cross street: Valencia/Mission
Map Visits: 6
Shrug: rice (7); beans (7); vegetables (7); sauciness (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: spiciness (3)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)
When the only truly great thing about a burrito is its airtight construction, don’t expect heavy mustaches. Because even though our Pancho Villa burrito averted cold bites for a change, it still couldn’t shake the underachieving hellhound on its trail. What was so underachieving? Well, the rice was a shade on the dry side — actually, the entire burrito was on the dry side — while the overly creamy guacamole seemed inappropriate and the refried beans overstepped their bounds a lot of the time. What do you mean, “overstepped their bounds”? They encroached too far, they wormed their way in too often, they never allowed us to get a full sense of the juicy beef, there was simply too damn much of them. And just as we appreciated the slabmaker lady grilling our tortilla on our request, and as much as we dug the rest of the veggie ensemble’s input, we really missed the spice-kick we crave, and anyway, the cheese was just kind of weird. “Kind of weird”? That’s right, pal: “kind of weird.” And where was the intangibility that brings the zeitgeist-seeking crowds flooding into the place daily? “Zeitgeist-chasing”? And can you be more specific about this “intangibility” to which you allude? Listen, friendo, your little query-jabs are beginning to irritate. Take five before I sic Cujo over here on you. Cujo? Who’s Cujo? I don’t see anyth—
Shrug: meat (7); sauciness (7); tortilla (6)
Clang: cheese (5); temperature (4)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)
How can such a delicious, spice-fueled, elegantly mixed burrito come up so mediocre in the end? Check those ratings for cheese and temperature, and you’re getting real warm...a lot warmer than this burrito ever was, in fact. The toughest part to figure here was the cockeyed relationship between the excellent ingredient mix and all the brutally lukewarm bites, but the sad fact is that this whole damn slab could have used a trip to some sort of post-construction heating device – the grill, the steamer, a cook’s armpit, anything. And of course, with unhot temperatures usually comes unmelted cheese, and who loses when that happens? That’s right, everybody: our melted cheese-loving judges panel, our readership (who must grow weary of our grousing about the temperature issues inherent in Pancho Villa burritos), and most of all, Pancho Villa and its unremarkable Overall Mustache Rating. Sure, there was much to applaud about this dinner, from the fiery spice index and surprisingly crunchy pico de gallo (credit the unpickled jalapeño) to the tasty and unobtrusive rice. The guacamole was also a winner, but the red chile tortilla became increasingly sodden as time wore on, and although the chicken boasted a nice external char, it was a bit too pink on the inside. A tight tortilla wrap will only take a taqueria – no matter how popular - so far in the San Francisco burrito game. It’s time to turn up the heat, Mr. Villa.
Shrug: tortilla (7); cheese (7); sauciness (7); temperature (7); burstage abatement (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)
Our recent frustrations with the most celebrated slabmaker in town were happily derailed by this enjoyable dirigible. Thanks to a few improvements in areas where Pancho Villa has struggled in the past (ingredient mix and temperature, chiefly), as well as this effort’s outsized shape and exceptional veggies and carnitas, the Mission stalwart landed on the good side of eight mustaches. An exposed tear at the tortilla’s top end wasn’t a welcome sight upon the initial unfoiling, but things held together well enough to maintain a respectable bustage abatement score. As delicious and perfectly spicy as the pastor roasted salsa was, it combined with the spicy pico de gallo to create a late-slab sogspot. Conversely, a salvo of avocado slices pushed the veggie contingent’s credibility through the roof, and our first dip into this establishment’s big bowl of carnitas yielded some marvelously smoky results. Spanish rice and refried beans, though more segregated than we would have liked, also came up winners. Pancho Villa, alright.