East Regional Final: Juanita’s (13) v. Mucho Gusto (12)

Coming off strong wins against much higher ranked opponents in round 1, both competitors were eager to prove their first round performances were no fluke.  Mucho Gusto did just that, while Juanita’s struggled to such an extent, I am no longer able to recommend it for anything except it’s beef tacos (round 1 menu item).  The final score was Mucho Gusto: 38, Juanita’s: 14, in a battle of chicken burritos.

Juanita’s (Encinitas)


Overall Taste (5/25 Points)

At Juanita’s, I was served what may very well be my worst chicken burrito of all time.  The chicken was soaked in grease, yet somehow completely dry.  The tortilla was rubbery and undercooked.  The other ingredients were…well, there were no other ingredients; just chicken and tortilla.  Compounding matters were the hot spots in the burrito, suggesting the employment of a microwave in the cooking process.  I carried a nauseous feeling with me the rest of the day.

Service/Atmosphere (1/5 Points)

 My opinion of the atmosphere is unchanged.  Previously I wrote:

“Juanita’s is small, dirty, and loud.  The indoor seating is disgusting, and the outdoor seating is subpar, basically located on the very busy, and very loud 101.  Juanita’s looks and feels like a shack.  The bars on the windows give the joint a sketchy feel.”

Quality of the Hot Sauce (1/5 Points)

Again, the hot sauce tasted watery, providing a little kick, but not much flavor.

Presentation (2/5 Points)

The burrito was too greasy, and the chicken too stringy.  Juanita’s brought back their sturdy white plate, but this time the entree was too hideous for the plate to hide.


Freshness (1/5 Point)

The chicken was of an incredibly low grade.  Reminded me a bit of those “other chickens” in the Foster Farms commercials.

Value (4/5 Points)

$3.25 for a burrito is not bad, especially compared to the prices at Much Gusto (read below).  Gets docked a point just because the burrito was so bad.

Mucho Gusto (Del Mar/Carmel Valley)


Overall Taste (20/25 Points)

Again Mucho Gusto excelled in the food.  The burrito was made with tender, flavorful, all white-meat chicken.  The tortilla was soft and fluffy.  The fresh tomatoes tasted exactly that: fresh.  I was slightly disappointed by the guacamole which was under-salted, but overall, Mucho Gusto did a great job on their chicken burrito.

Service/Atmosphere (4/5 Points)

As previously written: “Ordering was a pleasent experience as the cashier was very friendly.  The clean establishment had a hand written menu that helped further develop the theme of a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.” 

Quality of the Hot Sauce (4/5 Points)

“The lovely salsa bar included 3 salsas, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, pickled carrots, and whole jalapenos.  The three salsas included: “salsa fresca”, “picosa”, and “verde mild.”  The salsa verde in particular was less watery than found at most eateries.  All of the salsas were refreshing, but not quite as flavorful as at Caliente(s) or Santana’s.”

Presentation (5/5 Points)

Presented in a nice basket on a bed of chips, the burrito looked fantastic.  The healthy looking chicken located on the interior of the tortilla caused my mouth to salivate prior to my digging in.


Freshness (5/5 Points)

I am not sure any taco shop is going to rival Mucho Gusto’s freshness.

Value (0/5 Points)

At $7.49 (before tax) for a simple burrito, Mucho Gusto again received no points for value.  Value seems destined to be Mucho Gusto’s downfall.


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