Snacks at Los Roberto’s
Open 24 hours, a panel van-cum-billboard parked at the street, a selection of six salsas at the accessories counter ... and more burritos than anyone else in town (I suspect): You’ve got to give Los Roberto’s Taco Shop credit for creativity.
But there’s more to Roberto’s than inventive hustle. This California-style Mexican restaurant that Chef Jason Dady calls “rock solid” has a great deal going for it. Its professed California leanings likely account for the burrito selection, and among them is one Dady recommended about a year ago: the chile-relleno burrito, the turducken of Cal-Mex cuisine. It truly is a meat-stuffed poblano inside a flour tortilla, and though I’m not sure the extra layer is necessary, it’s really pretty good, and a good excuse for ladling on the salsa of your choice. I’d go for the toasty red sauce, but then I always go for the toasty red sauce.
Except for a violet-purple, the salsas pretty much echo the color scheme of the modest restaurant. There’s a delicious smoky red, and the green packs a punch — on the wall and on the plate. The chips are pretty good, too, so you can try as many salsas as you can carry (including the chunky carrot and jalapeño encurtidos) before your order arrives.
From the also impressive torta menu, I picked the carnitas and was initially somewhat staggered by the size — about twice what I tell myself I normally eat for lunch. But the huarache-shaped sandwich was good enough to finish to the last shred of chopped lettuce. The carnitas deshebradas were crusty and full of pork flavor, and there was just enough guacamole.
A cool and cinnamon-spiked horchata, made from a rice base (in some regions of Mexico ground almonds and lime zest are added), is just the ticket with the torta; it’s not especially thick, but the flavors of this classic favorite, a Colonial-era import from the Old World, are honest and true. — Ron Bechtol