Marty Graham 5:30 p.m., Sept. 29
Fred's Mexican Cafe - Risky
To call a Mexican restaurant Fred's Mexican Cafe in San Diego is a gutsy move, simply because locals have no shortage of authentic Mexican cuisine options to choose from. That's not to say only Mexicans can make great Mexican food, which would be like saying only Italians can make Pizza - that's ridiculous! What I am saying is that Fred better back up the gimmicky name, otherwise it's just kind of tasteless (pun intended).
I carefully cut this thing open to reveal the black bean soup within. Generally, I try to be optimistic when I go about my daily life on this planet, and the people who work there were nice, but this was possibly the worst tasting burrito I've ever had in my life: messy as all hell, completely flavorless, and the bits of fish did not mesh well with the other ingredients, at all. This is beyond the repair of mere rice with chicken broth - this is an international disaster.
I was later told by the manager that the owner is not actually named Fred, but that he is indeed Caucasian - he just doesn't have a Caucasian enough name I guess. Apparently the company started in Hawaii, and some of the Hawaiian decor remains. There is another Fred's Mexican Cafe in Old Town and yet another in the Gas Lamp - the one I visited is located in Pacific Beach and is connected to the night club known as Typhoon Saloon.
So, I suppose if you are really drunk and parting in Peebs, or if you are a tourist who doesn't know any better, you might end up with some Fred's in ya'. But based on my fish burrito experience, I find it hard to believe that any given San Diegian has eaten at Fred's more than once - that is, any San Diegian who was sober enough to remember there are plenty of taquerías within walking distance that are half the price with food that's twice as tasty.
On a related note - if you eat at Taco Bell in San Diego, you should really be asking yourself some serious questions about your priorities, motives, and susceptibility to propaganda.
1165 Garnet Ave.