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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, June 2005back to archive

The arrival of It’s admittedly a few weeks behind schedule. But, keep the faith. You’ll be neck-deep in browsable taqueria listings, burrito reviews, and mustaches mustaches mustaches in no time.

Physical Graffiti was also a little tardy due to production delays, but it turned out pretty well.

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Bite. Chew. Mull. revisits Burritoeater’s most notable taqueria drop-ins around town in May.

Looking for a one-stop for rants against salty burritos, curt replies, general SF taqueria omniscience, and meditative dabblings in Eastern philosophy? Try Dear Beano. Just don’t expect warm fuzzies from the curmudgeon.

Can’t corral that unwieldy slab? Consult our occasional feature, Corral That Unwieldy Slab. Your burrito containment skills will surely shoot through the roof at once.*

Those itching for another avocado-splattered dispatch from South Wales can quit scratching. Our newest U.K. Guac Report doubles as calamine.

And it wouldn’t be an Apocalypse without the world’s most worthless sign-off, (epilogue).

Thanks for stopping in.

(* laggard motor development notwithstanding)

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14 More Arrows in the Burritoeater Quiver

May’s unquestionable highlight was the 8.75-mustache sucker-punch we absorbed from Oceanview burrito wagon Tacos El Molcajete, while fallen bigwig Chavo’s regrouped, reasserted itself, and regained some respect. Also, Taq. Guadalajara down Excelsior way came up mostly aces.

On the flip side of the deliciousness meter, a few sorry destinations sent irritating vibes down our neckpipe. Most egregiously, Palapas Taco Bar and Victor’s each did their best to ruin the days of our visits - the former with its hot-here / cold-there burrito-constructing philosophy, and the latter by apparently tossing our dinner into the dishwater before they served it to us.

And as sweet and kind as the folks at Casa Sanchez are, we were more than a little aghast they didn’t even bother to include beans in our burrito. Nice back patio, though.

LA PARRILLA GRILL (Mission), 5/1/05, Carne Asada: 7.67 mustaches
An impressively tight wrap, archetypal super burrito dimensions, and an aromatic, full-on grilled tortilla couldn’t counteract the grand dealbreaker: maddening side-to-side temperature differences due to a stooge-endorsed ingredient mix. Initial bites prompted us to raise our hand for a high-five, but by the end, this burrito left us hanging.

TAQ. GUADALAJARA (Excelsior), 5/3/05, Super Pastor: 8.04 mustaches
This mighty tasty, smartly constructed foodpiece featured deliciously vibrant vegetables in a tightly wrapped, magnificently grilled tortilla. On the ignoble side of the ledger, the marinated, occasionally fatty pork didn’t wow us much, and the overall ingredient mix didn’t coalesce until two-thirds of the slab had disappeared. But the cheese was on target and the avocado slices were well-placed, so this burrito’s pros greatly outweighed its cons.

TACOS EL MOLCAJETE (Oceanview), 5/5/05, Super Carne Asada: 8.75 mustaches
The Molcajete crew wasn’t afraid to walk the spicy plank, as they dumped a significant amount of mega-fiery habañero into this delicious burrito - parts of this burrito were practically en fuego. Other areas besides cheese and spiciness that earned perfect ratings were temperature (often a tricky one for truck-spawned burritos) and burstage abatement. Even the refried beans went above and beyond, and the veggie content completely owned it. Mighty mighty.

CASA SANCHEZ (Mission), 5/7/05, Super Chile Verde Pork: 4.92 mustaches
How? How could they just forget to include beans? But even with a spoonful of the greatest beans in the history of epicurean culture, this burrito wouldn’t have sidestepped its own de-beaned clumsiness – an unheated tortilla, some unmelted cheese, and a distressing number of un-hot bites wouldn’t have it any other way.

VICTOR’S (South of Market / Mission Bay), 5/10/05, Super Chicken Molé: 6.17 mustaches
It’s understandable why Victor’s doesn’t call theirs a chicken molé sauce – it’s more of a chicken molé juice. Once we absorbed all the nonstop drips and drabs and realized that this burrito’s strongest point was its harmless rice, we were left grasping nothing more than a dissatisfyingly soggy foodpiece that fully deserved a demotion to the low minors. A gusher like this is nobody’s friend, other than perhaps the napkin dispenser.

