Next time you bite into a California Burrito in San Diego, it’ll likely cost you an extra buck or so.
Across the United States, the meat industry has been disrupted by coronavirus-related closures at meat processing facilities. This has led to both rising prices for meat and, well, even rarity in some cases.
Earlier this month, the impact was felt at the burger chain, Wendy’s, where burger shortages were reported across some locations in California, leaving many folks on Twitter bringing back an oldie but a goodie, asking: “Where’s the beef?”
Now, the impact of rising meat prices and shortages is trickling down to San Diego’s taco shops.
And it’s messing with one very San Diego-centric staple: the California Burrito, something many consider a local delicacy.
The burrito is filled with carne asada, French fries and other fixings. Variations of it are found on taco shop menus across San Diego County, and where to find the best California Burrito is a topic San Diegans are passionate about.
Today, more than two months after the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County, locals have reported finding signs at their local taco shops that alert customers of a rise in the price of California Burritos, as well as Carne Asada Burritos, due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
For instance, last week a sign spotted at a Los Panchos Taco Shop on Waring Road near Zion Avenue in Allied Gardens read, in part: “The COVID-19 situation continues to bring unexpected beef and pork plant closures. This is creating a shortage of product into commerce and therefore protein prices are skyrocketing.”
As a result, that taco shop – on that same sign – had to let customers know that a surcharge of $1.25 is now being charged to all carne asada items, including the California Burrito.
A similar sign was spotted on May 18 at a Sombrero Mexican Food restaurant on Main Street in El Cajon. That sign said prices on carne asada and shredded beef items were temporarily rising “due to supply shortage causing record high prices.”
The rise at that location: 97 cents more for any burritos, fries or nacho dishes with carne asada or beef, and 48 cents more for tacos or bowls.
Over at Ramberto’s Taco Shop on Sweetwater Road in Spring Valley, another surcharge sign warning of a $1 hike in prices of items featuring carne asada.
“COVID-19 situation continues to bring unexpected issues in the packing and slaughter facilities in the nation. Prices of protein are skyrocketing,” the Ramberto’s sign read, in part.
A coronavirus impact-related surcharge was also spotted on a receipt from El Armando’s Mexican Food on Poway Road in Poway.
The owner of El Armando's Mexican Food, Ramon Juarez, said meat prices have doubled and it's becoming more difficult to find vendors. Juarez said they are not serving less meat and hope to remove the temporary surcharge soon once meat prices stabilize.
The San Diego City Attorney's Office said restaurants are allowed to increase prices under a State of Emergency as long as the surcharge is clearly disclosed to customers prior to purchase, and the increase in prices is caused by an increase in costs paid by the restaurant.
"We understand the catastrophic impact that the pandemic has had on our local restaurants and that they are likely taking on new costs in order safely serve customers," said the San Diego City Attorney's Office. "We're hopeful that restaurants will continue to clearly disclose any necessary price increases to customers before they place their orders."
Have you seen a meat surcharge at your favorite San Diego-area taco shop since the coronavirus pandemic? Where is your favorite local spot to grab a California Burrito?