If you've been in San Diego long enough, or are an ex-pat San Diegan, all you need to do is mention the name of a taco shop that goes "Something" - berto's......be it 'Ai', 'Roi', or the one and only Roberto's, and the first thing that will come to mind will probably be a representation of the quintessential San Diego Taco Shop. Serving up stuff like California Burritos(carne asada & fries), Rolled Tacos(aka Taquitos), and the classic Carne Asada Burrito...or what Jay, proprietor of The Linkery, calls the 'CAB'. I guess it just shows the power of branding....you can just add whatever prefix you want(within reason - I don't think Rodent-O-Bertos would work real well, though the name Shigella-bertos has a ring to it), and suddenly you are a San Diego Taco Shop. Just looking at a list of current "Something" - berto's goes to prove my point....they range from rather tasty(Hamberto's anyone?), to something with a bit more action(Ramberto's), to places I may give thought to before entering(Rigoberto's). I can't think of anything else quite like this....I mean there is 97 Supermarket, which looks strangely similar to 99 Ranch Market, and perhaps a few other examples, but nothing to the extent of the berto's. I've personally tried to cook up a few similar schemes that have never panned out. I had the idea to hire a bunch of surly Chinese wait staff, buy as many "San Gabriel" sticky tables as I could, and bring in white paper-hatted Cooks with questionable hygienic habits, and open my Chinese BBQ, calling it Sam-my Woof BBQ, but that never panned out. I had the great idea(or maybe it was just brain freeze) of selling super tart fro-yo.....2 oz frozen yogurt, which you top, nay bury, with 6 ounces of various toppings (which you can buy in bulk from Henry's), and selling it for $8 a cup....calling it Pink-buried. But as with many of these bright ideas...it just never took off.
Which leads me to El Roberto's:
There I was minding my own business, in a strip mall on the corner of Murphy Canyon Road and Aero Drive, when I saw this sign:
Geez, I didn't know there was a Roberto's here.....my stomach started growling. As I walked up to the shop, the truth was revealed:
Hmmm, I didn't see an
L, um 'El' in front of Robertos on the large sign in the front of the restaurant. I got a chuckle out of that. Still, I decided, or my stomach decided, to grab a bite. The interior of El Roberto's is simple, but man is that counter built high.....
The menu listed a good 15 or so burritos........
I decided to order a Texas Burrito($4.10). A Texas Burrito, by San Diego Taco Shop standards is a Pollo Asado(chicken) and French Fry(yes, french fries) burrito, sometimes with Pico de Gallo(basically a tomato and onion condiment), and sometimes guacamole.
This was not a very good version of a Texas Burrito. The fries were fine, but finding any chicken in the burrito was an experience akin to finding "gold in them dere hills"...... What was worse was the very sour hot sauce....
But heck....something more than the "Something" - berto's name keeps this place in business, right?
3755 Murphy Canyon Rd.
San Diego, CA 92123
Have I told you about my latest project? It's a chain I'll call Cuy-potle, specializing in burritos featuring free-range, alfalfa fed, Cavia porcellus, humanely slaughtered. The burritos contain 1 ounce of Cuy meat, along with 16 ounces of various pseudo-Mexican sauces, rice, beans, and salsas..creating a boat-sized burrito that defies the term healthy eating! Hmmm, looks like I'll need some help with this one...maybe the team of wordsmith Elmo Monster and marketing genius Eatdrinknbmerry will come on board.....we'd be unbeatable!
The Battle of the Berto's:
So what about the Carne Asada Burrito at
L El-Roberto's, you may ask? Well, I did manage to try the CAB at El Roberto's...recently, the one and only Howie who does the excellent A Foodie Eye's View. Invited the Missus and I to what he called the Battle of the Bertos. We managed a tasting of 10 different Carne Asada Burritos, from random "Something" - berto's around San Diego. It was a fun and interesting time...though I don't think I'll be having another CAB for a while!
So to quote Howie; "Which Berto Reigns Supreme?" You'll just have to check out the results here. You can also vote on your personal favorite "Berto". In case you were wondering, the Missus(otherwise known as The Missusberto), and yours-truly-berto came up with almost the exact same results in our blind tasting.....
And to add even more "cred" to the project, the Arbiter, was a vegetarian! Who deserves major props for first, dealing with a group of "crazed carne asada Psychos". And secondly, for dealing with the "smell of grilled beef" permeating our very being......
And just in case you wanted to know what the post-bertos scene was like....this is the aftermath:
The Name Your (Faux)Berto Contest:
I've always poked fun at the proliferation of these "Something"-berto places. It is quite entertaining when driving to think up stuff like:
Vito-Bertos - "You better like our meatball burrito, or else...."
PETA-Bertos - At least you can be sure that the fur growing in your burrito didn't come from a living creature...I'm sure that would be comforting!
I'm also sure you're much more creative than I am, so come up with your best "Something" - berto's name and tagline, and/or menu item, and send it to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I'll pick my 3 favorite names, and I'll also forward the list to Howie, to pick his 3 favorites...and I'll send the winners a Peet's Ecup of coffee. One winner per IP address, and try to keep it clean, ok? I'll list the winners mid-week. The contest closes midnight on Sunday, 01/27/08...after all, I know you're all creative geniuses, with an unending flow of ideas....and my personal CPU can't deal with that!
So let's see what Faux-berto's you come up with.