360 DEGREE GOURMET BURRITOS (Downtown / Financial Dist.), 5/12/05, 360 Degree AM (Bacon/Spinach): 6.33 mustaches
It had its exceptional points (perfectly melted cheese, pillowy eggs, and flawless structural integrity), but even the bacon’s burliness was offset by woeful undersizing and the fact that every ingredient occupied its own space within the non-descript tortilla. Most disastrously, it wouldn’t be crawling out on a limb to call this the most de-spiced burrito in the history of San Francisco.

TAQ. LOS COYOTES (Mission Terrace / Crocker Amazon), 5/14/05, Super al Pastor: 7.83 mustaches
We played it safe and bypassed the moronga (pork blood) meat option on the menu for a less sanguine choice, al pastor. But sadly, the dark harbinger of inconsistent temperature issues - despite a post-construction stay in the steamer - again cast its pall over an otherwise solid Los Coyotes burrito. A few great bites, several very good ones...and some disappointingly chilly moments.

PALAPAS TACO BAR (Financial Dist.), 5/16/05, Grande Pollo: 6.25 mustaches
Palapas clearly didn’t manage to get their act together in the two years between Burritoeater visits, for drastic temperature shifts in the burrito still ran rampant, they still charge for a little bag of tortilla chips, and the well-coiffed lads at the next table still discuss professional golf. A $7.00 price tag, 6.25 mustaches, and a Styrofoam plate just don’t add up to anything remotely respectable in our book.

TORTILLA FLATS (Mission), 5/18/05, Breakfast (Bacon): 7.46 mustaches
Big, bland food. Tortilla Flats may produce one of the few breakfast burritos in town that includes rice, but such completeness still couldn’t help this stout, early-day slab get beyond its own creeping mediocrity. The problem here was just as much about what wasn’t on hand – flavor, for starters – as what was. The beans were pinto’d up to high heaven, while the guacamole we specially requested became more of a bummer with every bite on that side of the burrito.

CHAVO’S (South of Market), 5/20/05, Super Chile Verde Pork: 8.33 mustaches
Following its disastrous showing in the 2004 playoffs, this return to form was a fortunate development for this occasional powerhouse. For the most part, Chavo’s generously sized cylindri-food nailed it from start to finish, although its isolated rice pointed to some unsightly seams in the ingredient mix. The veil of embarrassment has been lifted.

OCEAN TAQ. (Ingleside), 5/22/05, Super Spicy Chicken: 7.50 mustaches
Although this burrito disappeared quickly due to its stubby confines, there were enough respectable moments here to give us enough reason to not write it off, even though it seemed like a sad inevitability halfway in. Despite Ocean’s best efforts to drain any soaked ingredients before they hit the tortilla, this slab’s outerwear nevertheless fell prey somewhat to the Soggy Scourge. But overall, it didn’t completely suck.

EL TEPA TAQ. (Mission), 5/24/05, Super al Pastor: 7.83 mustaches
As everyone’s favorite taqueria anthem, “Piano Man,” bleated from somewhere inside El Tepa, we gnawed our way through this perfectly respectable slab. This burrito’s finest attribute – its fearsome spice – made its presence known early, often, late, and even into the after-burrito glow, but the overly diced al pastor maintained an overly low profile from start to finish. Still, the pea-pelted Spanish rice was well distributed and tasty, and El Tepa’s refried beans have never been a letdown.

LA CORNETA TAQ. (Mission), 5/26/05, Super Carne Asada: 7.17 mustaches
Clumsily stubbing its toes on the deadly hardpan of temperature inconsistency, La Corneta’s work on this afternoon was a distinct disappointment, despite its delicious steak and first-rate vegetables. Several early un-hot bites spelled trouble, and it became increasingly clear that La Corneta’s delicious and peppery pico de gallo had staged a chilly coup inside the somewhat sodden tortilla; fewer crimes register more heinously in burritoland.

TONAYENSE TAQ. (Mission), 5/28/05, Super al Pastor: 7.33 mustaches
Onetime playoff contender and formerly reliable burrito purveyor Tonayense Taq. came up comparatively lame this time around - blame the pockets of half-melted cheese (despite mostly hot temperatures throughout), some seriously suspect guacamole, and an ingredient mix that, taken at cross-sectional view, resembled a compartmentalized TV dinner tray. And when we heard someone behind the counter greet a customer with a hearty “buon giorno” late in our visit, it indicated a true low for this erstwhile heavy-hitting taqueria.

