the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, December 2011back to archive

Our 15 minutes of folk-hero fame just went into overtime. How We Manipulate the Media with Nothing More Than Mustaches has more.

Bite. Chew. Mull. condenses a year's worth of burrito-eating into a tidy little section of this newsletter. Brevity is still for the birds, though.

He's unsinkable. He's incorrigible. He won't go away. Give a grouchy hello once again to the Apocalypse's signature feature, Dear Beano.

And like a backwards-walking dog with a shaved ass, (epilogue) is really a prologue wrongly plonked at the end of this hot mess.

It's been awhile. Pull up a food.

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"Add to the list of downtrodden ingredients some thoroughly unspectacular pork and whole pinto beans, as well as a tortilla that was more pale and sticky than a Canadian who'd just rolled around in glue stick, and we had ourselves a whole lot of sub-mediocrity to deal with here."
--> Tacos San Buena (Pacific/Sansome), 11/22/2011

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Insufferably Smug, Yet Terribly Boorish's beloved monthly newsletter may have been on indefinite hiatus since late 2010, but if you interpreted that to mean that our panel had thrown in the salsa-splattered towel and quit the taqueria-coverage game, well, guess again. See Bite. Chew. Mull. below for a brief review of the year's most noteworthy burritos.

Of course, there's always more happening at Burritoeater Towers than simply burrito-eating, awkward gesturing, and blustery ballyhoo. There's also a fair amount of media glad-handing.

Last winter, we allowed clearance for Crosscurrents, San Francisco public radio station KALW's award-winning news program, to stalk us throughout our epic 2010 Slab Scrum. Executive Editor Ben Trefny's embedded coverage resulted in not only a brilliant feature on our bi-annual taqueria tournament, but also a restraining order.

Soon enough, our panel was talked into donning a completely ridiculous adhesive mustache for the bulk of our interview at Taq. La Michoacana with Rad on the Web's Carlos Rodela. Having "local folk hero" slapped under our byline at the bottom of the screen, however, was sufficient compensation. Watch it here.

Shortly after that, we eschewed any further silly disguise-stunts and simply played the role of slab sage for the Boston Globe's Russ Juskalian during his spring carpet-bombing tour of San Francisco taquerias.

And finally, once cable television came calling, who were we to shyly decline an offer to lead a TV crew around a couple of our favorite 24th St. burrito shops? Our appearance on the Cooking Channel's "United Tastes of America" is set to re-air during the first week of January, so you've got a few more chances to miss it all over again. See the schedule here.

Kudos to our in-house publicity wizards for slathering us all over the media's walls in 2011. Those 0.2% cost-of-living raises management bequeathed them last winter clearly fired them up.

Along with all this hoohaw, we've been working with Know What on a slick iPhone app that's set to hit Apple's App Store next month. We've also got a Droid app in the early stages of development.

Can you crawl and eat a burrito at the same time? If so, you're in luck, as we may have a taqueria crawl or two in the works in early 2012. Maybe we'll keep you posted.

And of course, we've got an increasingly narrow variety of Great Mustache T-shirts hogging valuable space in Burritoeater Towers' basement warehouse. So buy! Buy today! You can also buy next week. Or whenever, really. At $8-9 per T (postpaid!), one can be yours for a song -- a really cheap song. Visit our Apparel Bazaar for the fat skinny.

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"The steady trickle of minor, but annoying drips didn't help, and neither did that one guy out the door yelling "I'll mess your face up!!" at that other guy out the door."
--> Taq. Can-cún (South of Market), 4/29/2011

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890 Burrito Reviews (and Counting)

Before you start thinking that all this media adulation has gone to our heads, we haven't forgotten what grills our tortilla around here. Check our ever-active Blargh for proof that we haven't quietly exited San Francisco's slabular superhighway.

In fact, our dedicated panel of burrito nerds pounded through another 70-plus burritos throughout the past year, reviewing each foiled food with the same OCD-addled attention to detail you've come to expect over all the years. Capsule reviews of 2011's most notable slabs follow.

EL TONAYENSE (Harrison/17th St.) (Mission), 2/19/2011, Super al Pastor: 8.17 mustaches
The intangibility card here was played early and often to the tune of two bonus mustaches, even though everyone knows burritos don't actually play cards or have any sort of human characteristics whatsoever, no matter how much we sometimes like to kid ourselves that they do.

