the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, April 2005back to archive
Welcome. In this month’s blargh:

- In Our Domain: Website Update
- The Slabs of March: Last Month’s Taqueria Visits
- Keep Your Dolgellau Out of My Gwynedd: Guacamole Reports From Our Welsh Bureau
- Dear Beano: Letters to the Apocalypse

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Remains Available

The website? It’s on the way. We’re aiming for next month. For the time being, there’s this:

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The Pope Was a Carnitas Man

With the imminent arrival of and its complete archive of past taqueria visits, we plan to increasingly ease back down on the number of full reviews included in the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly. However, we’ll always publish certain pertinent information here regarding each of our taqueria visits from the previous month. It’s the least we can do. Because once the reader starts getting screwed, it won’t be long before that horchata-and-flan slush fund of ours runs its course.

As for our March taqueria travels, the unquestionable highlight was our run-in with an outta-nowhere nine-mustacher at El Burrito Express in the Western Addition. Lowlight? Those three straight six-somethings in the month’s first week had us on the ropes.

FISHERMAN’S WHARF DELI & TAQ. (Fisherman’s Wharf) , 3/2/05, Breakfast (Bacon): 6.00 mustaches
Before you make a move toward the Wharf, you may want to ask yourself how much guaca-cream you can stomach. A complete absence of spice, some awfully thin refried beans, and a few scoops of criminally bland pico de gallo also helped write this undersized breakfast burrito’s sub-mediocre epitaph. And if that weren’t enough, slightly thin eggs and several minor tortilla cleaves were endured throughout. Nice tortilla, though.

HERNANDEZ TAQ. & BAKERY (Visitacion Valley), 3/4/05, Super Carne Asada: 6.58 mustaches
This alarmingly flat, loosely wrapped slab wasn’t a complete catastrophe, but its perilously divided ingredient ensemble ensured a sorry amount of sub-warm bites, courtesy of cold (but tasty) guacamole and sadly de-peppered pico de gallo. How much do cold bites bum us out? THIS MUCH.

TAQ. EL NUEVO FAROLITO (Mission Terrace) , 3/6/05, Super Carne Asada: 6.00 mustaches
Big, warm food. The absence of guacamole and sauce of any sort – unless your idea of sauce is grease – sent this burrito careening down the slippery slope of dinner-hour disappointment. With every bite of this parched monstrosity, we saw more and more palm-strewn oases in the distance turn to nothing more than sandy piles. A thirsty-looking Wile E. Coyote walked by the window, and even the camel we rode in on looked totally bummed. You're probably better off at the Popeye’s Chicken next door. This one capped a rough week of burrito eating.

LUNA TAQ. (South of Market) , 3/8/05, Super Pollo Rojo: 8.00 mustaches
The Luna burrito proved itself fairly steady-truckin’, from its sizable chunks of (actually spicy) chicken and well-grilled tortilla to its sucker-punching jalapeño slices and firm grasp of Spanish rice / refried beans fundamentals. Forgivable were the few odd slices of highly spiced carrot. Carrot, man!

CASA MEXICANA (Duboce Triangle / Castro) , 3/10/05, Super Carnitas: 7.00 mustaches
This burrito’s lack of kick was particularly galling, considering how this short, squishy, yet girthsome foodpiece was more sauced up than Foster Brooks out on an all-day bender with the publishers of Modern Drunkard. Still, the twin pillars of Spanish rice and refried beans were absolutely Johnny-on-the-slab delicious, and some ace construction counterbalanced concerns about the seemingly delicate tortilla. But when the first bite’s lukewarm and many of the rest aren’t much hotter, it’s usually trouble time.

PANCHO’S (Polk Gulch) , 3/12/05, Carnitas: 6.42 mustaches
Watch as Pancho’s dances the ol’ kill-’em-with-spice softshoe. Instead of drowning a lousy, flavorless, and undersized burrito in saucy fire, why not just serve only tacos? They seem so much easier to make. Token positive comment? It was a very warm burrito. Diner beware!: Their cheap pitchers of Tecate greatly enhance the likelihood of an instant frat party breaking out at the next table, and that’s not okay.

