I was in San Diego recently to conduct further research on my book on the history of Mexican food in the United States (out May 2012!) and to try to figure out two mysteries: How did the phenomenon of the -berto's-suffixed restaurants (Alberto's, Alerto's, Filiberto's, Roberto's, etc.) truly begin? And who invented the French fry-stuffed California burrito, San Diego's greatest contribution to Mexican food in the United States (remember that Ralph Rubio and his fish-taco imitators
stole were inspired by Baja California stall owners)?
I found out the answer to the former, and I'm still trying to figure out the latter. But in the course of my research, more than a few of the -berto's owners said they know what San Diego's next great burrito will be: the 2-in-1 burrito, originally offered by Lolita's Taco Shop. Two taquitos inside a burrito. DAMN . . .
Historically, San Diego has been a burrito and taquito haven due to its proximity to the Mexican state of Sonora, where the burrito was born, as well as–more than likely–the taquito (contrary to popular belief, the city's legendary El Indio did not invent the taquito). It's actually amazing no one bothered combining the two until recently–Lolita's didn't put it on its menu until about a decade ago (the California burrito dates back to around the 1980s, that much I know)–and it still hasn't ventured much outside San Diego.
And the taste? Properly cooked flour tortilla, with freshly cooked rice, beans and your choice of meat enveloping two just-fried taquitos. Mushy, crunchy, savory and throwing your umami levels into the red zone. How many years until Chipotle
steals gets inspired by the 2-in-1?