Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 12:21AM
*Post by Mark.
After the fish tacos, the next San Diego staple of foodie-lore was the San Diego-style burrito. Seemingly a contentious issue amongst locals, their burritos are made the "proper way," unlike some other *cough* *Chipotle* *cough* places that have set up shop in town. While most Americans are familiar with burritos that are served with beans and rice, the San Diego purists will tell you that's just not how it's done. After having tried a Classic Carne Asada Burrito from Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop in Mission Hills, I'm not ready to burn Chipotle to the ground, but I do think these crazy Southern Californians are onto something...
Plus, they could throw a stone and pretty much hit Mexico... so they probably know what they're talking about.
Lucha Libre is a funny sort of place. Located at arguably the most difficult place to park... in the world, it still finds itself slamming busy at 2 o'clock on a Thursday afternoon in February. It's on the wrong side of a busy street, on a steep hill near a busy intersection. To parallel park out front would actually appear the ultimate death trap.
When I walk inside there's not an open table to be found. Of course, there is the gold-trimmed Champions Table, but I'm not sure I'm up to the challenges that may present themselves in the event that I take a seat in this 'reserved' section.
Lucha Libre takes their high-flying, Mexican-Wrestling-Mask-Wearing motif to pretty extensive levels. The wrestling masks, tights and even shoes are on display everywhere amidst photos of the sport's greatest heros. An old movie plays on loop where the famous old-time luchadore El Santo lays the smack down on some deserving criminals. But it's not all for gimmick. As much as the culture is celebrated, even more so is the food.
This is where we get back to the San Diego stance on burritos. At Chipotle, you get yours made with beans and rice on the inside, right? Not the case south of Los Angeles. Here, you can still get your rice and beans, but you get it as a side. My Carne Asade burrito was made with the three simple ingredients of marinated steak, pico de gallo and guacamole. Ya know what? I didn't miss my rice or my beans one tiny bit! Boiled down to the bare minimum components, my burrito actually stood out thanks to the quality and marinade of the fresh beef and the really fantastic and creamy guacamole.
Carne Asada burrito
The other major difference between the burritos down here and other places? The tortilla isn't steamed, so you don't get that water-logged effect or the puddle that typically forms in the bottom of your wrap. Instead, it's lightly toasted. Also, you can forget the aluminum foil. This inexpensive lunch actually needed no foil to protect me from any inopportune leakage.
I was very, very enthused about my burrito. I'm not gonna say it was better than other burrito styles, just a really great kind of different. It's like comparing New York and Chicago style pizza. Can't I just have both?