the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Andalé Union SquareOMR: 8.22
845 Market
cross street: 5th St.
ph. 415/243-8700
Map Visits: 7
"Welcome to Westfield’s San Francisco Centre. Marvelous to see you, darling! May I take your fur? You must be so exhausted after Bloomingdale’s. How are things at Blackhawk? Good, good, very good. Aren't you just famished? Let’s take the escalator to the Food Emporium downstairs and try Andalé. What's that? No, dear, the accent's at the end of the name, not the beginning. Anyway, it’s the Mexican place next to Pasta Moto — there used to be another one up in the Marina, where my nephew Chase lives with his girlfriend, Bunny Pelosi. The burritos run about ten dollars, but I'll put it on one of my platinum cards. You'll just adore the place. Look there, do you see her limited day clutch by Coach? Simply divine. I have four."

Credit cards accepted. Unspectacular breakfast burritos available (until 2PM, hell yes); nice side salads, too. There’s even bottled and draft beer, and for the true taqueria sophisticate, wine. Unless you’re the knife-and-fork type, request a foil wrap. And dress the part willya — this is a retail commerce centre, not a mall, chump. (Re: The image at left, our photographers were going for that dim underground food court look. To their credit, they pretty much nailed it.)

Will My Health Be Violated?

08/06/12Breakfast (Chorizo)$8.757.67 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); vegetables (9); burstage abatement (9); cheese (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); meat (7); eggs (7); beans (7); ingredient mix (7); size (6); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

When Mayocoba beans dominate your breakfast slab and you get a token bowl of chilled grapes and watermelon on the side, you can be pretty sure you're not at one of 24th St.'s salt-of-the-earth taquerias down Mission way. And while Andalé's stab at morning-burrito credibility came off more limp-wristed — and lowly rated — than any other foiled effort in its oeuvre, there were still a handful of elements worth trumpeting. Such as: a stellar veggie ensemble anchored by chunky potatoes and sharp pico de gallo. Such as: plenty of melted cheese (albeit all on one side). And such as: hot bites! A clean sweep of them. But for every swish-level moment in this stunted slabette, there seemed to be something equally shrug-worthy going on. Such as: pork grease that became increasingly troublesome the further down we drilled. Such as: the indistinguishable, if adequate chorizo/egg mix. Such as: monumentally pasty refried Mayocoba beans. And such as: middling intangibility. Fortunately, we were able to assuage our mild disappointment by flexing our fearsome purchase power at Juicy Couture and Abercrombie & Fitch immediately afterward. Boo chorizo grease; hooray shopping!!!!!

10/26/11Super Chile Verde Pork$9.758.42 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); spiciness (10); burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); meat (9); rice (9); temperature (9); beans (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: size (7); vegetables (6)
Clang: cheese (4)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

It’s reached the point where even when its kitchen has an comparatively off-day, Andalé still makes a mighty fine burrito. (Of course, there’s rarely an on-day as a customer here when the dining atmosphere is this ghastly.) Our lunch emerged undersized, but almost entirely hot save a lot of unmelted cheese, which turned out to be this slab’s clang-level Achilles heel. Better, but still quite mediocre were the sparse posse of veggies and ordinary guacamole. Aside from all that, everything pretty much won big: the exceptionally flavorful pork; the plumply grained rice; the smartly grilled tortilla; the suitably robust spiciness; and most of all, the completely on-point chile verde and salsa. Even the pinto beans demonstrated eight mustaches worth of strength. Top-notch intangibility was never in doubt, and neither was the volume of the phone-chatty woman’s voice two tables over. Then we went shopping!!!!!1!!!

11/16/10Supremo Guajillo Chicken$9.758.50 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); meat (9); rice (9); beans (9); cheese (9); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9); vegetables (8); spiciness (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: tortilla (6); size (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

While this unsuper-sized slab wasn’t immune to matters of moderate concern here and there — we’re talking about a woefully loose wrap; we’re also talking about some drippy top-end burstage and a nothing-special tortilla that fell prey to a few soggy moments — these were far outweighed by the litany of glorious elements on hand, not the least of which was this burrito’s razor-sharp intangibility. Indeed, it just tasted really, really good, and we couldn’t entirely pinpoint why. Was it the delightfully moist, tender, and deeply flavorful lumps of chicken, all slathered by Andalé’s utterly rad guajillo sauce? Could it have been the on-the-money rice and refried beans, which created one hell of a foundation on which to build 8.50-mustache success? We know the graceful ingredient mix certainly had something to do with this foiled meal’s formidable taste-bud relations; same goes for the non-stop cavalcade of hot bites. Even the cheese (yellow cheddar? interesting) got into the nine-mustache act and made some notable contributions. Yadda yadda boom.

