Ortiz’s Taco Shop
San Diego, CA 92107
As the Chargers lost on Sunday, interim Mayor Todd Gloria had promised to send authentic Mexican food to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. As an aficionado of such cuisine, I was amazed to see the three restaurants Gloria selected: Ortiz’s Taco Shop in Point Loma, Lolita’s Taco Shop in Kearny Mesa and Mama Testa Taqueria in Hillcrest.
So I called two of my friends – Ro and Irene – and asked them if they would like to join me in reviewing these three restaurants – one at a time, of course.
Gloria selected Ortiz’s Taco shop for California burritos so we decided that would be the first place we reviewed. I “shop” in the small strip mall where it is located on Voltaire Street on a weekly basis. There’s the Pt. Loma Bagel shop, the Doughnut Shop on the corner, Pure Thai — which I recently reviewed — a pet store, and a tattoo parlor right with a handicapped parking space right out front. That pretty much sums up this shopping area.
The U-T described the California burritos as “ … a uniquely San Diego food filled with carne asada, cheese, salsa, guacamole and the magic ingredient: French fries.”
Since there were three of us, we decided to order other items so we could make comparisons. We started out with an order of pico de gallo and chips, but when Ro asked if we could have them before our meal we were told that the chips were not made until the order went through and it would be served at the same time as the order. She also ordered the carne asada fries and a bottle of Arrowhead water. Her total came to $11.25.
Irene decided that she wanted to have fish tacos and asked what kind of fish was used. She was told that “ . . . it is whatever box is opened because we don’t make them here.” One might be Pollack and the other might be Cod. She elected not to have the fish tacos and instead ordered the California Burrito and a can of Sprite. Her total was $7.25.
As I try to do with all of the reviews, I waited until both Ro and Irene told me what they thought of their meals. I can sum them up quickly because they both said the same thing – it might be good for gringos, but people that like Mexican food will be disappointed.
From the pico de gallo, there was little, if any, Mexican flavor to both the California burrito and the carne asada fries. Even liberal usage of the salsa being sprinkled on the food did not do much for the flavor. It is interesting to note that the green salsa – the mild one – was served in a large yellow squirt bottle similar to a bottle of mustard, while the hotter salsa was served in a red container like ketchup.
When it was my turn to try my California burrito I had to agree with my two friends. If I had been blind-folded and asked to guess what ethnic group the food belonged to I would be hard pressed to state Mexican. There was nothing Mexican tasting about any of what we had ordered. The best part of our meal was the chips, and they were crispy and good.
With all of the excellent Mexican restaurants in town, I am amazed that Gloria picked this one to “show off” our cuisine. With restaurants like Las Cuatro Milpas, El Indio, Carnitas Snack Shack and the vegetarian Rancho’s, I wonder where he grew up eating Mexican food! The only explanation I can come up with is that this is the “booby prize” – after all, having to send it means we lost the game, and he may want to discourage others from coming here to eat Mexican food.
I have two-thirds of a California burrito in my refrigerator, Mr. Mayor. You’re welcome to send it to Colorado – it’ll save you some money.