3980 Third Avenue, Hillcrest
Burritos are tough to write about because they're not photogenic. That probably says more about what people want to read than it does burritos. But some nights, when the bar shuts down and a stomachful of booze is sloshing around in need of absorption, they're the only narrative option.
I'm not sure who first came up with the California burrito, but I'm pretty sure that's what they were going for – stuffing a cheesy burrito with potatoes, just enough to get you home, not enough to put you to sleep immediately. It's not midnight food, it's middle of the night food. And because your recollection of it will be dim, and because you can blame the hangover for how awful you feel the next day, you will remember it fondly. Everybody loves the California burrito the way everybody loves California — as a concept, and best not dwelled upon.
My late-night go-to has varied little over the years. The bright La Posta sign rises over University Avenue in Hillcrest, shining like a beacon to disheveled revelers seeking what may be described as the world's best edible consolation prize. No one who's successfully hooked up finishes the night with a burrito.
La Posta de Acapulco #8, says the menu, not because there are seven other restaurants necessarily, but because the owners have a special connection to the number, or so says the guy working the counter, possibly because he wants to be rid of me as quickly as possible so he can be rid of the next drunk guy as quickly as possible.
A lot of people will steer you to La Posta for a quesadilla burrito, which is a standard burrito except wrapped in a giant quesadilla instead of a simple flour tortilla. I might make bad dining decisions late at night, but somewhere deep inside I do want to live.
So I order the Cali and wait at one of the mosaic patio tables. There's nothing but outdoor seating here. I wonder if anybody sits out here during the daytime? I've never noticed, and couldn't swear the place even exists in daylight. It might rather rise out of the nocturnal mist to ensnare unsuspecting drinkers.
I also could not hazard a guess whether the ensuing self-loathing has more to do with the glorious six-dollar carne asada, cheese, fries, and guacamole burrito you've just eaten in five bites, or is just the typical drunkard's progression out of intoxication. Either way, that taxi will take you home and dispatch you quicker than the guy manning the burrito counter.
In all honesty, this is why you choose to live in San Diego. Keep your döner, keep your currywurst, keep your chili cheeseburger. When the hour of the wolf approaches, you want La Posta on your side, and the burrito designed to take you home.