Ugh! I'm soooo full! I just finished the fish burrito I brought back from Alertos in Fountain Valley, which happens to be my favorite Mexican food joint. Alertos is kind of the bastard child of the slowly disappearing Albertos chain from San Diego. Both are known for their carne asada burrito, a carnivore's wet dream. A huge soft flour tortilla made with lard, wrapped around a pound seasoned carne asada steak "cubes" and guacamole with a little onion, tomatoes, and cilantro. This primal feast is the sort of thing we used to scarf down as undergrads at UC Irvine. I remember spending many a late night studying with a belly full of carne asada burritos. It has remained a staple of my diet ever since.
There are a triad of things that I order from Alertos. They are:
1. The carne asada burrito
2. The "1/2 order carne asada nachos" - a hefty mound of fresh fried corn tortilla chips smothered in cheese, cubed steak, guac, pico de gallo, refried beans and sour cream)
3. The fish burrito I just devoured.
None of these ticks above $5. The fish burrito I ate today was $3.01, tax included. Another thing I never miss is the pickled carrots and jalapenos. They are free for the asking if you do a drive-up order, and if you are eating in, you can practically make a side dish of it from the self serve salsa bar. Pop these in your mouth and a burst of tartness and jalapeno heat snaps your synapses to attention.
I rarely venture from these staples, but they do a decent chicken enchilada and breakfast burrito too.
Now on to my fish burrito. Except for the fact that it is wrapped in bigger tortilla, the components of this simple burrito are probably the same as a stereotypical Ensanada style fish taco. First there's the tortilla, supple and fragrant, which was lightly grilled before the fillings went in. There's the crunchy fish; crunchy battered nibblets from a species of unknown origin. Then there's the shredded green and purple cabbage, providing the fresh veggie crunch. Along for the ride for flavor is some pico de gallo (diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro), and crema fresca, which has the slight zing of tartar sauce without the mayo richness.
What I like best about the fish burrito is its marriage of textures and tastes. The cabbage and pico de gallo simply screams "salad!" but the crispy battered fish brings keeps it from being boring, giving it that requisite heartiness.
For optimum enjoyment, it is best to eat your burrito on the spot as the fried battered fish does tend to get soggy the longer it stays wrapped. Eat it in store and you will enjoy this work-a-day food along with famished gardeners, Asian students, and nurses in their teddy bear accented garb.
Alertos Mexican Food
17225 Brookhurst Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92708