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California Tortilla, Headquartered in Rockville


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#1 erikv

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 06:13 PM

I've been a fan since they opened the Bethesda location many moons ago. The food is consistantly great for fast food, and blows away Chipotle and Baja Fresh in my opinion. Any other fans out there? Favorite burrito? I've been rotating between the Blackened Chicken Caesar and the Spicy Sunset lately....

#2 TinDC

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 07:15 PM

I am. I used them to cater a party recently and was very pleased. Queso, guac, chips and salsa. Chicken and steak fajitas with all the sides and rice and beans. Plus brownies and cookies, all for about $9 a person. Their chips must be fried in lard because they have a "meaty" taste (and that's a good thing).

#3 bilrus

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 09:40 PM

I've only eaten at the location in the food court at BWI because it always LOOKS the best - jenrus insists that it is better outside the airport, but everything I've had at that location has been really, really bad.

Let's put it this way - I ate at Quizno's before my last trip.
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#4 JeffC

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 10:48 PM

I've had mixed experiences. Some of the Burritos a excellent, but much depends on who puts it together and how they handle the ingredients. I tend to like non-designer Burritos, with loads of jalepenos and a fair amount of hot salsa.

But what I like best about Californai Tortilla is the selection of hot sauces. I generally leave having bought at least one or two that I haven't tried, as well as replentishments of my staples, like Maui Mango Eruption. Yum.....

The one near the courthouse in Rockville is the one I frequent the most. Their quality is generally consistant on the good side.

#5 JPW

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 07:09 AM

I've had mixed experiences. Some of the Burritos a excellent, but much depends on who puts it together and how they handle the ingredients. I tend to like non-designer Burritos, with loads of jalepenos and a fair amount of hot salsa.

But what I like best about Californai Tortilla is the selection of hot sauces. I generally leave having bought at least one or two that I haven't tried, as well as replentishments of my staples, like Maui Mango Eruption. Yum.....

This is exactly my experience the few times that I've stopped by the one on Colesville Road in the TJ's strip mall. Haven't been to the one in Rockville, so I can't really compare locations.

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#6 JLK

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 12:31 PM

I'm pretty surprised at the positive comments (local or not, it IS a chain, and we know how most folks around here feel about chains :) ) I have only been to the Verizon Center location. Went twice and thought it sucked both times. YMMV but I have no interest in trying again.

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#7 Heather

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 12:39 PM

We've stopped by the Rockville location a couple of times before a movie and was not impressed enough to pick up a carryout menu. For fast salt-bomb burritos I prefer the carnitas at Chipotle, but CT gets at least a couple of points for having some kid-sized options.

#8 zoramargolis

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 01:38 PM

I'm pretty surprised at the positive comments (local or not, it IS a chain, and we know how most folks around here feel about chains :) ) I have only been to the Verizon Center location. Went twice and thought it sucked both times. YMMV but I have no interest in trying again.

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#9 Pete

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 02:15 PM

I ate once at the Fairfax location. I found the burritos to be fairly bland. I much prefer Baja Fresh or Chipotle despite all of the California Tortilla coupons that we used to get in the mail.

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#10 allegra

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 03:04 PM

I've tried the Cleveland Park location a couple of times and noticed that every burrito tastes the same, whether it's Caesar-themed, Mexican-themed, or Mediterranean-themed. It's just very big and bland (I guess that's where the wall of hot sauces comes in).

#11 DanielK

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 03:17 PM

We've stopped by the Rockville location a couple of times before a movie and was not impressed enough to pick up a carryout menu. For fast salt-bomb burritos I prefer the carnitas at Chipotle, but CT gets at least a couple of points for having some kid-sized options.

Indeed - they definitely have a more kid-friendly menu. Their guacamole doesn't suck, but I definitely stick with the "classic burritos" - all of the specialty ones don't seem to pique my interest.

They also have the the Monday Night Mystery Price Burrito Wheel.

No, really.

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#12 wolverine

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 03:38 PM

I think California Tortilla is consistently the best. I used to prefer Baja Fresh, but their quality has slipped over the last year and a half. For those who like Chipotle, I'd recommend trying Qdoba. Same quickness, but better and, for reasons I can't explain, seemingly fresher (both have the food by the counter all day).

