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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, November 2008back to archive

Bite. Chew. Mull. recaps the highs and lows of another month trawling the San Francisco taqueria tiles.

Dear Beano gets up on it, then gets down with it.

Don't get your hopes up for seeing This Month In Burrito-Producing Sports Taverns in each month's Apocalypse.

This new Obstinate Reader Commentary totally sounds like early Bowie.

Finally: (epilogue)! Everything is better now.

Pull up a food.

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Eat Your Heart Out,

Nearly half of our nine October taqueria visits were to fresh-faced burrito retailers about town. One dutifully impressed (Los Compadres); two others produced flawed, but fine enough slabs (Curbside Taq., El Balazo); and one basically took a rocket to hell (Golden State Market). Elsewhere, Taq. La Paz and El Farolito on 24th St. turned out unilaterally delicious efforts, while the usually dependable Chavo's delivered an al fresco clunker.

TAQ. EL FAROLITO (24th St.) (Mission), 10/1/2008, Super al Pastor: 8.42 mustaches
Heaping helpings of grilled onion and sliced avocado, for no additional fee.

TAQ. GUADALAJARA (Excelsior), 10/4/2008, Super Chile Verde (Pork): 7.75 mustaches
Intangible credibility resolutely held forth, despite this fiercely spiced burrito's mildly disappointing rating.

CURBSIDE TAQ. (Cow Hollow), 10/7/2008, Super Home Carnitas: 7.67 mustaches
The veggies got by, the pale rice was merely there, and the tortilla was the portrait of adequacy. Then we took Frank the Poodle to the dog spa around the way.

CHAVO'S (South of Market), 10/10/2008, Super Carne Asada: 7.42 mustaches
Interstate 80’s western terminus deserves better!

EL BALAZO (Mission), 10/13/2008, Super Chile Verde (Pork): 7.75 mustaches
San Francisco's newest self-proclaimed taqueria "legend" sidestepped woeful temperature deficiencies and scads of unmelted cheese on the way to an ultimately respectable rating.

TAQ. SAN JOSE (Mission), 10/16/2008, Super Chile Relleno: 7.81 mustaches
Taq. San Ho's chile relleno slab managed to convey the sort of emotional clarity that can only come from a deep-fried, cheese-stuffed vegetable.

TAQ. LA PAZ (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 10/20/2008, Super Pollo en Salsa Roja: 8.58 mustaches
The tortilla sported the toasty effects of two stints on the kitchen’s tiny grill-press. Yes! Slab of the Month, October 2008.

GOLDEN STATE MARKET (Excelsior), 10/26/2008, Super Pollo Asado: 6.75 mustaches
Zero mustaches for intangibility? Really? No wonder, since the remarkably tasteless Spanish rice simulated the texture of either driftwood or porridge, depending on the bite.

LOS COMPADRES (Tehama) (South of Market), 10/28/2008, Super al Pastor: 8.17 mustaches
A strong debut from this slabwagon semi-hidden in the South of Market shadows.

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"Salty Old Guy" Alert

He's bad, he's citywide. He's our 94-year-old taqueria sage, Beano Cook, and he's still as ornery as the day he got off the truck from Turlock back in '32 to learn "the grift" along the Embarcadero.

You've got questions about San Francisco taquerias. He's got gruff replies. Take aim:

Dear Beano: Have you seen this new anti-drug campaign? If you sort of turn your head and squint, it seems to be making it look as if burrito enthusiasts are a bunch of bong-sucking dummies.
Dear Apocalypse reader: I'm looking at that poster straight-on with my eyes wide open, and it seems to be making it look as if burrito enthusiasts are, indeed, a bunch of bong-sucking dummies. D.A.R.E. to keep eating burritos, I say.

Dear Beano: I was watching this show about a struggling restaurant trying to get back on track. At one point, a well-known food critic came in and everyone got anxious and excited. And I got to wondering if you've ever been "made" at any of the taquerias you frequent. If yes, how does it go down? Is it like, Oh my gosh, look who's here! Let's come together as a team and make the best darn burrito in burrito history! Or is it more like, That douchebag with the burrito Web site is here again.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Well, I had a meat cleaver hurled at me one time by a particularly surly burritotista. But most of the time, I'm showered with tubs of horchata, like I just coached a team to the Rose Bowl or something. Very flattering. Once I got a free small basket of chips.

Dear Beano: Hey, Thanksgiving is coming up again, and I just want to say that burritos are definitely something to be thankful for.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Agreed. How come more taquerias don't serve turkey burritos? Those seem to be even more rare than chimichangas in San Francisco.

Dear Beano: Any other Web site ideas percolating there at Exploding Head Trick?, perhaps?
Dear Apocalypse reader: Nah,'s been bought and parked. Doesn't interest us much anyway. But rumor has it that the team of geniuses upstairs here at Burritoeater Towers is hatching a plot to create a site devoted to reviewing mustaches and rating them in burritos. So stay tuned.

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A Highly Irregular Feature, Profiling Burrito-Producing Sports Taverns Around San Francisco

The Taco Shop at Underdogs
Outer Sunset
1824 Irving
cross street: 19th Ave.
ph. 415/566-8700
Will My Health Be Violated?

