Saturday, August 16, 2008
TBG Eats: Rubio's Grilled Gourmet Tacos
This lightly-read blog has been around for almost two years and in that time, I've done my best to ensure that the "TBG Eats" posts maintain as much of a national focus as possible. However, in the interest of finding August blog fodder that has NOTHING to do with baseball, some of you will be forced to read a food review about a place you've never heard of. Sorry about that. Blame Taco Bell for not introducing anything new. And, no…this recently re-introduced menu item doesn't count.
Rubio's has become something of a local landmark for especially lazy national media members who've grown tired of equating San Diego with temperate sunshine. In pretty much every touristy puff piece about this city, under "places to eat", the words "you've GOT to try a Rubio's fish taco" are almost always first and foremost.
Personally, I like Rubio's, but their fish tacos aren't all that. (Or "all there", or whatever the hell the kids were saying 20 years ago.) Rubio's fish tacos are about as big as the distance from the bottom of your middle finger to the top of your wrist. The shredded cabbage-to-fried fish ratio has gotten out of control, while the white, creamy mystery sauce is now dispensed by the teaspoon.
For delicious fish tacos (and, trust me, they're a lot better than they sound) most San Diegans prefer the burrito-sized, heavily-battered coronary-blockage bombs served at any of the one million hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in this city.
Still, Rubio's is good for rotating interesting seasonal items in and out of its menu. I've enjoyed their burritos stuffed with swordfish, mahi mahi, lobster or baby seal meat, so it should come as no surprise that I was sucked in by Rubio's pretentiously-titled "Gourmet Tacos". I ordered one with sirloin steak and the other with grilled chicken.
The steak taco was a little disappointing: the meat was tough and undercooked (c'mon, Rubio's…ANY red meat in a real Mexican dish should have a little char on it), but the toppings came close to carrying this to the promised land.
The chicken taco, on the other hand, was phenomenal: fat strips of seasoned white meat chicken, toasted cheese, big-azz chunks of fresh avocado, habeñero citrus salsa, creamy chipotle sauce…and bacon. The steak taco had the exact same toppings, but it all works a bajillion times better with the bird.
Everything is wrapped in a corn tortilla that's lightly oiled, then heated until it's a little bit crispy and a little bit chewy. A la carte, the steak taco is $3.79 and the chicken is $3.49.
Grade (Gourmet Steak Taco): 3 (out of 5)
Grade (Gourmet Chicken Taco): 500