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The Santana’s California Burrito « What We’re Eating – A Food & Recipe Blog
Amanda battles a Cali Burrito

The Santana’s California Burrito

a Santana's California Burrito Innards
Eater rating: 3.0 / 5  3

There are several Santana’s located around the San Diego area, we chose to visit the one closest to our home in Point Loma for lunch. Apparently Santana’s is the “home of the famous california burrito” and we both tried it on for size. California burritos are packed with carne asada, french fries, cheese, and, while some place add sour cream, at Santana’s they add fresh tomatoes. If what you’re looking for is a quicky fast food cali burrito, visit Santana’s, if you really want a good one, go somewhere else.

Amanda battles a Cali Burrito
Fear the Cali Burrito
A: So this was my first experience with the infamous california burrito…sadly
T: i didn’t think it was so bad. Maybe you just don’t like California burritos. As a person who eats them at least once a week,… wow. At least once a week. Listen to me. I don’t think I’ve ever said that out loud. I think I might have a problem.
A: you know the first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem. so, you’re well on your way, right?
T: yeah, but I’d like to hit that low point where I wake up in the hospital and can’t remember anything… until they tell me the stories of how I started stealing from my family to buy california burritos. Until I hit that low point, I’m going to go ahead and stay addicted.
A: wow. wow. i’m speechless…i think most likely you’re going to have a heart attack and end up in the hospital and have to turn your life around that way. Do we need to do an intervention???
T: no I could quit at any point. I just don’t want to.
A: harh…that’s what they all say. i’m not buying it. i’m going to have to meet you for lunch everyday and make sure your not eating these things any more!
T: shut up! I hate you! why are you always trying to control my life! You’re mom smells bad! Actually your mom smells fine. But don’t you mess with my california burritos, woman.
A: okay, okay… i’ll let you lead your life how you want to, but expect the “i told you so” when you end up in the hospital at age thirty with a clogged artery. 😛 God i hope that doesn’t happen.
T: yeah, in all seriousness… california burritos are no laughing matter. What you just witnessed was a dramatization. But it could happen to you if you don’t make the right choices today. Please, refrain from eating more than 2 california burritos a week.
A: 2 a week?!? if they all taste like Santana’s cali burritos, i wouldn’t be caught eating two a year. I really thought that their “carne asada” tasted worse than Taco Bell’s. seriously. it was bad. The whole thing was luke warm, the cheese didn’t even get a slight melt on…
T: my cheese was melted.
A: mine wasn’t. i could pick out singular pieces of finely shredded cheese. The fries weren’t bad, but i would have prefered eating them dipped in something rather than in the burrito. I’m definately open to attempting another California Burrito, but it has to be made with someone who cares about the product.
T: like the lovely ladies at Karina’s, in Leucadia. I’ll have to take you there the next time we eat “donkey killers.”
A: huh? donkey killers? uh… i’m not really following you, homes.
T: the ancient ones used to make california burritos that were so large they were known to choke donkeys. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.
A: hmm… are you delirious? What can i do to snap you out of Tyler-land and back to reality?
T: I don’t know. I’m gaining like 2 pounds a week. Literally. And the california burritos are getting easier and easier to take down. I don’t know if there’s any going back.
A: it’s just a good thing you were under-weight when we moved out here. now you’re just catching up. hopefully it won’t be irreversable, but maybe you should limit yourself to two cali burritos a month, rather than a week.
T: That sounds reasonable. But I work next door to a badass taco shop. Reasonable now and reasonable right before lunch time are two completely different things.
A: i feel ya. 🙂 so, how would you rate Santana’s based on their California Burrito?
T: Santanas seemed like a fast food joint. Santanas is a fast food joint. now, it was way the hell better than burger king (or taco bell), but I wasn’t too impressed. The burrito was good only because I’m silly about california burritos. Let’s put it this way… I don’t want to know what was going on in that kitchen.
A: Me either! And i happen to disagree with part of your comment. I really would compare this burrito to what taco bell would serve if it served California burri..
T: IF they served california burritos. But they don’t. and I disagree anyway. Plus taco bell would have to start making french fries. not gonna happen. And if they did make french fries they would suck ass.
A: i’ll agree to that much. Lets just leave it at me being extremely underwhelmed by my first encounter with a california burrito, and i’m blaming it on Santana’s. I give Santana’s a 2.3/5. It was edible… but just BARELY. I certainly wouldn’t waste my time or caloric intake going back.
T: I give the burrito a 3.7/5. It gets some points for being a california burrito, but it loses points for being very close to, or, for actually being, fast food. So far the reigning cali burrito champion is Karina’s! Woo hoo, go Karina’s! I have every intention of blogging about that burrito one of these lunches. Hopefully you will be able to come have lunch with me sometime.
A: absolutely, any thursday or friday, and it’s on! I’m a little confused about one thing though. Did you just rate the burrito or Santanas?
T: the burrito gets a 3.7/5. Santana’s gets a 2.9/5. It seemed kinda nasty.
A: totally. Maybe we should mention the kick-ass place we went to for dinner.
T: Was Jimmy Wong’s Golden Dragon, now they call it “The Asian Bistro.” On mondays they have absurdly cheap prices. We ate 2 excellent entrees, and I had a large Kirin, for under $20. We were floored because the meal was so good we hardly talked the entire time. And then we got the bill and it was… under $20! Amazing. We’ll be going back there, no doubt.


