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Tesoro, El (Geary) Civic Center / TenderloinOMR: 7.86
868 Geary
cross street: Larkin/Hyde
ph. 415/474-0530
Map Visits: 3
Not long after the first El Tesoro opened in the Tenderloin, management unfurled another treasure-chested location a couple blocks away. This edition is conveniently located within Mid City Foods market, thus improving your odds of procuring a slab, a box of Wheat Thins, and perhaps even some deodorant all in one fell swoop. And with its cut-rate happy hour prices on burritos and bottled beer, this joint could be your jump-off to a highly localized evening of crusty revelry across Geary at Ha-Ra bar, followed by a few passed-out hours at this block's Motel 6. Several small tables are available for in-store dining. Breakfast available. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

02/12/12Super California Pollo B.B.Q.$8.667.75 Mustaches
Swish: size (10); temperature (9); meat (8); beans (8); vegetables (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); rice (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7); cheese (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

It was hardly perfect — hell, it didn't even scoop up eight mustaches — but this monstrously sized burrito stood its ground against our panel of complete windbags. Perhaps it was all the fries and barbecue sauce. Huh? Because what El Tesoro's California burrito lacked in subtlety, it compensated for with pluck and savvy. Pluck and savvy? You sound like a G-rated football coach now. We're talking about a lot of hot bites. We're talking about mighty tasty refried beans. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT FRIES AND BARBECUE SAUCE. That sounds like a Pittsburgh burrito or something. The chicken was well-sauced, while the barbecue sauce in question possessed enough spice to not get laughed out of the taqueria. Elsewhere, the tortilla may have just been happy to be included in the whole affair, and the rice couldn't help but be overshadowed by the frequent fries. Rice and fries?! Starchy starchy. And while it managed to hold together throughout its run of two dozen or so bites, burstage remained a constant concern. The ingredient mix was mostly credible, although the chicken ran out by the final few bites. And finally, intangible charm remained a force from top to bottom, even if the cheese should have been better melted. Huh?

09/04/09Super Pollo en Salsa$6.958.08 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); beans (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); rice (8); ingredient mix (8); temperature (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); meat (7); cheese (7); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This buxom burrito had no chance of going down in Burritoeater annals as one of the finest of its kind — too many seven-mustache element ratings saw to that. Just the same, intangible credibility here remained fairly devastating throughout, and in spite of an occasionally sodden tortilla and often soppy interior, it won over our frowny-faced panel in the end with a smattering of strong points. Thumbs up went out to El Tesoro’s all-star refried beans, which made their mark in marvelously pasty fashion, as well as to the strong vegetabular showing, anchored as so many ace veggie ensembles are — by much diced onion in the pico de gallo (and a few bonus peas among the Spanish rice). It’s true that much dripping occurred, and things got a bit too juicy-squirty a time or two. But we appreciated the spice escalation, as well as the chicken’s rich taste, even if the poultry itself suffered some from overmoisture. The melted cheese situation also improved dramatically the further down we drilled, although on the whole the burrito should have been better heated. Still, this foiled monstrosity offered further proof that killer intangibility can often mitigate certain shortfalls in the burrito game.

05/10/07Super Chile Colorado Pork$5.957.50 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); rice (8); spiciness (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: meat (7); beans (7); vegetables (7); temperature (7); sauciness (6)
Clang: cheese (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

While there were enjoyable elements of this El Tesoro location’s debut slab – chiefly, buxom shaping, fairly burstage-proof construction, and carrot/pea-pelted Spanish rice – it couldn’t shake its shrug-enticing reading on our intangibility meter. Cheese earned the lowest rating, as the jack grates should have been much more melted...and less acrid. The successful ingredient mix was mysteriously undercut a bit by a number of lukewarm-to-warm bites, and our usually perceptive panel of judges never did determine the root cause. Relatively harmless sauce bleeds prevented a perfect burstage abatement score, and speaking of that really red chile colorado sauce that ended up dominating the scene, it turned out to be more pungent than it needed to be. And while spice hovered tempestuously throughout, the plentiful, though banal pork packed little flavor-punch. Without putting too fine a point on it, this burrito ended up coming off as nothing more than big, adequate food.