08/03/10Supremo Carnitas$9.758.92 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); spiciness (10); ingredient mix (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); rice (9); cheese (9); tortilla (8); meat (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: beans (7); size (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

As much as the horrendous mall food court atmosphere tried to scuttle things, there just wasn’t much wrong here. In fact, with a little extra length — or at least girth — we would have had our first-ever subterranean-produced nine-mustache rating; imagine the outcry in the Mission! But those would-be outcriers weren't here for the impeccable ingredient mix, impervious construction, gracefully ruthless spice, hearty salsa verde, clean sweep of hot bites, real nice and moist Spanish rice, and cheese cheese cheese (some sort of smart cheddar/Jack blend). All that towering intangibility didn’t hurt Andalé’s cause none, either. Though relatively low-profile, the pinto beans held the fort, and the softly grilled tortilla cradled chunks of flavorful and tender-enough fried pork. If only it all would have stuck around just a few bites longer.

05/29/09Supremo Carne Asada$9.758.50 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); temperature (10); meat (9); rice (9); beans (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: size (7); sauciness (7)
Clang: cheese (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Swashbuckling flavor! Searing spice! Shoppers! Must be Andalé again. This burrito may have been a bit on the small side (especially for $US 9.75), but it's tough to gripe about too many elements here. Let’s get those gripes out of the way early: a Jack/cheddar blend that didn’t get its melt on until the latter third of the slab; hind-end sog, due to the pinto beans and juicy carne asada; and, that whole stunted-size issue. Everything else was on the money, from the mildly grilled tortilla and moist, flavorful rice on through the pinto beans that revealed an alchemic smokiness all their own. Applause also goes to the smooth ingredient mix, its sole flaw being the bunched steak down low. A choogling sweep of hot bites, along with extraordinary salsa ranchero and infallible intangibility, ensured a sky-high OMR from this subterranean, maddeningly alluring burrito counter.

Sorry to cut out early, but we have to go get a $175 wallet at Kenneth Cole now.

06/12/07Supremo Mesquite Chicken$9.757.83 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); spiciness (10); rice (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); ingredient mix (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: size (7); meat (7); beans (6); vegetables (6)
Clang: cheese (4)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

And on our second visit, Andalé succumbed to the seven-mustache gravitational pull. This stubby, but dense slab ate bigger than it looked – our panel’s bellies were surprisingly sated by the end of things here. A little ingrown tortilla trouble prevented a perfect burstage abatement rating, but Andalé’s raging tomatillo (two types!) rammed its head on our ten-mustache ceiling for both sauciness and spiciness, and that’s no cheap trick. The mesquite chicken was plenty juicy and said all the right things...just not often enough. Translation: not enough meat. The tortilla, meanwhile, stuck to the grilled facts – nothing spectacular, but all was fine and well throughout its stay. The tight wrap didn’t fall prey to the scourge of ingredient segregation, as everything from the exceptional, lightly oiled rice and disappointing pinto beans to, well, everything else, mingled naturally. Occasional, minor temperature issues reared up from time to time, but the sorriest moments here came courtesy of the tiny, unmelted grates of jack cheese. Still, certain bites were amazingly delicious - mainly due to the rice, salsa, and chicken – and even in a shopping “centre” food court, there’s never anything wrong with that.

11/20/06Supremo Molé de Olla$9.758.33 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); temperature (10); tortilla (9); rice (9); cheese (9); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9)
Shrug: size (7); meat (7); beans (7); burstage abatement (7)
Clang: vegetables (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

As much as San Francisco’s soul food, the burrito, seems a little out of place in an upmarket food court like this, Andalé’s overall burritowork on this visit transcended all the shopping mall silliness to ratchet up a well-mustached rating. The side green salad, while theoretically a nice touch, got a bunch of oil all over our foil, and that ain’t right. But from the first bite down, a super-grilled tortilla and some furious spice were hallmarks of this clumsily assembled, but still fine lunch. Although Andalé’s mole de olla provided plenty of saucy punch, the meat it drenched – though tasty and plentiful – erred on the mushy side somewhat. All the melted cheddar was a welcome event, and we enjoyed the chubby-grained rice all the way through. We quietly dealt with the respectable whole pinto beans and the underwhelming length of the whole deal. And the ingredient mix was very nicely realized. But the big disappointment here was the lack of contribution from the vegetable family. Avocado in the side salad, but not the burrito? Oh, come on now. All the various shades of brown and orange grew visually wearisome, other than the occasional flash of guac. Nine dollars! And seventy-five cents! This burrito should have come with a free cosmetics bag, not just some chips and a side salad.