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A San Diego rarity – and a surprise in a section of town where the food leans toward the safe and touristy – Berta’s serves wonderful Latin American dishes. The wine list showcases good Chilean wines, and the food manages to be tasty and health-conscious at the same time.Fodors
Berta’s is a welcome change from the nacho-and-fajita joints that dominate Old Town dining, though it can attract as large a crowd on weekends. Housed in a charming cottage tucked away on a side street, Berta’s faithfully recreates the sunny flavors of Central America, where slow cooking mellows the heat of chiles and other spices. Everyone starts with a basket of fresh flour tortillas and mild salsa verde, which usually vanishes before you’re done contemplating such mouthwatering dishes as Guatemalan chilimal, a rich pork-and-vegetable casserole with chiles, tomatoes, cornmeal masa, coriander, and cloves. Try the Salvadoran pupusas (at lunch only)–dense corn-mash turnovers with melted cheese and black beans, their texture perfectly offset with crunchy cabbage salad and one of Berta’s special salsas.Frommer's Favorites
This charming, intimate restaurant is often overlooked by the tourist hordes, but locals know to look for the candlelit porch with a half-dozen intimate tables. The interior is small and simple, decorated lightly in colonial Spanish style, with tiny tables. Yet, most guests prefer to eat outside for the most romantic experience. The menu offers South American cuisine. Enjoy thin-sliced Argentinean style beef or spicy, flavorful meat stews.Yahoo Travel
Berta’s is always a joyous adventure for the taste buds. I’ve driven through most of Latin America, and every few hundred miles tasted radical changes in the regional cuisines. Berta has chosen the best dishes from every country. It’s amazing that a chef can capture such a vast range of local flavor nuances so discerningly, so accurately, and so very deliciously.Naomi Wise, Food Editor and Restaurant Reviewer, San Diego Reader
For anyone who wants to explore the culinary world south of Mexico, where the food can change drastically every few hundred miles, Berta’s is a rewarding one-stop voyage of discovery. The menu features the greatest hits of three continents, from Spanish marinated lamb to earthy Guatemalan pork stew to an exuberant Brazilian seafood extravaganza. And this array is not remarkable merely for its variety, but also for the sensitivity of Berta’s cooking to the style of each region — most dishes are not only authentic, but terrifically good. The best of all of them are Berta’s renditions of the delicacies of her Chilean homeland. Her empañadas — fried packets filled with melted cheese or baked pockets with a savory ground-beef stuffing — may be the tastiest snacks in all of San Diego. And the lightness and richness of her pastel de choclo (corn, chicken, and beef pie) makes it a world-class rendition of this ultimate comfort dish.San Diego Reader Best 2001 Winner
Sampling the whole range of little-known cuisines from Guatemala down to Patagonia, Berta’s lengthy menu reads like a culinary “pick hits” list of each country’s best flavors, typically rendered with expertise and verve. Some outstanding dishes include sweet-savory Chilean pastel de choclo (a casserole of beef, chicken, and corn pudding) from Berta’s homeland, spicy ceviche and subtle seco de cordero (citrus-flavored lamb stew) from Peru, earthy Guatemalan chilemal (cilantro-laden pork stew), aromatic beef curry from Trinidad, and a sensuous vatapa (seafood in coconut sauce) from Brazil’s African-influenced Bahia coast. Vegetarians will find many meat-and-fowl-free options.San Diego Reader
While many of the Mexican restaurants play it safe and offer food on the mild side, Berta’s goes for hot and spicy. Tapas are plentiful, with Spanish olives, Chilean empanadas and stuffed Guatemalan plaintains among the offerings. Entrees range from Guatemalan chile-infused pork casserole to Argentinean rib-eye, and Brazilian seafood to Peruvian chicken, all frequently served with a spicy sauce. Meatless dishes (sauces, too) include the Costa Rican Casado (black beans and rice with sauteed bananas), the Tallarines Vatapa (pasta with Brazilian peanut coconut sauce) and a mango-avocado salad, among others. Many of the entrees are surprisingly healthful, getting most of their flavor from spices instead of fat. The wine list offers an interesting mix of Latin American options. Service is good and the servers will patiently answer all questions about unique entrees. Sit on the patio if the weather is nice.Suzanne Smith and Jennifer Croshaw, San Diego Union Tribune