Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 4
Sloppy's Burritos opens in Hillcrest
The plaza at Fourth and University is exploding with new restaurants (sorry, Subway!) and the newest one is an alternative burrito place.
When I was eating at that new pizza place in Hillcrest, workers were putting the finishing touches on yet another new restaurant in the plaza at Fourth and University. “Sloppy’s Burritos,” said the sign, with a little avocado pictograffic for the “o” in “Burrito.” Curiosity is a big motivator for me, so I’ve already gone in there to see what’s what. With a name like “Sloppy’s,” I didn’t think it would be a stereotypical burrito shop. It looked good in there, with lots of blue paint and shiny, new, glass parts everywhere. All the employees were smiling and seemed ready to leap out of their skins for the chance to serve me.
Hey! Turns out it’s Mission style burritos!
Yup, they’ve got steam tables set up and an assembly line for building burritos in the San Francisco style. Steam the tortilla, pile it with rice, beans, meat, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and lettuce, and wrap it up tightly in a piece of aluminum foil.
Their twist is that almost everything is organic, natural, or otherwise deemed wholesome for you and yours to consume. I don’t hate that. It’s not connected to Project Pie, but Sloppy’s also uses the “one price” model. All the burritos (or rice bowls...or salads) are $7.25 and you get to have them however you want. Uncanny coincidence!
Still, Freebirds tried foisting Mission style burritos on the San Diego hoi-polloi a little while back, and they had all the capital they could want behind them. It didn’t work, and now the building next to Urban Outfitters is getting a remodel. I haven’t had the time or inclination to find out what it will be. Anybody know?
The thing is, San Diegans don’t particularly like this kind of burrito. It’s just not our thing. Sloppy’s burrito was OK, as steamed burritos go. The chicken and pork tasted mostly the same (seasoned white meat flavor), but it was better than Chipotle and they had a Boylan’s soda fountain (I made my own cherry cola) just like the pizza place next door. The people who run it are ambitious and they’re already looking at Little Italy for an expansion, but they fight an uphill battle. I know there are people out there who are craving one of these burritos, but will they be numerous enough to sustain a business?
3884 Fourth Avenue
Open daily 11-10