cross street: 29th St./30th St.
Map Visits: 3
Shrug: rice (7); cheese (7); vegetables (7); ingredient mix (7); temperature (7); tortilla (6)
Clang: meat (5); sauciness (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)
A couple elements of this extra-lengthy slab maintained credibility throughout — namely the hard-working spice and a set of refried beans that saw a great need and filled it. Then there were aspects that played the game for adequacy’s sake, like the facelessly effective Spanish rice, good-enough (and melted-enough) Jack cheese, conciliatory ingredient mix, and acceptable level of intangibility. The cactus-laden (?!) veggie ensemble also got by, although its heavy cilantro abuse and lack of guacamole hurt its cause top to bottom. But what really rankled our rancorous judges panel was this burrito’s overly moist environs — a development that made for some downright soggy tortilla conditions — and most egregiously, repeated cartilage discoveries among the otherwise fine pork. Repeated cartilage discoveries. Repeated! Disgusting, gruesome, sick, and wrong, not to mention hard on the dentures. Unacceptable.
Shrug: meat (7); beans (7); cheese (7); sauciness (7); temperature (7); tortilla (6); rice (6)
Clang: ingredient mix (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)
Often times, pastor can dominate a burrito like no other meat. La Alteña’s hella marinated pork staged a violent flavor coup - the likes of which we’ve rarely experienced - within this gargantuan slab, and while we enjoyed the greasy meat and all the grilled onion mixed therein, it was a bit much to absorb at times. It certainly received preferred treatment amidst the sorrily haphazard, highly segregationist ingredient mix. Add in a tortilla that suffered from limpness here and there, a set of somewhat lifeless refried beans, and brown rice that got buried in the whole shuffle, and what we had in our hands was an infernally spicy and enormous piece of foiled food that, while swashbuckling and exciting in moments of rare cohesiveness, dealt in nearly as much misguided overabundance as this sentence. Of course, as usual, we devoured the whole thing.
Shrug: ingredient mix (7)
Clang: beans (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)
Quite the debut. Its sole Achilles heel being a lack of beany input, this lengthy foiled torpedo still notched eight-and-a-half mustaches with style and ease. If the grilled-to-flaky tortilla wasn’t turning heads on the Mission St. sidewalk outside, then the pull-no-punches melted jack was certainly causing people to crash into one another. The perfect streak of hot bites was also cheered enthusiastically by passers-by who otherwise had no clue what was going on inside La Alteña. The deliciously salted pork drove its point home all slab long, and while the ingredient mix may have been a little more meat-tastic than it needed to be, those seven mustaches were no gift. Were it not for the ongoing saucy leak (minor as it was), burstage abatement would have joined cheese and temperature in our ten-mustachioed penthouse. Rice was definitely on-point, but sadly, its foundation counterpoint – a shy smattering of refried beans – were far under-represented and never managed to contribute much to this slab’s story. La Alteña’s pico de gallo and guacamole each performed well, and the salsa verde provided subtle, persistent spice-punch. Finally, intangibility should be expecting a repair bill for the hole in this taqueria’s roof any day now.