Hey, readers, get ready. We're putting new meaning into the term "street food." For Chow Bella's latest mission -- "Eating 16th Street" -- we've employed a young woman who's literally eaten her way around the world. Alex Rodriguez has eaten borscht in Moscow, steak in Buenos Aires and a "life-changing panna cotta" in Bra, a small town in the Piemonte region of Italy. Now we've set her palate loose on Central Phoenix's 16th Street. Rodriguez will try it all, from Jefferson Street north to Thomas Road -- and report back, place by place.
The Place: Filiberto's on the corner of 16th Street and East McDowell. The Food: Mexican fast food The Backstory: 17-year-old Phoenix chain of late night eats. The Price: $7 for a burrito and a drink.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse than Salsitas, Filiberto's showed up. Filiberto's has been around since 1993, when its first Mexican fast food joint came up. A few years later, 10 more came up, and now, the chain has more than 55 restaurants in 3 different states across the southwest.
Turns out, quantity doesn't mean quality.
For my 16th Street quest, I tried the drive-thru. I ordered a machaca breakfast burrito -- eggs, shredded beef, cheese, green peppers, onions, and potatoes for 50 cents extra ($4.69).
I might as well have thrown some scrambled eggs and mystery meat on a soggy flour tortilla and called it day. It wouldn't saved me the $4.69.
It was horrible. There wasn't an ounce of flavor in this burrito of sorrow. Thankfully, I remembered that a to-go case of hot sauce was put in my bag before I drove off, so I reached for that, drizzled it over the contents of the burrito, and wound up with a wet burrito of sorrow - still with no flavor.
This was tragic. It hit a new low for me.
I know what some of you are probably thinking: It's a fast food place. It's open 24 hours a day. It's not supposed to be great. You're right -- it isn't supposed to be great, but it could at least be good. Or it can at least be all right. But no. And not even alcohol can salvage my palate.
I had to make a second visit to photograph the interior and walking into Filiberto's was just as much a shock as that sorrowful burrito.
Was the A/C off, or was there an invisible sexy man in the room turning up the heat? There was a line (which befuddled me) and only one woman working the register and the drive-thru.
Here's the interior.
Notice the top left hand corner of the photo. Do you see the ceiling? Let's take a closer look. You'll notice the moisture as we pan inward.
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
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My ancestors are probably rolling in their tombs if they saw this is what's become of the world.
Filiberto's tag line is "Best Mexican Fast Food!" The day this is the best Mexican fast food, the best Mexican food, or the best fast food, pigs will fly, and I'll be strapping on some wings of my own.
Eating 16th Street, So Far: Eating 16th Street: Let's Begin at Pollo Sabroso La Frontera Taco Truck: A Hit and a Run Asadero Norte de Sonora: Family Friendly and Fit for a King Mariscos Playa Hermosa: From the Shores of Mexico to a Colorful Central Phoenix Restaurant Salsitas: Blame it on the Alcohol Pro's Ranch Market: Contents of a Fiesta Under One Roof