TAQ. VALLARTA (24th St.) (Mission), 3/24/2011, Super Carnitas: 8.17 mustaches
This mighty hot slab whipped out of the starting gate at a blinding-fast gallop before settling into a comfortable eight-mustache gait the rest of the way around our mustachioed oval. Grease became a bit of a factor in the backstretch, while...What's with the whole horse-racing theme here, Shoemaker? Knock it off. -Ed.

EL FARO (Mission), 4/13/2011, Super Chile Verde Pork: 8.08 mustaches
This Mission stalwart again nosed its way over our eight-mustache bar, although in time-honored El Faro fashion, we can't exactly be sure how.

LA PLAYA TAQ. (Outer Sunset), 5/12/2011, Three Pepper (Steak): 8.83 mustaches
A lengthy missile that was on-point from bite one on down. The well-grilled tortilla (and Jack/cheddar blend melted thereon) nailed every dismount off our pommel horse of slabular critical thought.

THE LITTLE CHIHUAHUA (Noe Valley), 6/19/2011, Super Carnitas: 8.58 mustaches
Continuing its succession of barely assailable burritos, El Tiny Canine reinforced its first-rate status with this entirely delicious, intangibly bullet-proof effort that had us pushing our scoresheet's eight- and nine-mustache buttons again and again.

TAQ. EL FAROLITO (Excelsior), 7/1/2011, Breakfast (Chorizo): 8.77 mustaches
This whole foiled affair was a cavalcade of inviting flavor, anchored by an ace chorizo/egg mix, marvelously melted Jack cheese, onion-rich pico de gallo that flew the veggie flag high, and refried beans that were the portrait of pasty deliciousness.

GORDO TAQ. (Inner Sunset), 7/7/2011, Super Chile Verde Pork: 9.17 mustaches
Another Gordo burrito that didn't look like much of a troublemaker from the get-go; another Gordo burrito that knew what it was doing all along, to the tune of the highest rating ever earned by this shop. Co-slab of the year, 2011.

TAQ. EL CASTILLITO (Mission), 9/11/2011, Super Carnitas: 8.75 mustaches
The element that unwittingly restrained this otherwise bitchin' burrito from our nine-mustache promised land? Good grief, it was dry at times.

TAQ. SAN JOSE (Mission), 9/18/2011, Super Pollo Adobo: 8.75 mustaches
A brilliantly grilled tortilla hinted at all the heaviosity lurking within: strongly flavorful refried beans, ever-enduring sauciness, gracefully hellacious spice, and an ingredient mix so seamless that a tailor wouldn't know where to start biting.

PAPALOTE (Mission), 10/17/2011, Super Marinated Tofu: 8.50 mustaches
Heralding an 8.50-mustache burrito from Papalote is like making a big fuss out of the New York Yankees having another winning season. And yet, irrefutable two-mustache intangibility!

LA LAGUNA TAQ. (Bayview), 11/16/2011, Super Breakfast (Chorizo): 9.17 mustaches
Three more of these to go, please. Co-slab of the year, 2011.

GORDO TAQ. (Clement) (Outer Richmond), 11/30/2011, Super Beef: 8.08 mustaches
When was the last time the Golden Gate Bridge had an off-day? How about the Beach Blanket Babylon woman with all the big hats? Hmm? We expect the best from our civic icons. 8.08 mustaches is less than the best.

CARAMBA (South of Market), 12/9/2011, Super Chile Verde Pork: 8.67 mustaches
When an ingredient ensemble is this strong and there's intangible magic in every bite, it's not too difficult to sidestep a few elemental misfires en route to major success.

TACOBAR (Pacific Heights), 12/20/2011, Especial Carne Asada: 8.50 mustaches
While Tacobar hasn't quite reached medal-winning status in San Francisco's upmarket taqueria Olympiad, this corner joint is probably closer to making the ultimate grade than you'd expect. Then we went and bought an $800 handbag a couple blocks up Fillmore.

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"Why was the pork so internally dry? What was with the scattered, but noticeably unmelted cheese? Who ordered the clams? (OK, nobody ordered the clams.)"
--> Los Compadres (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 5/16/2011

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Still Hrumphy After All These Years

Despite the hopelessly long layoff between Dear Beano editions, our very own taqueria know-it-all is still kicking -- and still a complete crank.