6.75 mustaches

Swish: ingredient mix (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); meat (9); cheese (9); vegetables (9)
Shrug: size (6); beans (6)
Clang: tortilla (5); sauciness (5); spiciness (1); rice (0)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

(The Taco Shop at Underdogs isn't fit for inclusion among’s taqueria listings – for more on our counter service vs. table service policy, see the FAQ. However, this doesn’t preclude our judges panel from giving the Sunset’s newest burrito purveyor the once-over in the more spacious digs of the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly.)

Seamlessly integrated into the breathable, moisture-wicking fabric of Underdogs Sports Bar on Irving near 19th Ave., the Taco Shop at Underdogs is Nick Fasanella's new kitchen. Fasanella is the man behind the original incarnation of ever-popular Nick’s Crispy Tacos, and while he hasn’t been involved with his namesake Russian Hill spot for awhile now, he’s decided to bring his game to Underdogs after putting in some time at Tortilla Heights on Divisadero.

Fasanella has always placed a particularly heavy emphasis on his excellent tacos, and with good reason: A taco made “Nick’s Way” is a La Taqueria-esque joy, even going one clever step further by adding a crispy corn tortilla as the outermost wrap. These are highly recommended.

But as was the case under his watch at Nick's Crispy Tacos, Fasanella’s burritos remain an acquired taste, where certain elements bash 450-foot home runs while others whiff on three straight pitches. We’ll be the first to admit that the issues we take with Fasanella-style burritos – zero rice, add-your-own spice, pinto beans, a steamed tortilla, slender sizing - are philosophical in terms of what may or may not be “appropriate” for a burrito, particularly in burrito-mad San Francisco. Our panel just happens to go for Spanish rice, multiple options for beans, kitchen-added spiciness, grilled tortillas, and chubby burrito dimensions.

Our slab emerged from the kitchen surprisingly lengthy, but nearly as flat as Iowa. Telltale signs of a steamed tortilla (pallid appearance, irritating stickiness) started things off on the wrong foot, but our grouchiness was instantly assuaged by the burrito’s dexterous mix of ingredients – everything from wonderfully lumpy guacamole and thin slices of purple onion (!) to one of the Taco Shop kitchen’s signature weapons, its devastatingly tomato-rich pico de gallo. The carnitas, meanwhile, were prepared the way purists crave: subtly crispy on the outside, richly flavorful all around, despite a modicum of grease. Jack cheese provided an ideal adhesion-barrier between burrito central and the sadly gummy tortilla, but the pinto beans never came close to winning us over.

Salsa appeared not inside our burrito, but rather on our picnic-style table in the form of a trio of plastic squeeze bottles – acceptable condiment presentation at any given burger joint, but not at even the most informal of taquerias. Granted, the habañero concoction in the red ketchup bottle was all-business fiery and delicious, but we prefer when the taqueria kitchen handles spicing duties.

We appreciated our burrito for what it was – mighty tasty at times, adroitly mixed, smartly constructed, with wall-to-wall hot bites – but we couldn’t help but miss all that was absent-on-principle.

(Of note: Excellent chips, served thick and warm under a heaping bed of pico de gallo. Breakfast available on weekends. Much beer available. Credit cards accepted. TVs, TVs, TVs. Centipede and Ms. Pac Man arcade games present and accounted for. Mighty friendly servers.)

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Shout Up

"Join our vibrant community discussion today! We're waiting to hear your thoughts on the San Francisco taqueria scene -- the LIVELIEST, most EXCITING taqueria scene in the country!! Where every burrito is a gold-plated masterpiece!!!"

That's why we don't outsource our copywriting.

Go ahead, take a whack:

(Comments may be edited for spelling, clarity, and/or brevity at our editorial staff's discretion.)

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"Here's a tip: If you see peas and carrots in the rice, walk away. Can't trust a taqueria that tries to serve you some pilaf steez rolled in a tortilla. La Corneta in Glen Park pulls this on the daily. You've given them high scores, too!"

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"Most Esteemed Burritoeater, it has come to our attention that your magnificence has not made its way to the top of the hill in Bernal Heights to partake in our local fare. We most highly recommend you visit our taqueria, Tacos Los Altos, which as its name suggests, sits at such an altitude as to keep undesirables from spoiling its ambiance. In the meantime, please continue your remarkable intestinal fortitude."
(Tacos Los Altos became a sit-down joint around 2005, so it doesn't merit inclusion on; our FAQ addresses this bylaw in greater detail. Thanks for the kind words. No need to address us as if we're kings and the year is 1741, though. -Ed.)

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"Fillmore Mexican Grill needs to go away. I'm infuriated that stupid Yelpers ride for that place. Chinese hot sauce at a taqueria?! I hate Yelp."

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Kindly direct news of taqueria openings, closures, or name-changes here:

Yup, old Jed's a millionaire alright.

Now for this month's hidden bonus track.

The Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly,, and The Great Mustache logo are brought to you by The Exploding Head Trick Publishing Co.

Yours, in delicious horchata,