North Regional Final: Filliberto’s (3) v. Mexico Viejo (6)

Let me be honest.  I had completely discounted Mexico Viejo’s chances of defeating Filliberto’s.  In fact, I had already delved into deep internal debate regarding how well Filliberto’s would match up against Santana’s in the final 4.  Well, guess what? Mexico Viejo, which had a very average performance in round 1, was anything but average in round 2.  In the battle of carnitas burritos, Mexico Viejo upset Filliberto’s 40.5-23.5.

***Note: I know some of you will have trouble believing the result.  All I can do is ask you to try the carnitas burritos at both establishments.  Anybody with a tongue should be able to taste the difference.

Mexico Viejo (Encinitas)



Overall Taste (24/25 Points)

This carnitas burrito was one of the best I have ever had.  The tortilla was warm, soft, and light.  Juicy, seasoned, and cooked the perfection, the carnitas was masterful.  Perhaps most impressive was the care Mexico Viejo took to ensure the ingredients were presented in the proper proportion.  The guacamole, carnitas, tomatoes, onions, and tortilla all complimented each other nicely, without any of the individual flavors being too prominent.

Service/Atmosphere (3.5/5 Points)

Previously I awarded Mexico Viejo 1.5 points for service/atmosphere, writing:

Mexican Viejo is located in a small shopping center next to Brett’s BBQ (pretty decent for SD BBQ), and a Dairy Queen.  It is a large establishment, and while not spotless, cannot be considered dirty by taco shop standards.  While it was disappointing that there was no outdoor seating, the real problem is the place has no charm about it.  Too big, not enough energy.

This time, I was more impressed.  The eatery was buzzing, yet somehow, within 2 minutes of ordering, my burrito was ready for consumption.

Quality of the Hot Sauce (1/5 Points)

My previous opinion still holds:

Like Aiberto’s, Mexican Viejo displays an offering of 3 different types of salsas at a bar with pickled carrots, cucumbers, and spicy peppers.  There were 2 red sauces, and 1 salsa verde.  The hotter version of the red sauce tasted less like salsa and more like tomato sauce.  The  mild version was nothing more than an extremely watered down version of the hotter sauce.  The salsa verde was spicy, but contained a higher proportion of H20 than the human body.  It’s aftertaste was bizarre, and not in a good way.

Presentation (4/5 Points)

It is hard to do too much with burrito presentation, but Mexico Viejo pulled through.  Their burrito looked nearly as good as it tasted.


Freshness (4/5 Points)

The carnitas was very lean, and clearly not canned.  The guacamole may or may not have been homemade, but at the least was a quality, pre-packaged brand.  The onions were fresh.

Value (4/5 Points)

$4.19 for a very large, and very tasty burrito is certainly decent bang for your buck.

Filliberto’s (Encinitas)


Overall Taste (10/25 Points)

After tasting such a fantastic burrito at Mexico Viejo, me and my fellow eaters were in great moods as we walked into Filliberto’s.  Unfortunately, the jubilation did not last long.  Two bites into our burrito, the mood at the table turned somber.  The carnitas pieces were hard and burnt.  Additionally, the meat was overly fatty.  The tortilla too was overcooked, and the guacamole poor.  Onion played too prominent of a role in the flavor.

Service/Atmosphere (3/5 Points)

Before I paste what I previously wrote, I would like to mention something I overlooked.  The tinted windows make the shop very uninviting.


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 (3.5/5 Points)

Last time, I raved about the hot sauce.  This time, the sauce was more watery, and contained less flavor.  Still good, just not exceptional.

Presentation (2/5 Points)

The onion chunks were way too big (hence the overly strong onion flavor).  The tortilla did not appear soft, instead looking a bit stale.  I did appreciate the customized paper used to wrap the burrito.


Freshness (1/5 Points)

The meat was terrible.  The guacamole was not fresh.  The tomatoes were not at all vibrant.  The only fresh ingredient was the previously mentioned onions.

Value (4/5 Points)

The pricing in this match was the closest I have ever had.  The differential in price (compared to Mexico Viejo) was only 1 cent: $4.20 before tax.


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