It was a typical Thursday night function at 5andaDime when I had bumped into Chris Aure of Zarlitos Family Restaurant. I had never met the man before, but his restaurant was all too familiar to me. I had remembered seeing the restaurant as a child, back when I used to attend mass at the church nearby. As we got to know each other, Chris began telling me the history of the restaurant, as well as what made his food a staple within the community. It wasn’t long before he invited me over to the restaurant to try out some of his best dishes.


For those who don’t know, Zarlitos has been described as a “national gem” in National City for over 20 years, and for good reason. This restaurant is known for their Fil-Am and Chinese cuisine, but lately has attracted a new and larger crowd because of Chris’ special “Z-MEX” menu. “Z-MEX” or Zarlitos-Mexican is Chris’s personal take on Filipino food fused with Mexican cuisine.


On our trip there, Iris and I ordered the California-style Burrito with Beef Tapa, as well as the Beef-Steak fried rice. As I took my first bite out of the burrito, I was amazed at how well all the flavors complimented each other. It was as if all the ingredients were carefully thought out before hand, and proportioned appropriately to accent the meat and spices. It had to be the tastiest burritos I have ever eaten. Period.


The Beef-Steak fried rice was just as delicious. Personally, I’m a big fan of caramelized onions and garlic fried rice, and this dish was the perfect way to combine the two. Add two fried egg’s on top and you’re good to go.


Our meals were accompanied with a special salsa type sauce which went well with both dishes (Although I believe it was intended for my burrito).


The Calamansi juice that I had was a great pairing with food that we ordered.


After finally experiencing Zarlito’s, I was a bit regretful that I had not come by to try their food sooner. If you want try food on the Z-MEX menu, it’s only available during certain times during certain days. I guess good things really do come to those who wait. Zarlito’s is also open very late on Friday’s and weekends in case you’re looking for some good food after the club.

I would also like to give a big thanks to Chris Aure for the personal invite. He says I gotta try the Sisig Burrito the next time I come in, and I’m looking forward to it very soon.