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Zorro, Taq. North BeachOMR: 7.51
308 Columbus
cross street: Broadway/Grant
ph. 415/392-9677
Map Visits: 6
With giant neon lighting front and center over its entrance, this longtime North Beach slabbery clearly grasps the primary marketing concept of San Francisco’s "naughtiest" neighborhood: Brighten it up by glamming it up. Once inside, explore the rear dining area decorated with futbol trophies, standard taqueria-issue beer ads, blaring television, Internet jukebox, and a colorful mural depicting four lovely maidens and a growling leopard lounging next to lily-strewn waters. Enjoy potatoes? Both the Zorro burrito and Zorro nachos include fries; the roasted vegetable-laden salsa Zorro is also worth looking into. Credit cards accepted. Delicious breakfast and bottled beer available. Lap dances and private booths not available. Open real late.

Will My Health Be Violated?

12/15/11Chile Relleno$9.107.55 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); spiciness (9); size (8); tortilla (8); rice (8); vegetables (8); sauciness (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: cheese (7)
Clang: ingredient mix (5); beans (3)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

While a sizable handful of elements performed strongly here, overall excellence was nowhere near to be had. Of course, scads of unmelted Jack cheese grates and an ineffective ingredient mix will do that to a slab. How ineffective? So ineffective that the refried beans didn’t appear until the far hind end, a few cool bites prevailed, and the sometimes-smooth-and-buttery rice often wasn’t so smooth-and-buttery. Our panel graciously acknowledged the grilled tortilla, chunky avocado slices ($1.25 extra), heavy-duty spiciness, and extra-shiny foil (OK, this last one didn’t really much matter); also kindly note that the panela cheese inside the chile relleno centerpiece was indeed fully melted, while the relleno itself anchored a solid veggie contingent. Intangible charm, however, was lacking.

09/16/08Super al Pastor$6.957.42 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); burstage abatement (9); meat (8); rice (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); beans (7); spiciness (7); temperature (7); cheese (6); vegetables (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Zorro’s fortunes again tumbled down into mediocrity’s chasm, thanks to a number of middling elements: a suspect ingredient mix that rarely allowed the veggie contingent an opportunity to mingle with other in-tortilla partygoers; temperature dips, a by-product of said iffy ingredient mix; scattered unmelted grates of jack cheese, a victim of that very same poor heat distribution; and, overly creamy guacamole, which still would have been a grousing point even in the best-mixed, hottest, melted-cheesiest burrito around. Hulking girth made a hell of an introduction, but the tortilla showed signs of having been steamed, and despite our request to the contrary, spice remained fully corrigible throughout. We enjoyed Zorro’s barbecue pork (accompanied by heavily grilled onion), and appreciated the way it kept its own grease in check. Spanish rice included corn kernels and peas – colorful! – while the pale but pasty refried beans were facelessly adequate. Through all 21 bites, intangibility came up short. Anything else? No, nothing really.

10/20/07Breakfast (al Pastor)$7.208.55 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); beans (9); vegetables (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); eggs (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); spiciness (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

In a garbled attempt to tailor-order this foiled food to our grouchy panel’s exacting specifications, one question didn't get asked at the counter: And can you add cheese to that? Curiously, Zorro’s breakfast burrito doesn't automatically include cheese, but even more curiously, we didn’t seem to miss its absence this one time. So, since we’re to blame for the ordering gaffe, we’ve based this slab’s OMR on 11 elements, rather than the usual 12. OK, alright, enough foreplay – let’s get crackin. Hell of a burrito! Scorching hot to the touch at first, with a model ingredient mix and some of our favorite refried beans in town, Zorro’s AM burrito handled its business with grace and flair. All this, and a vegetable contingent that surely would have soared to ten-mustache heights were it not for the mostly irrelevant speckles of guacamole (75 cents extra) scattered about. Subtle bits of roasted red potato further nudged our appreciation of the vegetable grouping upward. The grease-free pork/egg scramble hit on all the right points, while our overall burrito-eating experience was enhanced by a smart level of sauciness. Elsewhere, we found the steamed tortilla adequate, if a bit sticky, and we had to take issue with the inherent floppiness of the whole deal at times. But we got over it.

10/01/05Super Pollo$6.257.58 Mustaches
Taq. Zorro pulled itself out of the six-mustache gutter with this mostly strong effort, and what’s more, they finally turned down the volume on that damn television. The glaring, near-complete omission of all vegetables notwithstanding, we were content to rumble our way through this slab’s muscular spice and fusillade of hot bites. The veggie ruse was an undeniable bummer, as all we spotted inside the tortilla were a few stray kernels of yellow corn – no discernable pico de gallo, no cilantro, not even any chopped onion. And where was the guac? Ha-rumph to all that, we say. At least they rigged us up a grilled tortilla, and the whole thing was sized to please. We knocked a mustache off this burrito’s rice rating for its slightly awkward Arborio-ness, and the refried beans should have been allowed to establish a bigger presence. Zorro’s spicy chicken was tasty and abundant (albeit perhaps a little overcooked), while the cheese was more than generous, and melted like it always oughta be. Some mild floppiness occurred, but between our mad containment skills and the foil proving its worth, there was never really a need to fret.
12/22/03Super Carne Asada$5.506.85 Mustaches
This mammoth burrito sure took this neighborhood’s penchant for artificial enhancement to heart. However, its ingredients failed to cooperate with one another; instead they just decided to bump chests and generally act like macho mooks. The matchup: Phantom guacamole, saucy soak-through, and an iffy ingredient mix vs. tangy hot sauce, spicy salsa, copious cheese, and a lightly grilled tortilla. Even despite some nice steak, the bad guys won by a couple of runs. Meanwhile, a television overhead blared deafeningly.
07/04/03Super Carne Asada$5.507.00 Mustaches
Outstanding, well-done steak (emphasis on well) and brilliant sauciness gamely tried to offset this burrito’s manageable floppiness and overall inconsistency from top to bottom, beginning with a blast, lagging in the middle bites, and finishing strongly. Meanwhile, a television overhead blared deafeningly.