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As Usual, He’s Grouchy

Questions? Hit the old bean at

This month only: Complimentary initial shoulder shrug with every reply.

Dear Beano: I'm never going to El Gran Taco again. That burrito tasted nasty. It was remarkably bad. Pure sodium. No spice either. BLECH.
Dear reader: We’re due for a visit over there later this year. We’ve never been gaffled by such sucktacularity at El Gran Taco, but we’ll head in with sewer-level expectations and take it from there.

Dear Beano: I’m sure people ask you this a lot…but, aren’t you over burritos yet?
Dear reader: No.

Dear Beano: Can you recommend a burrito place in Hayes Valley?
Dear reader: Not really. There’s Las Estrellas on Gough between Hayes and Fell, but its OMR (Overall Mustache Rating) over a pair of Burritoeater visits is a thoroughly unglamorous 6.75, and the first time we went in there in early 2003, we were nearly driven away by Wham!’s “Careless Whisper” clanging around their speaker system. It was gnarly. But given Hayes Valley’s centrality to neighboring areas that feature a few of our favorite taquerias (Duboce Triangle, and especially Lower Haight), you’re better off taking a short walk away from the neighborhood.
(Plug: will include complete taqueria listings that will be sortable by neighborhood, and even maps pinpointing the exact location of every taqueria in town. We mean business.)

Dear Beano: Is it true that if you eat enough burritos in one lifetime, you will achieve complete knowledge of all things?
Dear reader: You’re thinking of chicken satay. People who eat chicken satay three times a week for, like, 50 years eventually hold the key to the universe, as well as eternal life. Of course, they also end up hauling around pocketfuls of pointy skewers for time immemorial as well. That could hurt. We’ll take burritos.

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Improve Your Burrito Containment Skills, Reduce Your Dry-Cleaning Bill, Drink Fresca

People ask us how they can prevent their burritos from falling apart. Here are a few tips for anyone wishing to escape the slovenly, napkin-drenched barrio of sloppiness.

- Assuming you’re not going the inglorious knife-and-fork route, always request a foil wrap. Most taquerias foil-wrap by default, but a considerable fraction of SF’s burrito shops will serve you a naked slab unless you instruct them otherwise. Why? We’re not quite sure. Chintzy business acumen could be a reason.

- We’d also recommend unwrapping the foil as you move your way through the foodpiece, rather than de-foiling in one fell swoop at the outset. Who knows if there’s some sort of unsightly tortilla cleave down the tortilla? That unseen cleave could spell doomsday. Keep it under wraps as long as possible, while of course taking care to not include a new category – saran flavor – on your own burrito rating scoresheet.

- Use two hands, particularly if you’re a beginner-to-intermediate. You’re not Rickey Henderson making a snap catch, for fool’s sake. Leave the stunt-eating to the pros.

- Also, an elementary understanding of basic gravitational principles certainly won’t ever hurt the cause. Do not eat the burrito while hanging upside-down on the jungle gym at the park, or while riding the Tidal Wave down at Great America.

Burstage abatement’s a two-way street, folks. Keep it together.

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Blimey, Limey

Emily Duval Rosser chimes in from across the pond:

Cardiff's Brewery Quarter’s Chiquitos ("Authentic Mexican food since 1989") has some catching up to do to prove its authenticity. Their beanless burritos – rather, the refrieds arrived in a two-inch diameter cup on the side – required extra guacamole for compensatory flavor, and Chiquitos’ guac turned out to be watery and thin, the victim of a lime juice overdose (and perhaps a bit too much cilantro as well). At least the Chavela Vargas tunes livened things up a bit. But based on Chiquitos’ dodgy Tex-Mex cuisine, Tony Christie's "Is This the Way to Amarillo" may have been more fitting.

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List addition/removal requests, questions, comments, and/or anecdotes always welcome and encouraged:

Kindly direct news of taqueria openings, closures, or corporate fraud involvement, here:

The Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly,, and The Mustache Logo are exclusive properties of The Exploding Head Trick Publishing Co. © 2005. They're ours and you can't have them, unless perhaps you ask politely. And even then, we’ll probably charge you a six-figure licensing fee that will have you seeing stars.

Yours, in delicious horchata,