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Rancho Grande, El Western AdditionOMR: 8.27
855 Divisadero
cross street: McAllister
ph. 415/6SF-TACO
Map Visits: 3
The Western Addition’s newest burrito retailer is a refreshingly earthy, down-home affair in comparison to so many other upmarket taquerias that opened around town circa 2009-10. Indeed, the Big Ranch been an instant hit in this increasingly hipsterfied neighborhood — maybe the burnt-yellow walls and late hours (and real late hours on weekends) play a role, although it’s more likely that the roasted peppers and delectably grilled tortillas are the X-factors bringing them in. Breakfast, bottled beer, and smiley service available. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

06/14/12Super Carne Asada$7.458.42 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (10); burstage abatement (10); rice (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: cheese (7); ingredient mix (7)
Clang: beans (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Severely under-profiled refried beans and a few seven-mustache misgivings aside, this was one hell of a good burrito, with a level of intangible charm that most taquerias would trade their gold-plated avocado-slicer for. Even if the ingredient mix wasn't quite where it should have been (a development that resulted in small pockets of unmelted cheese and a few — but only a few — unhot bites), our panel agreed that El Rancho Grande isn't all that far off the mustachioed pace set by its veteran Western Addition taqueria competition. The fragrant, hopelessly-grilled-to-perfection tortilla recalled the wizardry of La Espiga de Oro, while the rice was a surprisingly moist and flavorful hit. By the time all the foil hit the burrito basket, our meal's level of spiciness had wound us up in all the right ways, and the juicy carne asada made no enemies, either. Just how it ought to be, no?

10/12/11Super Pollo BBQ$6.958.17 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); beans (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: rice (7); cheese (7); ingredient mix (7); vegetables (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Barbecue sauce? In a burrito? What’ll they think of next?! Roast pork? Stand back! — El Rancho Grande’s kitchen is thinking outside the usual bullring of meat offerings. Our lengthy slab was intangibly rich and heavy on business-meaning spice, but what set it apart more than anything else was the saucy-poultry centerpiece, which made our eight-mustache grade throughout. Major kudos as well to the top-notch refried beans, which hit home early and often, and the consistent run of hot bites and airtight construction. Underperforming elements? Sure, there were a few. The relatively weak veggie contingent consisted of some pico de gallo, overcreamy/underchunky guacamole, and the all-too-occasional diced onion. The rice elicited no shortage of shrugs, while the melted cheese was as globby as...hmm, we’re not sure how to end that sentence. But it was real globby, OK?

08/19/10Super al Pastor$6.958.08 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); size (9); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9); tortilla (8); beans (8); vegetables (8); temperature (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: rice (7); meat (6); cheese (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

The one-mustache intangibility rating here says scads more than this deceptively drab burrito’s Overall Mustache Rating. Yes, our dinner dirigible was mightily sized and boasted an effective ingredient mix; sure, it was sauced to the nines and took no spicy prisoners. Peel away all the faceless eight-mustache element ratings, however, and you get dry, steam-tabled pork; clumped (albeit somewhat-melted) cheese; slab-wide temperatures that should have been higher; low-end burstage that made for some awkward dining moments; and finally, less indefinable allure than we’ve come to expect from San Francisco burrito houses over all these years. Kind of a baffling burrito, really. Kudos to the kitchen for jamming some jalapeños in, though.