36 comments so far:

  1. Lea says:

    That thing is horrific!!!!

  2. Jenny says:

    I dont know about proper burritos or anything but the Wahoos fish burrito with the green sauce is just heavenly. Mmmm. The la jolla location on Pearl is fun although I notice there is one in mission valley now. I think its even relatively healthy!

  3. Nicole says:

    Try Adalberto’s…mmmmmmmmmmm

  4. Amanda says:

    Lea, exactly!

    Jenny, of all the burritos that i’ve eaten (and sadly, i’ve eat a lot – having worked at two different burrito joints in college) Fish burritos are my Favorite! I’ve never been to Wahoo’s before but we’re certainly going to have to give it a try!

    Nicole, are you from san diego?!?! I didn’t know! how exciting? do you ever come back? we’ll have to do dinner if you do. I’m still open to cali burritos. just not santana’s! we will have to look Adalberto’s up and give it whirl. so many burritos, so little time 🙂

  5. Mary says:

    Fun post! I am intrigued (and a tiny bit grossed out) by the french fries in a burrito. Who knew there was such a thing as a California burrito? But then again, I just recently learned that the ones I eat up here are called “San Francisco style burritoes”.

  6. Nicole says:


    I’m originally from the Fresno area but I lived in San Diego for a little while and my sister lives there currently. I think Adalberto’s is in Point Lloma…I just remember their California burritos are pretty awesome. I’ll be in California over Thanksgiving (only my second time back to the states in three years!). I’m not sure if I’ll make it down to San Diego or not…hope so!

  7. michellephant says:

    French fries in burritos sounds like a genius idea…I put FF on my fried egg sandwiches…I think the pretty much go on everything! FF pizza! FF salad! FF milkshakes…okay, too far.

  8. Tyler says:

    hmmm… FF pizza… my first instinct was “NO!” but I guess it could be good. FF salad… perhaps. Milkshakes. FF Milkshakes. Hmm… yeah, too far. 😛

  9. Nicole says:

    Sorry back again! Just had to put in my two cents about french fries on pizza! I’ve had french fries on my pizza a few times in Sicily and it’s supergood! It seems like mostly kids eat it here but we love it!

  10. Amanda says:

    Nicole, no need to be sorry! and frankly.. i have to say, french fries and pizza sounds incredibly awesome to me! tyler just doesn’t have the open-minded palate to invision how good that would surely be… sorry tyler! one day we’ll try it and i’m sure he’ll love it.

  11. Honestly, I never had a burrito in my entire life. How I wished there is a burrito stand here. It does look so yummy!

