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.
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!
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.
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.