West Regional Match 1: Don Carlos v. Robertos

Another hard fought match, as Roberto’s edged out Don Carlos 32-28 in a battle of carne asada burritos. Both establishments served edible food, but the difference came down to Roberto’s superior atmosphere and value.

Don Carlos (La Jolla)

Overall Taste (17/25 points)

The first bite burned my tongue, as the burrito was too hot to be served.  Once the burrito cooled down, I was able to enjoy fully seasoned carne asada.  Unfortunately, it may have been a bit too seasoned, as the carne asada was so peppery, I watched and felt small, yet firm drops of sweat drip off my forehead into the napkin on my lap.  The guacamole was not great, but at least had some flavor.  Not bad.

Atmosphere (3/5 points)

Don Carlos is located on Pearl Street in La Jolla.  It is not right on top of the ocean, but when sitting on the outdoor patio, you get an “ocean peak.”  The interior and kitchen are both dirty, but two recycling bins (one for aluminum, and one for glass), are a nice touch and speak to the character of the management.  The service was exceptional with the cashier bringing my burrito to my table on the outdoor patio.  Here’s the problem: my description makes the atmosphere seem more fun than it really is.

Hot Sauce (4/5 points)

Finally, a quality hot sauce.  It not only comes in a squeeze bottle, but has a nice roasted flavor.  The sauce is spicy, but not too much so.

Freshness (2/5 points)

The guacamole is almost certainly not fresh, but at least has clumps of avocado in it.  The tomatoes did not look great.

Presentation (1/5 points)

The burrito was small and scrawny.  The tortilla crusty, and flaky.  Wrapped in foil and some thin yellow paper, the burrito tasted better than it looked.

Value (1/5 points)

Big dissapointment.  The carne asada burrito burned a serious hole in my wallet, setting me back $5.45. Unaceptable for such a small burrito.

Roberto’s (Del Mar)

Overall Taste (17/25 points)

The carne asada was not as flavorful as at Don Carlos, but did not suffer from an overload on pepper.  The guacamole was okay-probably a bit tastier than at the Don.  Solid, not stupendous.

Atmosphere (5/5 points)

The atmosphere at Roberto’s cannot be beat.  Seating is on a large, clean, outdoor patio overlooking a lagoon that filters into the nearby Pacific Ocean.  The smell of the sea salt permeates into the air, and combined with the presence of a beachy clientele, Roberto’s takes on a nice Southern California surfer vibe. The restaurant is busy, but run efficiently.  No complaints, and a great place to take in a quick bite on the way to the beach.

Hot Sauce (3/5 points)

Roberto’s is home to two styles of hot sauce: rojo y verde.  The red sauce is a bit watery, but still contains a kick and a little bit of flavor.  The salsa verde is the same way.  No squeeze bottles 😦

Presentation (2/5 points)

As seen at Don Carlos, the burrito was on the smaller side, and overly crusty.  A nice touch was the custom made Roberto’s place mat that is placed on every tray.

Freshness (2/5 points)

Nothing memorable to report on the freshness front.  Nothing stood out as being super fresh, but it was not terrible.

Value (3/5 points)

$4.60 for a carne asada burrito is somewhat standard.  The burrito could have been larger though.

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