#13 ICD

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 12:07 PM

I like California Tortilla best for burritos, especially with the addition of the many available hot sauces. I find Chipotle burritos to be very bland and the rice/beans/meat not well distributed within the flour tortilla. Plus, Chipotle's tortilla chips taste stale to me. However, I will note that the quality of California Tortilla varies by location. My favorite is the one in Olney, which is not as close to me as the one in Rockville, which I find only to be good. My least favorite is the one in Potomac.

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#14 TSE

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 02:12 PM

I find Chipotle burritos to be very bland and the rice/beans/meat not well distributed within the flour tortilla. Plus, Chipotle's tortilla chips taste stale to me. However, I will note that the quality of California Tortilla varies by location.

I agree regarding Chipotle's chips, but I don't think that their burritos are bland, particularly when compared to California Tortilla. I do have to admit that I actually enjoy a somewhat uneven dispersion of Burrito components, as it makes each bite a distinct flavor adventure.

#15 demandalicious

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 02:37 PM

However, I will note that the quality of California Tortilla varies by location.

True indeed. I am a fan of the Bethesda location.

My poison? A classic veggie with guac and enough hot sauce to burn my face off.

#16 Joe H

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 05:36 PM

Well, here goes my credibility: I like Chipotle. No, it's not a burrito stand on the Texas border and it may not be nearly as good as what can be found at mom and pop joints in Amarillo or Hatch. Or Chula Vista. But for me it's better than California Tortilla who have discovered what a good franchise salesman can do for their bank account.

#17 zoramargolis

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 08:36 PM

Rice does not belong in burritos. What belong in a burrito are beans, meat and spicy salsa, and I ask for extra cilantro. Maybe some cheese and guacamole. It's a tossup whether Chipotle's pork or Baja Fresh's pork is better, although Chipotle's beef barbacoa can be tasty. When I get the peppers and onions with the stewy beef, it reminds me of machaca, my favorite from the old Burrito King days on Sepulveda near Venice Blvd. Before La Salsa opened. But seriously, rice ruins a burrito. It's just there to fill your stomach with cheap carbs.

#18 JPW

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 07:48 AM

Rice does not belong in burritos. What belong in a burrito are beans, meat and spicy salsa, and I ask for extra cilantro. Maybe some cheese and guacamole. It's a tossup whether Chipotle's pork or Baja Fresh's pork is better, although Chipotle's beef barbacoa can be tasty. When I get the peppers and onions with the stewy beef, it reminds me of machaca, my favorite from the old Burrito King days on Sepulveda near Venice Blvd. Before La Salsa opened. But seriously, rice ruins a burrito. It's just there to fill your stomach with cheap carbs.

I'm with you on that, but you should see the looks I get when I say "carnitas, no rice please".

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#19 ICD

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 07:53 AM

Rice does not belong in burritos. What belong in a burrito are beans, meat and spicy salsa, and I ask for extra cilantro. Maybe some cheese and guacamole. It's a tossup whether Chipotle's pork or Baja Fresh's pork is better, although Chipotle's beef barbacoa can be tasty. When I get the peppers and onions with the stewy beef, it reminds me of machaca, my favorite from the old Burrito King days on Sepulveda near Venice Blvd. Before La Salsa opened. But seriously, rice ruins a burrito. It's just there to fill your stomach with cheap carbs.

Absolutely no argument over authenticity, however, the California Tortilla burritos remind me of what I ate growing up Cuban in the Miami area--rice, beans, and a protein. Except it wasn't wrapped in a flour tortilla. I can really empathsize with you about your favorite burrito. One of my favorite items growing up was masitas de puerco or fried pork chunks. Sure, you can get them here, but they are not the same. Good fried pork chunks are marinated to develop the flavor, braised to tenderize them, and then fried to crisp to crisp them up. They should be melt-in-your-mouth soft, surrouned by a crispy shell. All they have here is bland, hard deep fried pork bits it seems.

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#20 zoramargolis

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 09:09 AM

One of my favorite items growing up was masitas de puerco or fried pork chunks. Sure, you can get them here, but they are not the same. Good fried pork chunks are marinated to develop the flavor, braised to tenderize them, and then fried to crisp to crisp them up. They should be melt-in-your-mouth soft, surrouned by a crispy shell. All they have here is bland, hard deep fried pork bits it seems.

What you are describing sounds similar to the method for making authentic carnitas--minus the citrus marinade that is customary in Cuban cuisine, and roasting instead of frying to achieve crispiness. The chains (BF and C) call their pork "carnitas" but it is really just stewed, pulled pork--it lacks the extra step of roasting and crisping of true carnitas.

