Saturday, March 29, 2008

Carne Asada Burritos

Our neighbor across the street gave us some intel on a taco shop down Kam Highway that she said was really good. Since she's a fellow San Diego native, I took that as a high-compliment for a taco shop and went to check it out for lunch.

I walked in the door to Diego's Taco Shop, and...
[Cue sound effect: Angels singing Hallelujah Chorus.]

I felt like I had been instantly teleported thousands of miles across the ocean to San Diego.

Anyone who has lived in Southern California and developed and appreciation for the hole-in-the-wall taco shops you find on every street corner. Around San Diego, they come in every variety of _____-berto's. There's Roberto's, Adalberto's, Umberto's, Yourberto's, Myberto's, Wouldn'tchyaliketobeaberto's-too... It's hard to tell one from another.

Without even tasting the food, I felt right at home in Diego's, because the decor precisely matched the standard San Diego taco shop. The strip-mall store-front... The painted cinder-block walls... The pressed-wood, formica veneer, curved bench seating... The white plastic menu board with the individual black plastic letters pushed into the slots... The little clear-plastic cups with lids that contained the toxic-waste-sludge-style hot sauce in both the green and the red varieties... Things like "carne asada" and "horchata" on the menu... One person at a simple cash register taking orders and writing them on a slip of paper at the counter, then handing them through the window to the short-order cook at the grill in the back... Your order handed to you in a brown paper bag with your food and some paper napkins inside.

I had a carne asada burrito, and [cue sound effect again: Angels singing Hallelujah chorus] it... was... awesome! Their version is slightly different than in San Diego, but I just asked them to hold the sour cream and add the guacamole and it was perfect.

Flashback to when I first left San Diego and moved to the east coast, I went through some serious withdrawal symptoms (even more so than for the Henry Weinhard's). I seriously craved carne asada burritos and could find none. One of my parental units forwarded me a newspaper article a long time ago that said some types of chilis used in cooking Mexican food really ARE addicting, so it was understandable that I was having such cravings.

My mom gave me a real treat just before I left on my first deployment. She packed up a Roberto's carne asada burrito in a box with some dry ice and shipped it to me overnight.

As a department head on a boat out of San Diego, we had a standing order from the Captain: If anybody went off base for lunch to Santana's or Adalberto's (the two closest taco shops on Rosecrans) , they weren't allowed to return to the ship unless they brought the Captain a carne asada burrito. While we were on deployment, if you looked at our JMCIS / GCCS-M screen (geographic display of where you are in the world), we always had a waypoint saved for Santana's that kept us up to date on how many miles we were from home. During our transit home from deployment, we had a posted countdown of miles-to-go to carne asada burritos.

Anyway, done with the flashback and returning to the present.

For anyone else from socal living in or just visiting Oahu, if you want your carne asada burrito fix, go to Diego's!

Update 8/21/2008: While I do love carne asada burritos, at some point I decided to branch out and try something new. The rolled tacos at Diego's are also really good, and my new favorite is the carnitas burrito with guacamole.


C said...

Mmmm... Mexican food. Your posts about food always make me hungry.

amy said...

okay, that was so not there when we were in HI. isn't that the little strip that has leonard's malasadas? mmmm....i miss HI. thanks for the comment on craig's blog. i'm sure he'll enjoy the encouragement and get a few laughs from memories of fresh produce shortage, esp. being a chop. he's a fellow submariner, in case you didn't know. anyway, enjoy that mexican food. have you been up to the north shore for fish tacos? i'm sure you have. i can't even remember the name. it'll come to me in the night, i'm sure.