In the final match of round 1, Filiberto’s put up a solid performance defeating Kotija Jr. 29.5-24 in the battle of Carne Asada Chips. Filiberto’s, a heavyweight amongst North County coastal taco shops, looks poised to do some serious damage going forward, and is sure to benefit from a different menu item since the eatery is not exactly known for their nachos.
***Note: I apologize for the grainy photographs. My camera battery was on empty, and I was not able to find my charger. Photos were taken on a cellular phone.
Overall Taste (13/25 points)
The nachos were fine, but nothing special. The 2 types of cheese (one white, and one orange), were a nice touch, but the guacamole was mediocre and the chips were burnt. The carne asada was moist, but not entirely flavorful, and I am certain would have complimented a burrito much better than the nachos. The refried beans were notably tasty.
Service/Atmosphere (4/5 points)
Filiberto’s is your classic, somewhat grungy Southern California taco shop situated a short hop from the ocean. It contains a drive through, but more interesting, it maintains a unique method of delivering the food to the drive through customers. Rather than setting up a delivery window in the kitchen (think McDonalds), the delivery window is placed in a separate room in the seating area. An employee walks 0ut from behind the counter and into the “delivery room,” passing off the food to hungry customers waiting in their car. Bizarre, but cool.
Filiberto’s also contains a number of interesting wall decorations. For no apparent reason, dozens of pictures of babies line the wall near the service counter. Paintings of running horses, and other works of art adorn the other walls. These artworks look a little tacky, but nonetheless add further charm to the establishment.
Quality of the Hot Sauce (5/5 Points)
Things started off well when I saw the “squeeze tubes,” and only got better from there. The flavor of the hot sauce was fantastic, and the spice level perfect. No complaints.
Presentation (2/5 Points)
Predictably, the nachos arrived in a styrofoam tub. The cheese was not totally melted, and the abundance of sour cream made the nachos look a little too much like puke. Nonetheless, it is pretty difficult to make nachos look too bad.
Freshness (3/5 Points)
The guacamole was not homemade, but the fact that the chips were burnt suggest they might have been.
Value (2.5/5 Points)
Nachos tend to be one of the more expensive items at taco shops, so I was not too shocked when I was asked to pay $6.40 for my huge platter of chips. Still not a value though.
Kotija Jr. (Encinitas)
Overall Taste (10/25 Points)
There was little I liked about these nachos. The carne asada was tough and chewy. The guacamole was almost non-existent, but this might not have been such a bad thing because the little I was able to taste had a weird mealy flavor. Yuk.
Service/Atmosphere (3.5/5 Points)
Kotija Jr. is a massive restaurant with lots of different seating options. Customers can choose between indoor seating, street-side balcony seating, and two different covered patio options. In addition, there are both booths, and traditional chair seating to choose from. Like Filiberto’s, Kotija Jr. is located near the ocean, but unlike Filiberto’s is missing that extra little charm.
Quality of the Hot Sauce (4/5 Points)
The hot sauce came in a squeeze bottle, but not the type of squeeze bottle I have become accustomed to. Rather than being placed in a clear vessel, the hot sauce sat in a yellow bottle. At first I was concerned they had mistakenly given me mustard, but after one bight, my fears were relieved. The hot sauce was flavorful and had some spice…very nice.
Presentation (2/5 points)
Somebody call a doctor, because the salsas sitting out at the salsa bar (used for takeout customers) looked sick. The nachos themselves were not much better. They were topped by loads of cheese, but the cheese was unmelted. The carne asada looked about as good as it tasted, which is in no way a compliment.
Freshness (1/5 Points)
The meat tasted canned, the guacamole was not fresh, the cheese was of a poor grade, and the chips were not homemade.
Value (3.5/5 Points)
$5.50 for a reasonable sized platter of chips-not bad.