Berto-style fast food and Mexican restaurants at the wheel of Metro Phoenix
What is a “-berto’s?” It doesn’t take a long drive to encounter countless examples. Roliberto’s, Poliberto’s, Raliberto’s, Eriberto’s — these charming Mexican fast-food joints aren’t made for elaborate, post-gentrification-style tacos, and they’re not likely to satisfy genuine Mexican food purists. They exist in some alternative fast-food utopias where huge portions are incredibly cheap, ingredients are prepared daily, and weather-beaten exteriors serve not as a deterrent but as a signal of all of the above.
They are also the subject of much folklore, with the various Roli and Poli supposedly being actually franchises of a large corporation dodging income tax or, even harder to prove, some sort of money laundering front. ‘silver. More likely, the “-berto’s” suffix typifies an ever-growing list of imitators looking to cash in on the reputation Filberto’s has established since opening its first location in Mesa in 1993. And for those efforts, it It’s no surprise that dozens and dozens exist around the valley.
Here’s a breakdown of the best menu items these Mexican food drive-thru joints in Metro Phoenix have to offer.
Try it: carne asada burrito
Fili-B’s, the original, the eponymous – the name of all the restaurants on this list, if you ask some people. Filiberto isn’t at the top of our list, but this channel deserves some credit for creating the template and sticking to the format. Anyone who’s been to a “-berto” knows what to expect here, and extremely rare is the Filiberto that isn’t open 24 hours or has no drive-thru. Pro tip: Filiberto’s burritos can be ordered in “Jr.” shape, for those looking to keep it a bit lighter.
Try it: fish tacos
With an ever-growing number of locations rivaling the ubiquity of Filiberto, Julioberto’s also offers an almost identical menu. All the basics are here and have been since the chain was founded in 2009. All Julioberto locations are open 24 hours a day and all offer drive-thru. Pro tip: Avoid menu items that rely heavily on cheese for flavor, as Julio’s cheddar isn’t our favorite, even though it gets the job done.
Try it: Pulled Chicken Quesadilla
by Federico may not have the “-bertos” suffix, but it certainly works the same way. This chain offers the oversized burritos, tacos and quesadillas the suffix is iconic for, but with significantly fresher ingredients and consistent preparation. Most open early (like 6 a.m.) and close between 10 p.m. and midnight, but many offer 24-hour drive-thrus. Pro tip: Take advantage of the extensive salsa selection at the salsa bar if you’re dining on square.
3437 Seventh Avenue North
Try it: pollo asado burrito
This unique restaurant deserves praise for its cheaper than normal prices and central location, which means it’s one of the closest “-bertos” to downtown Phoenix. Eriberto also serves up the best pollo asado of any restaurant on this list, with large, tender, fresh cuts of chicken that would actually be fine for consumption outside of the 24-hour Mexican fast-food realm. Pro tip: cut back carbs by ordering your tortilla-free burrito and be rewarded with a particularly generous portion of meat and other toppings.
5032 Seventh Street North
Try it: Bean and Cheese Burrito
This 24-hour drive-thru is perhaps one of our favorites. Rolberto’s tortillas are crispy and anything but soggy, and the beans are some of the softest in town—in a good way. There are no seats inside, but a row of covered picnic tables has usurped what appears to have been a second drive-thru lane. It’s also a great way to get some fresh air after the last call. Pro Tip: Beans, Beans, Beans — add Rolberto’s Soup Beans to almost any menu item for surprisingly complex texture and flavor dynamics.
Mexican food from Torres
240 South West Ave, Tempe
Try them: hearty breakfast burritos
The 24-hour Mexican kitchen in Torres also doesn’t carry the suffix, but we’ve covered that before – these restaurants really do the “-berto” thing. Formerly Riva’s Mexican Food, Torres earns its high ranking for its particularly generous portions, well-equipped and fast-paced kitchen, and convenient location. Fans of Yucca Tap Room and Time Out Lounge will likely know this dive as a late-night stop, and it’s a top option for students at nearby Arizona State University. Pro tip: ask for extra spicy pickled carrots.
1705 East Indian School Road
Try it: Chorizo Burrito
Although hidden, almost under the SR-51 overpass, Region’s is not to be neglected. Offering a host of drive-thru options, Regio’s serves up the “-berto” staples with seemingly more attention to detail. Many of the ingredients from the menu items wouldn’t be too out of place in a table-top affair, and the restaurant’s red and green sauces particularly stand out for their zesty flavor. Regio hours of operation are 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. Pro tip: Add beans to the chorizo burrito for a particularly indulgent dish.
Vaqueros Carne Asada
Try it: carne asada burrito
There is a reason Vaqueros puts the “Carne Asada” right in the name. For our money, this is the best place to score a carne asada burrito in the whole city. Vaquero’s steak is fiercely seasoned and equally tender. They also distribute it in huge portions. A Vaquero burrito is the size of your forearm. No kidding. In addition, Vaqueros is open 24 hours a day. Pro tip: Be sure to ask for extra hot sauce – Vaquero’s sauce containers are small and the kick provided by the red sauce is needed for every bite.
Try it: carne asada quesadilla
Surpassing even the Vaqueros, the Salsitas carne asada game is at the top. Think: barbecue smoke, just as tender, but with a subtle spice. It’s good in any application on the Salsitas menu, but for some reason it stands out the most in a quesadilla. Open 24 hours a day, its multitude of locations means many of us won’t be going home hungry after a night of partying. Pro tip: Ask for guacamole sauce. We repeat: ask for the guacamole sauce. It’s free with any order, and Salsitas makes it spicy and heavy on the avocado.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on January 5, 2017. It was updated on January 27, 2021.