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Chunky's – SHUT! Civic Center / TenderloinOMR: 0.00
709 O'Farrell
cross street: Hyde
ph. 415/346-6100
Map Visits: 5
(Chunky's morphed into La Rosa Taq. & Grill in 2012. And that's all she wrote. Outgoing OMR: 7.73.)

Chunky’s deprived our editorial staff of one of its favorite comedy-jokes when the cell phone dealership (not even kidding) with which this tiny taqueria shared space called it quits a few years back. Even more sadly, our most recent burrito here fell well short raising an eight-mustache flag; maybe that’s why passers-by these days — the gentleman in the adjacent photo, for one — are more interested in drinking hooch from a paper bag and saying yes to ass-crack than stopping in for lunch at this Tenderloin mainstay. Cash only; take-out only. Open late nightly, except of course on the Sabbath, when the place shuts at a very respectful 10PM.

Will My Health Be Violated?

03/07/11Super Carne Asada$6.957.42 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); cheese (9); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); rice (7); vegetables (7); spiciness (7); beans (6)
Clang: ingredient mix (5); sauciness (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Poorly mixed, devoid of robust sauciness, and lacking intangible charm, our first truly mediocre Chunky’s burrito was a bit of a slog. A briefly grilled tortilla held too much Spanish rice and sub-OK refried beans, neither of which got to play with other ingredients as much as we would have liked. All-melted Jack cheese provided some gooey fun, and all that finely chopped carne asada sure was good and juicy. But too many dry, all-rice bites had their substandard way with this burrito’s final outcome.

07/26/09Super al Pastor$6.958.00 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); tortilla (9); cheese (9); burstage abatement (9); beans (8); vegetables (8); spiciness (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: meat (7); rice (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

It was gangly, it was kind of unwieldy, it possessed a few pockets of chilliness, its intangibility wasn’t anything particularly special, and its roasted pork was merely serviceable. So how did this 22-bite colossus achieve eight-mustache credibility? The $35,000 payoff extorted by our ruthless judges panel didn’t hurt, but more to the point, there were simply enough elements on hand that got it right: the sharply grilled tortilla; the handful of roasted jalapeños, uncut and unencumbered, that ratcheted spice levels up where they belong; some full-on bitchin’ guacamole; a whole bunch of melted Jack cheese imbued in all the right places; and a set of refried beans that made it happen all slab long, and pastily. Sure, there was too much cilantro, and by the time we finally got a proper read on the pork during the final bites, we realized it had barely been worth the wait. And while the ingredient mix was never a train wreck, it was hardly the portrait of true grace. This was not a champion burrito. But in the end, it was somehow an effective one.

04/02/07Super Pollo Asado$5.658.08 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); size (9); tortilla (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); vegetables (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: meat (7); rice (7); cheese (7); beans (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This hefty Chunky’s slab took a circuitous route to eight-mustache glory, but it made it there by closing time. Our initial excitement over the advertised garlic-enhanced chicken led us slightly astray – blame the excess grease and lack of garlic-y promise – and the ingredient mix sure started off on a bum note with all that rice and cilantro clumped in separate bunches. But things eventually smoothed out, and by burrito’s end, critics were hailing the ingredient integration as “seamless,” “harmonious,” and of course, “much better than Cats.” It’s true that the refried beans remained too low-profile, but we enjoyed the many bites punctuated by pads of melted jack cheese and furious spice. Our persnickety judges panel felt that the whole foiled operation deserved a better heating system, but at the same time, these poncey twits acknowledged that burstage abatement here maintained top-flight status throughout. Pico de gallo was exceptional in its chopped onion fixation and persistent tanginess, and the grilled tortilla was all business, all the time. This burrito clawed its way to the promised land, and its intangible charm helped get it there.

07/29/05Super Chile Colorado Beef$5.657.83 Mustaches
Though its rating ultimately came in under eight mustaches, Chunky’s dinner-dirigible played better than that, scoring high on the intangibility meter despite its overjuiciness and a few other minor misgivings. Their chile colorado beef deserves every bit of ballyhooed praise hurled its way, although it’s nigh on impossible for the food server to adequately drain the soaked meat before it hits the ingredient shindig. The beef itself was tremendous in its spicy tenderness, and when they toss in their utterly flammable hot sauce and a few stray long-cut slices of jalapeño, it's time to either hold back the tears or break out the tissue. Elsewhere, plentiful avocado and pepper-pelted pico de gallo raised this slab’s veggie profile, and the whole thing survived a minor hind end sog toward the end without losing its grip. On the dim side, neither the cheese nor refried beans made much of an impact, and we had no choice but to downrate for the aforementioned juiciness. We kindly accounted for the slight internal temperature drop since we had to hoof it across the street to the Nitecap to eat the thing, but we think burritos often taste better during happy hour at a dive tavern with a Bud on the bar, baseball on the television, and Buddy Holly on the juke.
09/04/03Super Carne Asada$5.658.00 Mustaches
A dead-solid effort here, save the tough, gristly steak and somewhat loose wrapjob. The grilled tortilla alone was worthy of a standing ovation.