Burritos and Champagne


For the first time ever, I spent Christmas and New Year celebrations away from my family..and instead with my soon-to-be in-laws in San Diego.

My fiance Dallas and I were incredibly excited to go to see family and friends..and we also had a major craving ever since moving to the MidWest – a craving for delicious Cali burritos. Despite having found incredible Mexican/Latin spots in Chi-town like Frontera Grill, there has been no luck in finding a burrito that can compare with the ones made in San Diego…and perhaps that’s a good thing.

View of Del Mar after I got a Cali Burrito at Filiberto's. Oooh ooh it's magic!

View of Del Mar after I got a Cali Burrito at Filiberto’s. Oooh ooh it’s magic!

I don’t think the SoCal burrito experience would be quite as awesome or significant if you could just have it anywhere.

It’s like having deep dish in Chicago – the setting, the local style and flavor, it all makes a big difference. When you take that first bite, a flood of memories can come to you…making you remember why you love that food so much.

When Dallas and I first touched down in San Diego, our stomachs were grumbling like mad. We knew the absolute first thing we had to eat being back in SoCal and especially SD was a CALI BURRITO. (For those who have no idea what this is, keep reading)

We have a few burrito joints we hit up often when in San Diego. As his parents picked us up from the airport and drove us back to the house, we went through the list to decide what would be the token first. There was Rudy’s in Solana Beach, Rico’s or Filiberto’s in Encinitas, or El Indio which we could hit pretty fast on the way to Del Mar (where Dallas’ fam lives) from the airport.


Joe, Dallas’ dad, shouts out “Oh we have GOT to try Los Primos! It’s by the house!” Though a bit hesitant because we hadn’t been to this one yet, Dallas and I decided why not because we just wanted our Cali burritos and wanted them FAST!

As we watched them being made in the kitchen, we knew were going to enjoy them. Honestly  no matter what taco/burrito shop you hit up in San Diego, they most definitely have a version of the Cali burrito on their menu…and it’s usually amazing. San Diego does not mess around with its burrito game!

Look at those glorious fries. LOOK AT THEM!

Look at those glorious fries. LOOK AT THEM!

Urban Dictionary defines a Cali burrito as:

A delicious and mythical burrito found in Mexican eateries, also known as a Cali Burrito. It is native to Southern California, especially San Diego.
The California Burrito consists of carne asada, cheese, sour cream and French fries or potatoes rolled into a flour tortilla.
Guacamole may be substituted for sour cream, though this not a true Cali burrito, just an imposter (known as a Cyrus Burrito).

What makes a Cali burrito a true Cali burrito are the french fries in my opinion. Mixing crispy, seasoned fries with tender carne asada and sharp cheese, pouring a little pica sauce on top – HEAVEN.

Some people enjoy the sour cream – not me, not a fan. I’ve also had it with guac and it’s just not as good – it becomes mushy and weird. I’d rather take my guac and salsa on the side with some warm corn tortilla chips! Now, Dallas tends to get them completely loaded up and inhales them like its his life support. Well…actually they probably are, him being a native San Diegan.

Anyways, once we got home…Dallas’ parents did what they pretty much do every day when you’re at the house – give you a drink!
Typically its wine but that night we popped open some champagne because there was plenty to celebrate. Dallas was in medical school, we were newly engaged, and I had just got a new editorial job…and all of this had happened in a few months. Five months before that moment, I was so unsure of so many things. I felt blessed to be able to toast to all of these great life moments.

Yet as Dallas’ parents raised their glasses to us, I couldn’t help but feel a longing for my family in Memphis. I had just seen them a few weeks ago for my sister’s college graduation…but it being the holidays and being so far from them, that was really hard.

Fun times with Dallas' dad Joe (middle) and his beautiful cousin Jasmin (left).

Fun times with Dallas’ dad Joe (middle) and his beautiful cousin Jasmin (left)!!

Over the whole time in SoCal, it was bittersweet seeing Dallas get to reconnect with his loved ones and knowing I was far away from my own mom and dad, sister and brother. Don’t get me wrong though – I absolutely wanted to be right there with him. After four years of us being together, many of his friends and family are as close to me as my own family.

Being recently engaged, I’ve realized I am at that point in my life where not every holiday or special event may be with my parents and siblings. I may be in another city, with other people, partaking in new traditions. Being in Del Mar with Dallas and his family, eating fry-filled burritos and sipping on good champagne…I thought to myself this is going to be an incredible new chapter in my life.

