I need to stick to presenting reviews, because this prophetizing thing is not working out. Yesterday, I predicted Caliente(s) would be the first taco shop to cross the 40 point barrier. Today, Santana’s did it. In an amazing demonstration of all around strength, Santana’s defeated Cotixan 42-24 in a battle of California Burritos.
Santana’s (Pacific Beach)
Overall Taste (23/25 points)
This California burrito was one of the best I have ever tasted. The generously seasoned carne asada was perfectly grilled. The potatoes were nicely cooked and properly textured. The cheese was nicely melted, and the tortilla tasty. Because I still needed to visit Cotixan, I had only planned to consume half of the burrito, but it was so good I finished the entire helping.
Service/Atmosphere (4/5 points)
Santana’s is home to a clean, attractive interior. An open view of the kitchen reveals cleanly cooking conditions. Outdoor patio seating is available, but the view of the surrounding area is nothing special. The juke box and drive through are very nice touches.
Hot Sauce (5/5 points)
The salsa bar contains 5 unique salsas, some of which I have seen nowhere else. The five flavors were “original,” “ranchera,” “chilanga,” “tomatillo asado,” and something else that was unlabeled. All of the salsas were flavorful, and brought something unique to the meal, but my favorite was the green “ranchera” salsa.
Freshness (4/5 points)
Fresh carne asada. Fresh salsas. Not quite Chipotle level, but no complaints.
Presentation (2/5 points)
The burrito came wrapped in white paper and placed on a brown plastic tray. I was a big fan of the hefty stack of napkins placed on the tray by customer service.
Value (4/5 points)
$5.00 for a huge burrito made with high quality ingredients. Very solid value.
Overall Taste (10/24 Points)
My first bite revealed carne asada that was very tough. The beef was over seasoned in an attempt to mask its poor quality. Cheese was not only not melted, but cold. The potatoes were hard. Although the food was better than what I tried at Aiberto’s and Nico’s, this California burrito did not make me want to try their shrimp cocktail (yes, I actually saw someone order a shrimp coctail at Cotixan).
Service/Atmosphere (1.5/5 points)
The interior was neither clean nor dirty. Service was very quick, but the covered patio seating offered nothing more than an ever lovely view of Discount Tire, Pep Boys, and a very busy Genesee Avenue.
Hot Sauce (3.5/5 points)
Cotixan did not quite match the 5 quality salsas of Santana’s, but they did offer both a red and a green hot sauce. The red sauce provided a nice kick to the burrito, but the flavor was a bit too ketchupy. The salsa verde was quite refreshing.
Freshness (2/5 points)
I could not pinpoint any specific problems, but nothing tasted all that fresh except for the salsas.
Presentation (3.5/5 points)
The burrito was presented in a thick styrofoam tray placed on a larger green plastic tray. The hot sauces looked amazing, with the red sauce taking on a particularly interesting orangish-red glow. They were of course placed in the always nice squeeze tubes. The only major problem was the unmelted cheese made the burrito look pretty gross when cut open.
Value (3.5/5 points)
The $4.70 price was actually better than Santana’s, and all else equal, would have received a great value score. Unfortunately, this seems to be a classic case of “you get what you pay for,” as the ingredients were almost certainly not of high quality.