Battle of the Burrito: Which Berto’s is the best?

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We ate a burrito from a different Berto’s every day for seven days to determine which one is the best. Here’s what happened.

MEET THE VICTIMS

Madison
I’m a vegetarian, which is honestly a loose term because sometimes I eat seafood and I don’t freak out if I accidentally eat meat (especially if I’m drunk), so I’m not really that picky of an eater. I spend a lot of time eating at Filiberto’s but I usually order small-ticket items like quesadillas or churros. I wouldn’t consider burritos a regular part of my diet. I do eat a lot of veggie burrito contents (beans, rice, veggies), just not all at the same time/blanketed by a giant tortilla.
A burrito isn’t complete without: Sour cream, cheese and hot sauce

Wayne
I’m not a vegetarian, though I was trying to cut a good deal of meat out of my diet recently until this assignment came along. Apparently, my editors think I am the guy in the newsroom who will take on the weird, painful and potentially unhealthy assignments. They’re probably right. In the past year, I’ve flown upside down in a stunt plane, completed a hot spin cycle class and, now, eaten carne asada burritos for seven days straight. Those are all par for the course for my career; I’ll do just about anything for a good story.

A burrito isn’t complete without: A fresh tortilla. Nothing ruins a burrito faster than an old, stale tortilla.

METHODOLOGY

There are a bunch of Berto’s in the Valley, but which one has the best burrito? We were super curious, so we sacrificed ourselves so you don’t have to. (I know, I know. How intrepid of us.) The rules are simple: Eat one burrito a day for seven days. Each day is a different Berto’s, but the same kind of burrito; Wayne can only eat carne asada and Madison can only eat veggie. Rate each burrito on a five-point rating scale based on price, size, quality and how we feel one hour after consuming the burrito. The last Berto standing wins. There can only be one.

THE EXPERIMENT

ROLBERTO’S

Madison
Veggie Burrito: $6

Price: 2
Size: 4
Taste: 5
Quality: 2
1-hour post-burrito feels: 3

Final score: 3.4

I have a working theory that anything will be delicious if you load it with enough cheese and sour cream. There was a ton of both in this bad boy, so I was a happy camper. The lettuce and pico were also pretty fresh, so the taste was a solid five, but this was by far the messiest burrito of the bunch. This is not a consume-in-the-car kind of snack — eating a Rolberto’s veggie burrito is definitely an activity that requires all hands on deck. And a fork. And a few napkins. Much like me after a long day, it fell apart at the end. But honestly, I wasn’t really that mad because I just grabbed a fork and dug in and got the best of both worlds — a burrito and a burrito bowl. I felt pretty lethargic after an hour, though, so the quest for the quintessential burrito continues…

Wayne
Carne asada burrito: $7

Price: 3
Size: 4
Taste: 5
Quality: 5
1-hour post-burrito feels: 4

Final score: 4.2

I, too, have a working theory: burritos are delicious, which is why no Berto’s received lower than a three on my list. That being said, a few of the shops elevated their game. Rolbertos was one of those shops. Maddie must have had a different tortillero than I did, because this Mesa joint had one of the top-notch tortillas that tasted homemade and were rich in flavor with select deliciously burnt spots. They were tender and with just the right amount of chew, but did not split open a la Chipotle (which is a garbage restaurant in my opinion, but that is a story for another day) despite being filled to the brim with meat. The guacamole and pico also tasted fresh (largely due to a ton of fresh cilantro, a critical ingredient. Don’t @ me) and provided bright flavors and a nice bite from the onion, which is necessary to cut through the decadent, fatty meat. Speaking of meat, this was one of most well-seasoned carne asadas I tried, with a few bites eliciting memories of the golden standard (which is Taqueria Los Yaquis in Phoenix). The place only lost points on price, as it was tied for most expensive, and size, though it still measured 3/4s of a forearm.

FILIBERTO’S

Madison
Veggie burrito: $4.79

Price: 4
Size: 3
Taste: 3
Quality: 4
1-hour post-burrito feels: 4

Final score: 3.6

Filiberto’s was hands down one of the most basic burritos I have ever consumed. Was it mediocre at best? Yes. Did I eat the whole damn thing? Hell, yes. Would I eat it again? Most likely, but compared to the rest of the Berto’s, it was pretty freakin’ average. Filiberto’s definitely gets props for price (less than $6 after tax is hard to beat) and sturdiness (it held up pretty well and could easily be eaten with one hand), but on taste alone, it was fairly forgettable. Bye, Filiberto. I still back their quesadillas and churros, though.