EL BURRITO EXPRESS (Western Addition) , 3/15/05, Super Chile Verde Pork: 9.00 mustaches!
Who knew? Here’s proof that titanically delicious burritos aren’t bound by Potrero on the east and Guerrero on the west. The rundown on El Burrito Express’ Tuesday night blind-siding: manhandling girth, daunting length; a completely perfect tortilla, grilled just to the point of flakiness; quite fine and moist pork, albeit nothing to run screaming through the night about; Spanish brown rice that held one side of the fort, and pasty ’n’ tasty refried beans that anchored the other; melted yellow cheddar at every glance along the tortilla’s interior wall; spice that was more than respectable, with wall-to-wall sauciness that left not a dry bite in the house; and a spot-on mix that brought the best out of each ingredient, from the first hot bite to the last hot bite (all hot bites!). Nothing truly clanged, nothing at all.

CAFÉ VENUE (Downtown – Market St.) , 3/17/05, Breakfast (Bacon): 8.27 mustaches
How comically wee was this otherwise excellent morning mini-slab? Gone-in-11-bites wee. Most impressive was the inclusion of jalapeños, which put the boot squarely in our spice-grill. Digging a bit deeper, the eggs were exceptional, the potatoes played a pivotal, delicious role, and the melted cheese was downright perfect. Every ingredient onboard was on-point. We didn’t even miss the absence of beans. Next time we’ll order a pair.

TAQ. CAN-CÚN (Civic Center / Downtown) , 3/19/05, Super Al Pastor: 7.25 mustaches
This burrito stumbled early and often, hog-tied by dry rice, overly tangy pork marinade, and a level of greasiness rivaling that of any given pomade factory. Meanwhile, some sort of bizarre ingredient-mixing stunt on the assembly line bunched all the pork and cilantro together. Of course, Can-cún can always be counted on for delicious vegetable inclusions – avocado slices and chopped onion led the way here – and to its credit, this burrito’s loads of melted cheese wanted nothing to do with all the greasy silliness. But still.

TAQ. EL FAROLITO (Mission – 24th St./Alabama) , 3/22/05, Super Carne Asada: 7.42 mustaches
Did El Farolito really back up the rice truck and dump its entire payload into our lunch? Or did it just seem that way? Whatever the cause behind this burrito’s grain fetish, it was as dry as the L.A. River, albeit with a much more tactical display of burstage abatement deployment. So, which ingredients were stars-by-default in this long, slender, indifferently mixed, grilled tortilla-swathed, cylindrical foodpiece? (Insert shrug here.)

TAQ. SAN JOSE (North Beach) , 3/24/05, Super Pollo Adobado: 7.33 mustaches
Other than some infallible construction tactics, no elements were particularly outstanding here – the tortilla could have stood a good grilling, only certain sections were properly sauced, and spice would have been a total washout without the bits of jalepeño interspersed. Early concerns as to the chicken’s integrity soon gave way – nice chicken here, sure. Cheese was three-fourths melted, but who’s measuring? Kind of a frustrating eat.

EL CASTILLITO (Mission) , 3/27/05, Super Pastor: 8.25 mustaches
Success in the face of adversity: El Castillito’s traditionally on-the-money standby – a beautifully grilled, cheese-lined tortilla – wasn’t fully on its game, but the tortilla was nevertheless nicely flaky and the tasty adhesive was still melted. Mighty meaty: lots of pork on hand, and it was all real well barbecued. Half-and-half: the burrito’s polarized ingredient mix eventually gave way to a more integrated ensemble. Solid fundamentals: a fine foundation of refried beans and brown rice held the fort. Oh come on: we didn’t appreciate the limp, half-arsed spice effort here. You are forgiven: grease factor remained quite harmless throughout. Mucho perfecto: 25 hot bites!

LA CORNETA (Glen Park) , 3/29/05, Super Pollo En Salsa Roja: 7.92 mustaches
We always enjoy La Corneta’s excellent, pea-inclusive Spanish rice – it’d be a fine (if austere) dish in its own right. And anytime a burrito’s this long and hefty, someone behind the counter is doing something right. But temperature inconsistencies reared up here, with the usual cause being the unfortunate bypassing of the post-construction steamer, and the expected result was more un-melted cheese than we’d have preferred.

