For over a year, I've sampled nearly every taco shop in the area. But after driving around in Rancho San Diego last week, I realize there was one that I hadn't tried: Hilberto's Mexican Food, located at 2648 Jamacha Rd.
Tucked into the corner of a shopping plaza, it's one of those places that you don't really know is there – unless, of course, you frequent it often. And given the amount of people there when I visited, it's obvious that the word is out.
As with every burrito joint, the first visit always neccesitates the baseline for comparison: The California Burrito ($4.75). We'll break down the ingredients:
A job well done. The tortilla was very soft and flavorful, but still had a good texture and fresh-tasting flavor. A fine edible wrapper.
Unlike some other Californias, Hilberto's uses chunk potatoes instead of actual French fries. I tend to prefer the fries, as I think it's the best representation of the Cali. But, on the bright side, the potatoes were cut into relatively small chunks, making them easy to eat, and not at all invasive.
Very flavorful, juicy and salty. I found the burrito a touch on the small side, and maybe a reflection on that size was the amount of carne in the burrito. It was not "skimpy" by any stretch. Maybe we should call the amount of meat... "limited." One other nice touch, the carne was chopped into small uniform cubes. It wasn't cut into strips or even rough chopped. This does nothing for the flavor, but it does say that the cooks take more time in preparation. It shows they care.
Pico de Gallo
The pico de gallo tasted pretty fresh. The tomatoes and cilantro popped pretty well as a contrasting flavor. My only hangup was the the pico got a little too warm due to the meat and potatoes. By the end, I was pretty much over it.
One of the superstar ingredients in this burrito was the cheese. One of my biggest pet peeves is a burrito with cold, hard, unmelted cheese. The cheese was melted beautifully in this burrito and was my favorite element of the dish.
It was a great first trip to Hilberto's and one that I'll repeat again soon. Again, the size of the burrito and the fact that there were potato chunks instead of fries makes me dock a few points, but it was still very enjoyable. Then again, maybe the burrito was small because I was hungry.
Rating: (4.5 out of 5)