I’ve been looking forward to this burrito for a year.
If you followed the blog last year, you may recall that I was crestfallen at the confusion that exists in the Golden State over the term “California Burrito”. Evidently, a true California Burrito eludes the entire city of Los Angeles, evidenced by puzzled looks from my L.A. friends and furrowed brows of restaurant waiters. Instead, what I got was a sauce slathered, fork and knife, gut bomb which, although tasty, was hardly what I was looking for.
A trip to San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl and Christmas festivities came with one non negotiable certainty: a trip to Santana’s Mexican Grill for a true California Burrito. Lest you question the driving clarity of my purpose, no sooner had I thrown my bags into my sisters’ station wagon than I quickly barked out orders to head straight to Santana’s from the airport. It was to be my first stop off the plane, and I had shunned breakfast that morning in preparation.
Santana’s is a cheap Mexican staple in San Diego, and they have about 13 locations smattered throughout the less gentrified parts of town. They have recently rebranded themselves FreshMXNFood, perhaps in an attempt to strengthen their appeal among more health conscious consumers, but they aren’t fooling me and I’ll still refer to them as Santana’s for the body of this post.
I was originally turned on to Santana’s by my good friend and San Diego native Larry, who despite his love for the California burrito manages to stay in typical trim Southern California shape. Having lived in San Diego for the better part of 25 years, Larry has eaten his way through more than a fair share of these delights, and accordingly, his opinion draws a lot of water in my book. When I first visited San Diego a couple of years ago, I was immediately hooked on these greasy monsters, and they became a staple of my San Diego diet at all hours of the day. Like all great hand foods, these burritos reach their flavor zenith at about 3AM. I can even attest to the remarkable flight characteristics of a Santana’s Burrito (but you’ll have to email me for that story).
After giddily ordering up my burrito from the menu, I raided the salsa bar during an agonizing two minute wait. Fortunately for readers, my resolve for picture taking slightly overwhelmed my rumbling stomach and I had a few fleeting moments to snap a couple of photos before digging in like a rabid hyena. The final product is hefty enough to give your rolled up Sunday newspaper a run for its money, and it doesn’t take a food critic to point out the enduring combination of steak, cheese and potatoes wrapped into a tortilla. Every bite is a gooey, meaty delight offset with the crispy saltiness of fresh cooked french fries. Add in a few generous dollops of the various salsas for some heat, and my one pound California Burrito was quickly devoured.
Thanks to my sister Becca for bringing me here straight off the plane, and I was certainly a proud older brother when she crushed her own Cali Burrito in record time…
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