Brave up and send Mr. Cook a note at Complimentary grumpiness with every reply.

Dear Beano: "Stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts."
Dear Apocalypse reader: That's deep, friendo. Real deep. Next time those numbnuts over at challenge us to a Scrabble face-off, I want you on our side.

Dear Beano: Wanted to invite you out to the grand opening of a breakfast taco joint called Whirlybird in Brooklyn this weekend. On Saturday, from 4-7PM you can grab a sweet taco and hear solo sets from members of Deer Tick, Phosphorescent, and Virgin Forest.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Brooklyn? Sure, I'll just pop on over on my bike. It might be kind of cold going over the Rockies, so I might not be there until May or June. Save the last taco for me.

Dear Beano: I just checked your Mustache Chart for the first time in several months...some major shake-ups lately. La Laguna in the No. 2 slot? And this La Espiga de Oro joint in the top five? I also can't believe Andalé's as highly rated as it is. That place is just overpriced mall food.
Dear Apocalypse reader: La Laguna is completely legit, so is La Espiga de Oro, and Andalé wins our best-burrito-in-worst-location competition. I'd rather spend $9.75 there than on a shoehorn at Bloomingdale's upstairs.

Dear Beano: Regarding your recent review of El Burrito Express on Divisadero St, I was a little confused to see you give a shrug to the rice as you rave about the refried beans in the Super Bronco burrito. Confused because the Bronco Burritos (super or not) do not contain rice and use "pot beans" (whole and stewed in their own "gravy") instead of refrieds. I thought this was a bit unusual, so i scrolled down and noticed that almost all your El Burrito Express reviews are for the Super Bronco -- and most of them mention rice and refried beans.

Now, I understand you like rice in your burritos. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and if you're running a burrito review site, you have more of that right than anyone else. Fair enough. But, El Burrito Express has a Super burrito that contains both rice and refried beans. I would think that, being the rice-eaters you are, you would order what you like rather than what you don't. And yet, among ten reviews, only two of them (both from 2005) are of El Burrito Express' Super burrito.

So I must ask you: Did you order "off the menu"? Did you request rice to be added, and refrieds rather than the pot beans? You state in your FAQ that a lack of rice will result in a 0 for the rice category. But you give it a 7. So there must have been rice. Is that a fair way to judge? Especially considering that there is an option made just for you -- the Super!

The Bronco burrito and Super Bronco burrito are very special burritos, made just the way some people like them: no rice, pot beans, avocado slices instead of guacamole, and no sour cream. I don't know the current name for that style -- I have heard them called "Veracruz," but I have never been there, so I don't know -- but it is something I really like. It's neither too filling nor overly gloppy.

But if that's not the way you like your burritos, by all means get the Super burrito. To order the Super Bronco and alter its perfection is a little unfair. It would be like going to a place noted for its wonderful vegetarian burritos, adding carnitas (because that's what you like), swapping out something else, then subtracting points because it wasn't quite right...even when they have a carnitas burrito on the menu.

Oddly, though, I'm torn. If you give the Super Bronco a 0 for rice, it would lower the Overall Mustache Rating. I'm not sure how it would go if you rated the Super Burrito. Apparently, you aren't so much of a fan of those (since you would rather order something you don't care for [and then adulterate it] than order what you claim to prefer), and it would also lower the OMR.

So, in sum, are you showing a bias towards this place? I don't know. I like it very much, but for exactly the things you claim not to like. Hence my confusion.

Either that, or you just have the name of the burrito wrong.

Thanks for the site! I really appreciate it, despite our occasional difference of opinion.

Dear Apocalypse reader: Sure, OK.

Dear Beano: Where've you guys been lately? Will there ever be another Apocalypse? I pay good money for my subscription!
Dear Apocalypse reader: You never know, do you? Maybe we don't, either.

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Please forward freely, yet responsibly.

Take a walk.

Newsletter subscription addition/removal requests, questions, comments, and/or anecdotes always welcome:

Water your plants.

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

Opt for refried beans.

Now for this month's hidden bonus track.

May I mambo dogface to the banana patch?

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

Happy 2012.

Yours, in delicious horchata,