#21 yeuxblu

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 10:26 AM

Rice does not belong in burritos. What belong in a burrito are beans, meat and spicy salsa, and I ask for extra cilantro. Maybe some cheese and guacamole. It's a tossup whether Chipotle's pork or Baja Fresh's pork is better, although Chipotle's beef barbacoa can be tasty. When I get the peppers and onions with the stewy beef, it reminds me of machaca, my favorite from the old Burrito King days on Sepulveda near Venice Blvd. Before La Salsa opened. But seriously, rice ruins a burrito. It's just there to fill your stomach with cheap carbs.

See I totally disagree with your rice comment. There's nothing I love more than a bean, rice, and cheese breakfast burrito. Followed closely by a potato, egg and bacon breakfast taco. The great thing about burritos are you can throw what ever you want in to it, wrap it up and chow down.

Chipotle will mix your burrito with a spoon if you ask. I was suprised to see this one day. Me I look forward to a bite of rice mixed with cheese and sour cream followed by a bite of guacamole, lettuce and beans. Love those simple pleasures.

#22 Woodleygrrl

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 11:04 AM

AS far as fast food goes, I am not sure what beats CA Tortilla. I have always found the ingrediants to be fresh and the service to be fast. I would much rather get food from this joint than another chain. I for one can't go out to DC Coast, or Ceiba, or Kaz everyday for lunch. I just don't make that kind of scratch.
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#23 zoramargolis

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 11:18 AM

The great thing about burritos are you can throw what ever you want in to it, wrap it up and chow down.

There's a mini-chain in L.A. called Stan's Oki-Dog that makes teriyaki burritos and pastrami burritos. You can put baba ghanouj or creamed chipped beef in a flour tortilla and call it a burrito, if you want. I'll pass.

#24 DonRocks

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 11:45 AM

AS far as fast food goes, I am not sure what beats CA Tortilla.

Chick-fil-A beats it. :)

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#25 Woodleygrrl

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 12:41 PM

Chick-fil-A beats it. :)

touche my good man. Extra pickles on that bad boy please
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#26 hm212

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 10:20 AM

I am not really a fan but saw the sign for free food and thought someone might be interested.

Wednesday, September 24th is our Birthday but you get all the gifts.

Be one of the first 50 people to purchase an entrée after 11am or after 5pm and get a Limited Edition T-shirt The only rule is that it's just one per person present. Also EVERYONE who purchases an entrée and wishes us a happy birthday in some fashion (card, song or cave drawing) that day will get a coupon that's good for a free burrito, quesadilla or salad on the following day, Thursday, September 25th.

http://www.californiatortilla.com/


#27 rbh

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 11:39 PM

one of the things I like about CalTort is the movie deals they have... on 7th St and in Rockville at the neighboring Regal Theaters (and probably some others... these are just the ones I know about). $12.99 for a burrito, soda, and a movie ticket. Considering movie tickets runs $10.50 these days.... it's a damn good deal. And if you don't feel like seeing a movie that day, you can just take the voucher and cash it in some other time.

#28 KeithA

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 04:10 PM

one of the things I like about CalTort is the movie deals they have... on 7th St and in Rockville at the neighboring Regal Theaters (and probably some others... these are just the ones I know about). $12.99 for a burrito, soda, and a movie ticket. Considering movie tickets runs $10.50 these days.... it's a damn good deal. And if you don't feel like seeing a movie that day, you can just take the voucher and cash it in some other time.

Haven't been in awhile to this location, but I know the CalTort across from the Gallery Place cinemas used to have a similar deal.

#29 Stacey

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 10:54 PM

They have a lot of specials tomorrow to celebrate their birthday I got a private email since I'm on their subscriber list. You can visit their websit but there are scads of give-aways tomorrow (wednesday).
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#30 Pool Boy

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 09:47 PM

THeir buritos are good, but way, way off limits to me while still on Weight Watchers. 27 points for a single burrito!

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#31 DPop

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 08:59 AM

THeir buritos are good, but way, way off limits to me while still on Weight Watchers. 27 points for a single burrito!