  12. Amanda says:

    Never had a burrito in your life!!! Charles! wow. maybe i should move to Norway and open up a burrito joint (i’ve had years of experience managing and cooking for them). Think I would make any money?

  13. That would be interesting Amanda.

  14. steve says:

    Santana’s rocks!! Granted, I wouldn’t eat there too often but once in a while I’d stop at the Santana’s near SeaWorld drive for a quick Achiato Burrito or CalifBurrito….tasty!! mmmm-mmmm-mmmmmmm!

  15. Monique says:

    I’m from Brazil but I’ve lived in SD for a couple of months, usually having 2 Calif-Burrito/week. I can tell you something: YOU ALL COMPLAIN BECAUSE YOU CAN STILL HAVE IT THERE! I can’t find it here, they only have the regular ones… I’m burrito-sick! I’d take now any Calif-Burrito!

  16. Alex says:

    I like burritos. you guys should try ALGObertos burritos…yeah

  17. Tara says:

    I love California Burritos. I grew up in Chula Vista (for those who don’t know thats south bay san diego) I live in New Jersey now and cant find any california burritos. I started making my own and my friends from Jersey can’t get enough. If you want a great california burrito go to Lolita’s in Bonita.

  18. Ed says:

    YES! LOLITAS is great! A few years back, I moved from the bay area down to San Diego. I used to think places like Rubios and Una Mas had the best burritos. Turns out, they weren’t authentic and just as Americanized as Taco Bell. When I had my first California burrito, I was hooked. Sadly, I moved back to the bay area and miss them dearly. I think I’m going to make my own today! Just thinking about makes my mouth water.

    In my opinion, Santana’s in Point Loma has the best Cali burrito. They go for $2.95-$4.35, depending on which burrito joint you go to.

  19. wtf chuck says:

    I’m using mandy-burrito.jpg for my internet cartoon, I hope that is ok. If not I appologize.

  20. Scott says:

    If it is the ultimate California burrito that you are chasing, you should try the one at Tommy’s Tex-Mex on Voltaire in between Point Loma and OB. Tommy’s has the best homemade torillas in all of southern California, couple that with the best fresh ingredients and you will find the BEST California burrito ever made! Go give it a try!

  21. Adam says:

    I have to agree with Scott. I just found Tommy’s (now called “Don Tommy’s) and it seriously blows Santana’s and Robertos away. I was very loyal too, but after my first California from Tommy’s, there’s no going back. Four reasons: 1. hand made tortillas that are made right there in front of you as you wait. They are thick and chewy, and awesome! 2. The ingredients aren’t kept warm until they roll the burrito, they cook it fresh right there in front of you too. Beware though, because of that, these things are HOT for a good little while. 3. One of the requirements of Cali burritos is that they are big. These things are HUGE! They take me at least an hour to eat, I have to take my time or I get too full. I weighed one a couple weeks ago, and it was 1.5lbs. 4. The Salsa. I haven’t tried all of them, but the red and the white-ish ones are soooo good. They’re spicy, but they have a really good taste! Also, you serve yourself the salsas, not like some other places who have recently started charging for extra salsa which is kind of oily.

    Anyway, as you can tell, I’m pretty stoked on Tommy’s right now!

  22. Ani says:

    If you’re ever in the Hillcrest area, I think that La Fuente has a decent Cali Burrito. Not everything at this place is great but a lot of it is and this coming from a gal who grew up on Mexican food…And if you’re ever up in Encinitas/Leucadia area, the very best taco shop my mom and I have been to is Juanita’s Taco Shop. We even wrote them up in our annual dining guide at the UT a few years back.

    La Fuente Mexican Food
    1227 University Ave
    (between Richmond St & Vermont St)
    San Diego, CA 92103

    Juanitas Taco Shop
    290 N Coast Highway 101
    Encinitas, CA 92024

  23. mike in sd says:

    anyone who thinks santanas cali burrito is no good is a total MORON!! ive had franchise burritos everywhere and nothing compares to a cali at santanas. i honestly eat one every day and im 6ft 190lbs. if you are a fat lazy pig then you should stay away from them and all fast food in general. if you dont like them then dont go there. im sick of waiting in the drive thru for 30 minutes just to get my lunch.

