A carne asada burrito with avocado, but "no fillers"
They bill themselves as virtual restaurants, available to order through all the usual delivery apps. But there’s a little more back story to TJ Burrito Co. and Blue Luna Café & Deli. Including a walk-up ordering window, with a small patch of green turf and seating.
The dual businesses operate out of the same kitchen, in what appears to be a former bank building in Bonita. Blue Luna Café serves coffee, smoothies, parfaits, breakfast sandwiches, and toasts. And while the focus does tend to be on what are traditionally morning items, it makes its menu available til 7 pm each Monday through Saturday.
The shared walk up window of Blue Luna Cafe and TJ Burrito Co.
That’s something most coffee shops can’t do during the shutdown, for want of afternoon business. Of course, doubling as a burrito shop supplements the later hours.
TJ Burrito Co. offers exactly what the name suggests: what it calls “authentic Tijuana burritos,” which include a short list of proteins plus cheese, tomato, and avocado, but no rice, beans, or other “fillers.”
And because TJ Burrito opens with Blue Luna at 7 am, bacon and ham are on that list, rolled with eggs and avocado into breakfast burritos. Oddly, you can’t order a breakfast burrito and coffee together, or vice versa, using the delivery apps, as the menus are kept separate.
A neatly wrapped burrito, to go
But that’s where showing up in person can help. I live too far away to order delivery anyhow, so I drove to Bonita, where curbside pickup remains an option. There’s a walk-up window — clearly defined by a neon sign — right around where the bank drive through used to be. The off-street thru-way allows delivery drivers an easy spot to idle while waiting for their orders.
I parked and walked up to the counter window, where the posted menu neither distinguished between Blue Luna or TJ Burrito. There wasn’t anybody visible behind it, but when I called a phone number listed on the menu, a cashier quickly appeared to take my burrito order.
Though intrigued by a portobello asada and tempted by chicken with chipotle salsa, I settled on the carne asada, which was passed back to me through that window just a couple minutes later, neatly wrapped in foil and a paper bag. I was eating it by the time I pulled out of the lot, noting the black angus beef within tasted smokey. I glanced back, hoping to spot a sign of wood or charcoal exhaust, but more likely the smoke came from chipotle marinade, if not liquid smoke.
As for the promised backstory: by showing up in person, I learned that both businesses are new to San Diego expansions of corresponding shops in Tijuana. Having opened in fall 2020, they picked an odd time to cross north. But they do seem to have picked the perfect business model for a pandemic.