Wayne
Carne asada burrito: $7

Price: 3
Size: 5
Taste: 2
Quality: 2
1-hour post-burrito feels: 4

Final score: 3.2

I came at Filiberto’s with high expectations. Not only is it the most ubiquitous Berto’s in Arizona (and much of the Southwest), but there was a location next to my high school in central Phoenix for many years that provided me with after-school sustenance and even purchased ads in my high school newspaper. Sadly, Fili’s did not live up to the hype I had built for it in my head. The tortilla was stale and brittle — telltale signs of being old and left out in the elements — and the meat was cold in the center, which told me that it had been pre-prepared and simply warmed up for my order. Still, Filiberto’s has a rep in the Valley, so I am going to chalk this one up to a bad day and I won’t write them off completely. The pico and guac were decent and the burrito was the size of my forearm, so the overall score still sits in the threes.

RILIBERTO’S

Madison
Veggie burrito: $5.99

Price: 2.5
Size: 5
Taste: 4
Quality: 4
1-hour post-burrito feels: 5

Final score: 4.1

The first bite of the burrito was awesome (like Etta James’ “At Last” plays softly in the background awesome), but I became increasingly more crestfallen with every following bite as a looming suspicion turned into an unfortunate truth — there was no sour cream. In its defense, however, the tortilla was warm and just the right amount of chewy and the ingredients tasted super fresh. It was the perfect size for my level of hunger (I ate the whole thing), the tortilla was able to keep its sh*t together and I felt great afterward, so the whole experience was pretty enjoyable. It was a little pricier than some of the others, but I guess you get what you pay for when it comes to burritos (and most things in life).

Wayne
Carne asada burrito: $6.50

Price: 4
Size: 2
Taste: 5
Quality: 5
1-hour post-burrito feels: 5

Final score: 4.2

Riliberto’s delivered a solid burrito, though it was much smaller than some of the other places we reviewed. I took whole bites that contained nothing but tortilla folded over on itself with some residual guacamole that had seeped into the seams. The saving grace was that Riliberto’s tortillas were top-notch, so even my meatless bites were delicious. The carne asada, guac and pico all tasted fresh as well, which is why I recommend this one as the lunch burrito — you can enjoy the decadent deliciousness of carne asada without going into a food coma before you have to head back to work or class.

ALIBERTO’S

Madison
Veggie Burrito: $5.80

Price: 4
Size: 5
Taste: 5
Quality: 5
1-hour post-burrito feels: 5

Final score: 4.8

The veggie burrito from Aliberto’s is the best burrito I’ve tried all week, and possibly my whole life. These are bold words from someone who doesn’t eat a whole lot of burritos, but trust me on this one — you just have to taste to believe. It was love at first sour cream-filled bite and every one after that, too. This tiny taco shop’s veggie burrito features fresh refried beans, rice, guac, lettuce, pico, sour cream and cheese all cocooned in a soft, chewy tortilla. The price was pretty fair, though I gave it a four because it’s not the cheapest Berto’s on the block, but I was feelin’ fine an hour after, so I’m filing this one under “The Ultimate BAErrito.”

Wayne
Carne asada burrito: $6.50

Price: 4
Size: 5
Taste: 5
Quality: 4
1-hour post-burrito feels: 5

Final score: 4.6

Aliberto’s put itself in contention for my favorite burrito of this gut-busting competition. The small shop near downtown Mesa might not look like much from the outside, but they delivered some of the freshest guac and pico of any of the restaurants I tried. That, paired with quality, well-seasoned carne asada, generous portions and a tortilla that tasted homemade, earned Alibertos high marks.

POLIBERTO’S

Madison
Veggie Burrito: $3.99

Price: 5
Size: 5
Taste: 5
Quality: 3.5
1-hour post-burrito feels: 4

Final score: 4.5

Poliberto’s was by far the cheapest of the bunch – $4 for a giant veggie burrito with all the fixings? Si, por favor! It was super filling and featured a fresh tortilla and tasty ingredients (the pico was especially palate-pleasing), but it lost major points in the quality category due to the simple fact that it was just a hot mess at the end. No one wants a leaky burrito on their hands — literally. I was pretty over the Poliberto’s experience as soon as it started dripping everywhere; the only bean juice I’m down for is coffee. It was still delicious though, so I would definitely come here again if I have a big appetite and want to ball on a budget. Poli’s burrito game is relatively strong, but it’s not quite the best in the Valley.