  24. Bobbi says:

    I love the carne asada burritos at Santanas (the one in Pt Loma, not the one in El Cajon) but never noticed the cali burrito. I bet with all the great salsas that Santanas has that even that cali burrito would taste good. I am glad to have read about Tommys, now I know where to eat in OB again.

  25. Chris says:

    Everyone knows a true California burrito comes from a restaurant that ends in -ertos. Otherwise, you’re eating gringo food.

    Oh, and just for the record, Taco Bell actually did serve french fries in some test markets. I was lucky enough to live by one that did. And boy, they were tasty!

  26. Leslie says:

    OMG!! My husband and I used to live in San Diego. He was stationed at point loma. WE LOVE CALIFORNIA BURRITOS!!! I was actually looking for the recipe since we are now stationed in IL. We miss it a TON. they are so addicting! So if anyone has the recipe that would be GREAT! thanks

  27. Pookie says:

    My hubby and I lived in Sacramento and we always went to get California burritos at the Adalberto’s there! I think they only have them in San Diego and Sac, not sure. But they are freaking delicious! I’m trying to remake them at home now that we live on the east coast. Mexican food here sucks, lol! I’ve learned to make my own tortillas and salsa, already got the fries down, just need to master the carne asada and we’re set!

    Nom nom nom YUM!!!!

  28. spikoli says:

    when i lived out there in san dayago, id eat those cali burritos all over town. mexican dude javier turned me on to em’. when i ask for them here in southwest michigan the counter people look at me like im stoned! ive tried to explain but i they dont seem to wanna add it to their menus…bummer for us michiganders, cuz cali burritos are the crack!!

  29. Ex SD member says:

    Okay. I know what the problem is, I experienced this first hand. Go to the Santana’s by the sports arena. This is the only location where the food is good, second would be El Cajon and don’t go to any other. All other location’s have OTM’s (other than mexican’s) and they don’t put as much care into the food as the locations I have mentioned. Take care and if you have problems ask to speak to the manager and show them… the manager’s are Hard A. and don’t take that kind of c-rap.

  30. Jesse says:

    Any “Mexican” delicacy preceded by “California” is typically a Gringo’s idea. What do they know about real Authentic Mexican Food? The worst of it is, they’ll claim it’s the best mexican
    food around and you see nothing but gringos in the establishment. That’s of until you visit the kitchen.

  31. unomos says:

    Here is my “official” account of what a true California Burrito is. Let me know your thoughts http://unomos.blogspot.com/2009/10/california-burrito.html

  32. Rich says:

    I have lived in San Diego since 1989 and I will swear that the best California Burrito in the world is at Karina’s in Leucadia, just north of Leucadia Blvd on the 101. I have eaten at Santana’s many times and I would rate there Cali Burrito at about an 8/10, and Karina’s at 10/10.

  33. Shawn says:

    I haven’t had a Santana’s Cali since 1998. I miss them dearly. I preferred the chicken ones. Mmmm…grease, chicken, french fries, all washed down with the red sauce. I can feel my arteries hardening right now…I think I’m going to cry now…

  34. ashton says:

    whoever gave this 3 of 5 is a homo. it should be 5 of 5…puta

  35. Kim says:

    @Jesse, whoever claimed a California Burrito is authentic Mexican cuisine? Sometimes, one of the best food out there is inspired by other genres. Stop being such a snob.

    Anyway, I lived in San Diego for 4 years while in college. Fell in love with the California burrito. My favorite was actually from this small little Mexican market that has a back corner devoted so some fast food. It was in El Cajon. Live in NY now for grad school and man I miss it.

  36. Linda says:

    I lived in Mexico City, Mexico 10 years ago..and you could find carne asada tacos with french fries at many taco stands. It’s not a California creation at all.