, pico de gallo, and a few other ingredients. You can get rice and beans if you order them, but that is extra. It's a good burrito, no question. In LA, the normal burrito seems to have rice and beans. Perhaps this is a regional difference? Do you know places that make San Diego-style burritos? I know I could probably just order a burrito without rice and beans, but I suspect that they probably prepare the meat, etc. in a different way, too. My friend insists that San Diego-style burritos cannot be found in LA, but I struggle to believe that.

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  1. "In LA, the normal burrito seems to have rice and beans. Perhaps this is a regional difference?"

    No, you just have to know where to go. I would say that almost all of the *non-Americanized* Mexican joints in L.A. will have several burritos on the menu that don't come with rice and beans.

    What places have you tried so far? Where do you live?

    1. My favorite is Yuca's, in Los Feliz. Their burritos are actually square and somewhat flat, but it's just meat, onions and cilantro (and I think you can get cheese, not sure tho).

      1. A couple weeks ago, we had someone lamenting that a "Mission Style" burrito (WITH rice and beans) could not be found around here. Now this!

        I agree with Joe Blowe; you should have no trouble finding a burrito without rice and beans if you go to a taco house---or truck---that isn't a chain. Even some of the chains, like King Taco, serve burritos just as you've requested.

        1. I always order my burritos without rice and beans if I know they are included, and thus I am assured that I get the freshest product available, and one that satisfies my tastes.
          Use that logic at any fast food restaurant like ordering something without cheese or tomatoes, or whatever the ingredient that might offend - works every time - a freshly made item.

          1 Reply
          1. re: carter

            Uh, yeah, that's why I get my Taco Bell burrito supreme without onions! And why I always order my fries well done, although I actually prefer them that way.

            To keep it on topic, Campos (20th/Pico in Santa Monica) has an all-meat burrito option but I never get it because I prefer the hard shell turkey tacos and/or the avocado burrito which is full of beans but thankfully no rice. I don't really like rice in a burrito.

          2. I'm not a fan of rice or lettuce (yech!), etc., but I like a little bit of refried beans in my burritos. I think the creaminess of the beans is a nice foil to the meat and spice. In any event, the claim that "San Diego style" burritos cannot be found in LA is nonsense. Proximity to the boarder notwithstanding, I think the quality and variety (regional, etc.) of Mexican restaurants in LA is substantially better than in San Diego.

            1. Your buddy needs to look for a Roberto's/Alberto's/-erto's clone "taco shop" and you're correct in noting that not only are the beans and rice automatically left out, the meats are spiced and prepared differently, as are the salsa and the flour tortillas.

              L.A. proper, I'm not sure where to go. Benito's attempts to copy the formula, but fails. I know there's an Alberto's in the Lomita/Harbor City area, but it's pretty awful. I spotted another one down in Long Beach a little while ago, I think this is the address if you want to investigate:

              Alberto's Mexican Food
              1770 W Pacific Coast Hwy
              Long Beach, CA 90810

              Down in OC, Elmomonster did a review of Alerto's in Fountain Valley. It's exactly what you're looking for:

              According to the Roberto's website, there's one in Ontario: 765 Milliken Avenue, Suite #B Ontario, (909)948-8818

              Hope this helps. :-)

              1 Reply
              1. re: petradish

                Native San Diegan weighing in here on the burrito topic. The burrito the OPs friend was talking about is most likely carne asada. It is most commonly served as is with some guac and pico. Oh......and sometimes they add french fries at which point is becomes a "California" burrito.

                David Kahn is correct when he notes that San Diego lacks the diversity and quality of Mexican restaurants as in Los Angeles. This is mostly because for years San Diego was a "pass-thru" stop. Meaning that most immigrants just passed through San Diego on their way to L.A. or points east, and didn't put down roots or heritage in SD. That, of course, has been changing in the last decade or so. There are a number of growing good to very good Mexican restaurants in San Diego these days.

                Petradish is also correct about Roberto's. This is a family owned taqueria that's been around in SD for a long time and as the family has grown so have their outlets. They kind of pioneered carne asada burritos in San Diego. Though they now operate a central kitchen that produces a lot of their products, some stores are better than others. And, as the family has squabbled, other "berto" taquerias have beenopened up by family members. Alberto's, Rigoberto's, Aliberto's, Adalberto's, chances are good in San Diego that it's a owned and operated by someone in the extended family. I'm not sure, however, how safe it would be to assume that a taqueria ending in "berto" outside of SD would be run by the same family. It's certainly possible.

                Here's a link to a couple of recent discussions about carne asada burritos in San Diego. http://beta.chowhound.com/topics/show... and http://beta.chowhound.com/topics/show...
                It's a semi-regular topic on the CA board, which is why I'm willing to bet a CAB (carne asada burrito) that this is what the OPs friend was talking about :-)

              2. This thread is making me flash-back to my days in the dorms at UCSD - midnight runs with a bunch of us down to the Roberto's (or was it Albertos?) in Solana Beach. Carne Asada Burritos, rolled tacos oh and those Chorizo Burritos, OMG!)

                It's true those carne asada burritos in SD are really really good.

                Those were the days, those were the days...