Wayne
Carne asada burrito: $5.55

Price: 5
Size: 5
Taste: 4
Quality: 3.5
1-hour post-burrito feels: 4

Final score: 4.5

Poliberto’s delivered what I am naming the “College Special” burrito. That’s because the restaurant’s location near Southern Avenue and Priest is not all that far from campus and it offers the best price by far for a carne asada burrito at well under $6. For that price, you get a burrito the size of my forearm wrapped in a soft, chewy and delicious tortilla and filled to the brim with flavorful meat. The only knock I had on this one was that the pico de gallo was a little bland, so I didn’t get that nice sharpness from the onions to cut through the fattiness of the meat.

ERIBERTO’S

Madison
Veggie burrito: $5.49

Price: 4
Size: 3
Taste: 3
Quality: 3
1-hour post-burrito feels: 4

Final score: 3.4

Eriberto’s tortilla was pretty tasty and it was a pretty good size for the price, but the whole enchilada, er, burrito was just okay. I didn’t end up finishing the whole thing because again, it deteriorated at the end and I didn’t have the energy or appetite to pick up the pieces. Eri’s definitely gets points for having fresh lettuce and an acceptable amount of sour cream and cheese, but the rest just fell flat.

Wayne
Carne asada burrito: $7.50

Price: 2
Size: 5
Taste: 3
Quality: 3
1-hour post-burrito feels: 4

Final score: 3.4

The burrito from Eriberto’s was perfectly adequate, though it priced itself out of a good grade at over $8 after tax. Everything tasted the way it should, though the tortilla was a bit stale and dry, so it didn’t measure up to some of the fresher fare from other restaurants. I will mention that the burrito was loaded up with guacamole — more than any other place by far — so if guac is your jam, this might be the one for you.

JULIOBERTO’S

Madison
Veggie burrito: $5.99

Price: 2.5
Size: 4
Taste: 3.5
Quality: 4
1-hour post-burrito feels: 2

Final score: 3.2

What’s a girl gotta do to get some dairy around here? The Julioberto’s veggie burrito is more of a vegan burrito because it is only comprised of beans, rice, lettuce, pico and guacamole, but they certainly don’t skimp on the latter (ain’t nobody got time for that “guac is extra” B.S.), but it definitely lost some points in my book for its lack of cheese and sour cream. Also, I didn’t feel so hot afterwards. I did eat the whole thing without the tortilla falling apart, so that’s chill.

Wayne
Carne asada burrito: $6.99

Price: 3
Size: 4
Taste: 5
Quality: 3
1-hour post-burrito feels: 3

Final score: 3.6

Julioberto’s delivered a solid burrito with a fresh, tender tortilla and a healthy serving of tasty guacamole. On taste alone, it received high marks. The meat from this spot was a little tough at times and chewy at others, though, so the quality score was a little lower than the other spots. I realize when ordering carne asada that I am not going to get filet mignon, but I still had to score the meat relative to the other Berto’s.

THE RESULTS

Madison
Yo, all other Bertos, I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but Aliberto’s has one of the best veggie burritos of all time. Ali’s has the best tortillas, freshest ingredients, reasonable price and size, and is totally worth the drive to Mesa. In fact, we went to Aliberto’s to celebrate the end of burrito week by eating more burritos. And guess what? They were still just as good. Other theories that were proven true during this project: Wayne was right; burritos are delicious. I mean, even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good. Also, the sketchier a Berto’s looks, the better the burrito. Looks like a hole in the wall, tastes like heaven. That’s my motto from now on.

Wayne
This was a hard-fought battle between a bunch of Bertos that did not even know they were vying for my affections. After careful consideration, I declare Aliberto’s the winner, because, quite simply, it offered a reasonably-priced burrito that hit every note — tortilla, meat, pico and guac — just right. The loser? Obviously my digestive system. Those burritos sure were delicious, but now my stomach hurts.

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