EL FARO (Downtown / Financial District – 1st St.) , 3/31/05, Super Breakfast (Bacon/Chorizo/Ham): 7.42 mustaches
What we found inside our breakfast slab’s tortilla (which, incidentally, required a good grilling it didn’t receive): approximately 80 acre-feet of spicy, but overly thin sauce that probably prompted some inquisitive looks when our incessant slurping reached a crescendo; a few good-sized slices of jalapeños; a near-phenomenal little omelette, hampered only by some overly under-the-radar ham, chorizo, and bacon; and most egregiously, not one cottonpickin’ vegetable. Come ahhhn.

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Initial Avocado Shipments Arrive in Powys, Machynlleth, and Betws-y-Coed; Bron-Yr-Aur to Enter Fray at Later Date

Emily Duval Rosser reports from Cardiff, Wales:

Let's establish a few guac basics first.

Good guacamole should be made with ripe avocados, and no large clumps should survive the mashing. The fruit must be ripe enough to be smooth-ish, but not disturbingly smooth. The only real chunks should be added ingredients such as tomato, garlic, onion, etc.

Excellent guacamole will contain the above, plus cumin powder and a faint tasting of jus du limon.

Superior guac should not be preserved with layers of mayonnaise. It should be squirted with extra lemon juice to keep it from going brown during refrigerated storage. A thin layer of mayo might be needed for prolonged storage, but no more than a thin layer.

We visited a pair of Cardiff eateries whose menus include guacamole.

American-style diner offering a huge selection of both beef and veggie burgers. Their Mexican burger includes onion, tomato, and (probably homemade) guac, which features a nice texture - smooth, but not too smooth - and isn’t too heavy on the garlic. Very light amount of mayo detected. No cumin, but nice tomato chunks. (8.00 mustaches)

Craving nachos, we slummed it and visited the Hard Rock. Their guac was adequate at best, with garlic powder, freeze-dried onion, and too much mayo detectible. The avocado didn't taste at its peak of ripeness. All that, and it bordered on that disturbingly smooth texture. (7.00 mustaches)

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Wherein We Turn It Over to Our In-House Taqueria Sage, Beano Cook

The next clown who e-mails me one of those “virtual stink-bombs” gets their ass run up the Civic Center flagpole by me personally. And nobody’s gonna salute.

Say hello here:

Dear Beano: Wasn’t there a TV football analyst years ago named Beano Cook?
Beano replies: Maybe, but that’s not me. Football’s for stooges who eat wraps. I said it.

Dear Beano: How many times do you anticipate the word “slab” appearing on
Beano replies: Anywhere between 4000-5000, roughly. I’m totally serious about this.

Some of us were thinking we’d call the site if the domain was already taken.

Dear Beano: I was on my way back from a camping trip up north and stopped for a late lunch in Santa Rosa, where they have one of those High Tech Burrito places. It kind of sucked.
Beano replies: Bay Area chain High Tech Burrito hasn’t bothered trying to break into the San Francisco market, to the complaint of virtually nobody. The High Tech mucky-mucks probably realize there’s already a wealth of upper-scale “fresh!” taquerias in this town that cater primarily to white people who had their taste buds removed in grade school along with their tonsils.

Dear Beano: Blargh.
Beano replies: Come on man, we went through this in last month’s newsletter.

Dear Beano: Will taquerias pay you for their listings on Burritoeater? What do you see as the site’s primary source of revenue? Will it eventually move toward a subscription-based model?
Beano replies: These people couldn’t pick us out of a police line-up. And that’s fine with us – our policy is to not accept any bribes or “advertising offers” (not that anyone’s ever made us an offer). Our field work is done totally undercover. Sometimes it’s even done undercover of the night.

As for your other two questions - congratulations on getting your MBA.

Dear Beano: My dog seems to enjoy chicken most. Al pastor, not so much.
Beano replies: There’s a guy in the East Bay who goes by Al Pastor. He was on a mission awhile back to visit all the taco wagons in Oakland – there’s like 40 of them, or more.

I once heard that Steve Vai had a vegetarian dog.

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Yours, in delicious horchata,