The experiences I had over the recent holidays were a perfect way to cap off a year filled with changes, growing pains, and my next big steps into adult life. I feel I was all over the place in 2013 and as 2014 starts, I see it was all for the better. I needed those ups and downs and changes and curveballs to push myself and grow.

As I finished off my first meal in Del Mar, I realized the oddness of the combo I’d had. Burritos and champagne? Really? Then again…it seems mixing things up is what my life is about.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Sharareh Drury is an award-winning journalist in Chicago. She's a foodie and traveller, loves to tell stories, and is always hungry for adventure and a flavorful dish to go with it.

16 Comments Write a comment

  1. Aww! 🙁 This comes with growing up and starting a new life with the love of your life. You have to be willing to make sacrifices, but I know you are – You and Dallas are two peas in a pod!

    For me, I have NO IDEA how I would be able to spend a holiday away from my parents, whenEVER that day comes, it will be SO WEIRD! I will go to you for advice, lol!


  2. Hi!
    Stopping by from the SITS tribe! Can’t wait to get to know you and your blog a little better throughout the week and thanks for stopping by mine.

    Growing up is hard isn’t it but when you get burritos and champagne – well that makes it just a bit easier for sure!


  3. So glad you had a good time and some good food! I lived in the Southwest for many years and love that areas Mexican food. When I go back, it is all I eat! I am here from the SITS Tribe and I am looking forward to know ing you better!


    • Thanks for stopping by! I love Southwestern food! A good friend of mine lives in Albuquerque and he introduced me to green chile…glorious green chile!


  4. Hi. I`m dropping in from the SITS tribe.

    Oh my that burritos sound wonderful – and also fries in it :O I can`t come up with one single place here in Norway that would serve me something like that.


    • The fries make it so amazing. If you can’t find it anywhere where you live, it is pretty easy to make!
      The ingredients:
      – Flour or corn tortillas (probably flour if you’re making a burrito)
      – Meaat of choice (steak, chicken, even tofu is fine!…my personal fav is carne asada aka steak)
      – 10 or so seasoned french fries (can be more, less depending how thick you want the burrito to be)
      – Few ounces of Mexican shredded cheese
      – Few slices of avocado (I sometimes do this, sometimes don’t)
      Basically you take the meat, cheese and fries, lay them all down on a large tortilla, wrap the tortilla around until it’s a closed burrito – and eat! You could probably have a burrito bowl too where you put all the meat, cheese, and fries on top of a burrito in a bowl and eat that way…but the burrito itself is so much more fun.
      I highly suggest having some good rojo (red) salsa or pica sauce to go on top!


  5. Ok, I’m ashamed to admit this but I’ve never had a Cali Burrito! I never even knew they existed!!! I think I’ve found my next healthy recipe makeover: a lightened up Cali Burrito. What do you think? Does it defeat the purpose??


    • It’s so funny but I know a lot of people in California who haven’t. It seems to be mostly in San Diego and around that area of SoCal. I’ve seen “Cali Burritos” on menus but that’s typically just a healthy burrito option. Interesting how a Cali anything – burrito, sandwich, panini, etc. – is a healthier version of something!
      And I love your idea! I think there’s pretty much a way to take any food and enjoy it in its original form and a healthier version. I know I’ve done things like had the burrito with chicken instead of red meat…and I’m sure there are things like you could have crispy tofu as the “fries” or gluten-free fries, etc.


    • I know plenty of people who like it that way so no worries! I’ve never been a fan of sour cream myself…but to each their own! A Cali Burrito is amazing no matter what so it’s all good. 😉


  6. You had me at burritos and champagne – two faves! I’m totally going to look for a Cali burrito next time I’m in the San Diego area – in the meantime I make my own, very similar to what you described (although I’m vegetarian so I do black beans instead of meat – maybe it’s not the same but it’s AWESOME to me!) Anyway, I’m such a foodie and have enjoyed looking through your posts!



    • Thank you for stopping by Stephanie! Yes, you definitely have to try a San Diego/Cali burrito. It is HEAVEN. You can always opt for tofu or something else instead of the meat…like I said, the french fries make it for me. They need to be seasoned and crispy of course.
      Happy to have a fellow foodie come on by. Will check out your blog too! <3


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