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Friday, September 09, 2005 | This week my food adventures went from barbecue to burritos with the help of a discerning teen who knows and loves both.

It’s been said that people don’t agree on politics, religion and barbecue. Barbecue is controversial by way of such factors as how it’s cooked (parboiled first or low and slow over coals), how it’s seasoned (wet or dry) and the region it comes from (Kansas City or Memphis, to name a few). Here in Southern California, true pit-smoked barbecue is a rarity, whereas in Kansas City and the South it is the norm. Grilling, as most of us do during the summer, is not technically true barbecue that is cooked over a low heat for a long time.

Joey’s Smokin’ B-B-Q is in a shopping center down the road from La Costa Resort. Joey’s is not like the funky dives of Kansas City and other barbecue meccas, rather it’s modern with high-top tables inside and on the patio. You order at the counter and the food is brought to you. Baby back ribs come sweet, dry rubbed or wet and like the other meats on the menu are smoked in one of three electric smokers. Joey’s smokin’ combo of chicken and baby backs comes with juicy chicken without grill marks, a flabby skin and a mild smoked flavor. The three sweet ribs, to my taste, were overcooked as the meat literally fell off the bone in one piece. Both the chicken and ribs come covered with an unremarkable, tomato-based sauce. Why cover up good meat? Coleslaw is plain, no vinegar or zip, in a colorful chop of cabbage and the pinto and kidney beans are well-flavored. A corn bread muffin is a bit dry but good for sauce dipping. The southern combo includes pulled pork that melts in the mouth like cotton candy, ribs and a somewhat dry but flavorful brisket. We loved the homemade, crisp and non-greasy sweet potato fries. Joey’s Smokin’ B-B-Q, 6955 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, (760) 929-1396,

From barbecue to burritos: A friend in San Francisco says a good burrito starts with a good tortilla, then good beans, rice and meat. Should you find yourself in San Francisco, try La Cumbre at 515 Valencia St.

In San Diego, my teen pal and I went to Las Cuatro Milpas in Barrio Logan, close to Chicano Park and the Coronado Bridge. For me this place is like going over the border without the hassle. North Island personnel have known of the home-style food for years and the hole-in-the-wall place has a line out the door whenever you drive by. Open for breakfast and lunch only, the menu is tiny: burritos of carnitas, chorizo and eggs, or chicken; beans and rice; taquitos and tamales. The carnitas burrito was meat with a bit of lettuce, no beans or rice, and pronounced quite good by the burrito-eating teen. My taquito and tamale fit the bill with good masa and meat. A small order of rice and beans (pinto and kidney and not refried) come in a bowl served with two flour tortillas that are substantial, not heavy. I had leftovers for breakfast. Seating is in a labyrinthine group of rooms; we sat at a table almost in the kitchen with a view of the woman making flour tortillas. We had a lot of food, including two drinks for $10. Las Cuatro Milpas, 1857 Logan Ave., Barrio Logan (619) 234-4460.

And another place for burritos and a larger menu is Cotijas Taco Shops with various locations in the San Diego area. The one in Point Loma, near Point Loma High, is a favorite of my pal. Here the burritos are packed with close to a pound of meat. I ordered a carnitas burrito and there is no filler … just a pound of well-seasoned and roasted pork, with a smattering of chopped onion and tomato. For $3.87 it’s a heck of meal and one I would share. Cotijas Taco Shop, 3720 Voltaire St. (next to Stumps Market), Point Loma, (619) 226-1477.

Tidbits: It seems that Rama owner Alex Thao and recently installed Chef Kurt Metzger had creative differences over the fusion tapas menu Thao wants for his soon-to-be remodeled front of the restaurant. Metzger is out of the job and Thao is searching for a replacement. Read my Aug. 26 Voice column for more on Rama.

Marcie Rothman loves good food – no matter where it’s cooked – at home, a hole in the wall or a white tablecloth restaurant. Known as The $5 Chef on radio, television and in her two cookbooks, Marcie travels far and near with an eye on what’s current in food. You can find her at

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