Maybe the Penn Quarter location is just really really awful, but I have always found this place to have below average food and good hot sauce. The BBQ chicken burrito is sweet and blah, the Blackened Chicken Caesar has always tasted burnt and dried out, and the chips and queso is about as bad as food that is tremendously unhealthy can taste. Am I missing something here? In my opinion, this is the worst food on that block, including Pot Belly, Fuddruckers, and (gasp) Subway.

#32 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 02:29 PM

FWIW, I've always enjoyed the Seven Locks location, and the new one at Quince Orchard seems to be holding up their end. Yeah, they use bbq sauce in too many of their concoctions, and the food's not even remotely like anything you'd find in an authentic burrito shack.

But hell, I dig their sense of humor, now I'm officially Burrito Elito.

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#33 Heather

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 08:56 PM

Lunch was a "Carnitas verde" burrito from California Tortilla. Dude. People who bitch about Chipotle would take it all back after trying this place. Tasteless meat, soggy rice, no discernible salsa (verde or otherwise), tomatoes that tasted like preservatives, and wan iceberg lettuce instead of the advertised romaine. Never, ever again.

#34 Heather

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 07:23 PM

Lunch was a "Carnitas verde" burrito from California Tortilla. Dude. People who bitch about Chipotle would take it all back after trying this place. Tasteless meat, soggy rice, no discernible salsa (verde or otherwise), tomatoes that tasted like preservatives, and wan iceberg lettuce instead of the advertised romaine. Never, ever again.

Apparently, I have killed enough brain cells in the past 18 months that I completely forgot this experience. Not only did I try California Tortilla again, but I ordered the same tasteless craptastic burrito - right down to forgetting to ask for no rice. :) This is not good tasting food.

ETA: even weirder, I got chips & queso on the side, and some of the tortilla chips had sugar instead of salt on them. Ew.

#35 KeithA

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 03:56 PM

Apparently, I have killed enough brain cells in the past 18 months that I completely forgot this experience. Not only did I try California Tortilla again, but I ordered the same tasteless craptastic burrito - right down to forgetting to ask for no rice. :) This is not good tasting food.

ETA: even weirder, I got chips & queso on the side, and some of the tortilla chips had sugar instead of salt on them. Ew.

I wholeheartedly disagree - I really like California Tortilla and think most of their food is pretty good. I guess taste differs. I say this being a regular who eats there probably once a week (usually the Cleveland Park location, but I've been to several including recently at BWI). Typically I get the honey lime burrito but have them use the blackened chicken (which has more flavor) than the regular mesquite chicken (which isn't too bad either). They cook their chicken and other meats right there in the restaurant, make their pretty good salsa fresh, and some, but not all of their sauces are good. I like the honey lime and I usually add from their Wall of Flame. Some of my favorites are the JT Pappys line (for those who don't want too much heat) and Melinda's mango hot sauce for something sweet. I also like CalTort's turkey chili which is very filling, well spiced, but could use a few more vegetables. My wife always gets their veggie burrito (but without the cheese and sour cream) and that is another plus at this place there are a ton of vegetarian options. Sometimes I get their steak burritos or tacos and the marinated beef is ok, but I like the blackened chicken better. There specials are hit or miss - I like the fish tacos (now part of the regular menu), but I thought their current korean bbq steak taco topped with kimchi was so so (the kimchi was too pickly mixed with the sweet sauce). Also, I've never had bad non-salty chips there - if anything they can be too salty and they are better when they are warm - which is only half the time.

The atmosphere in the restaurants is kitschy, but hey I like silly promos and free stuff - who doesn't like cash back loyalty on a Burrito Elito card or spinning wheels for prizes. They are also happy to accomodate changes to their pre-designed burritos per my comments above. So, while it may not be for everyone, I think it is a great go-to cheap eat. If you like less options to customize and less freebie/kitsch then go to Chipotle which I think has similar, but not better tasting meat. Personally, I'll stick with the options and fun of Cal Tort.

#36 AlexC

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 09:19 PM

It's been, oh, two years since I was at a CalTort, but my go-to was always requesting a turkey chili burrito -- rice, jalapenos, queso, turkey chili, maybe onions and peppers too. It's not on the menu, but they'll make it for you. KeithA is right -- the turkey chili is good.

#37 AlexC

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 09:19 PM

It's been, oh, two years since I was at a CalTort, but my go-to was always requesting a turkey chili burrito -- rice, jalapenos, queso, turkey chili, maybe onions and peppers too. It's not on the menu, but they'll make it for you. KeithA is right -- the turkey chili is good.




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