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Faro, El Financial DistrictOMR: 7.42
346 Kearny
cross street: Bush/Pine
ph. 415/391-1767
Map Visits: 3
The newest El Faro in town (circa 2005) features boomin' lunchtime business, tri-level dining, and something called a "Happy Burrito," which evidently swaps out cheese for tomato and lettuce. The sprawling burrito menu also includes a sans-tortilla option (known as a "Burrito Bowl"), as well as a variety called "Baby No Meat" that, when ordered, may cause blushing or raised eyebrows among those around you. Expect to overhear the words "client services," and possibly even "strategic initiatives," on an adjacent customer's cell phone conversation as you wait in the Space Mountain-like line to order your Happy Baby No Meat Burrito Bowl. Enter from either Kearny or its Frenchy-French parallel alley, Belden. Closed evenings and Sundays. Breakfast available (until noon!), as well as bottled beer, cheesesteak tortas, and burritos that pretty much taste like cheesesteaks (see 2/2/07 below). Credit cards accepted.

(Word of warning to sour cream-averse readers: Sour cream is the first ingredient to hit the tortilla here, so don’t lag on letting your burrito-maker know your preferences.)

Will My Health Be Violated?

08/20/09Super Pollo Asado$6.757.42 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); burstage abatement (10); sauciness (9); size (8); tortilla (8)
Shrug: meat (7); rice (7); beans (6); cheese (6); ingredient mix (6); temperature (6)
Clang: vegetables (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

There was certainly no denying this burrito’s fierce spice-kick, crash-proof construction, and perennial sauce factor. Unfortunately, there was plenty denying a handful of other underachieving elements here, from vegetable deficiencies and jarring temperature inconsistencies to an ingredient mix mostly responsible for those jarring temperature inconsistencies in the first place. While we enjoyed the hot side of this fairly sized slab well enough, the blame for the several sub-warm bites went straight to the poorly integrated guacamole, the taste of which wasn’t even all that remarkable to begin with. The refried beans did a nice imitation of pintos — much beans, little paste — and while the grilled chicken was adequately flavorful and the chief recipient of El Faro’s top-rank salsa, our panel members agreed that it could have been a little less tough. But hey: one napkin, alright. The final survey here, however, said “mediocre,” and little more.

02/02/07Fajita Carne Asada$8.407.83 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); size (9); rice (9); sauciness (9); cheese (8)
Shrug: beans (7); ingredient mix (7); tortilla (6); meat (6); vegetables (6)
Clang: spiciness (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Stupendous length and beltbusting heft/girth loudly introduced this foiled effort, so things got off to a sharp start even before bite one hit our judges panel square in the yob. But despite its entirely respectable rating, this burrito couldn’t ditch its cheesesteak-in-slab’s-clothing identity. Not that it wasn’t a tasty or, moreover, an interesting eat – it was, and it was – but after enough bites that included grilled / long-cut onion, green bell pepper, the odd piece of mushroom, and of course, big cuts of cheese-slathered beef, we started looking around for a Tastykake chaser and the next bus to the Dr. J and Rocky Balboa statues out at the Spectrum. Sadly, the carne asada came off flat-tasting, without much flavor-bite to it, and we’re rarely impressed these days with El Faro’s too-creamy guacamole (usually the first ingredient to hit the tortilla here). The cheddar/jack cheese was an overly gooey mess, but with salsa roja this well-dispersed and rice this tip-top, we let it slide. The ingredient mix was fine enough, with the usual gaffe of separated rice acting as the main strike against it. Even though it was hot and well-built, with only vague hints of spiciness, this was clearly the Jack Klugman burrito. Steak-umm, don't hurt 'em.

04/27/05Super Chile Verde Pork$5.857.83 Mustaches
We went out on a limb and requested a double-tortilla wrap, a decision that resulted in hulking burrito dimensions every which way. It also resulted in much chewing. But as with our recent breakfast burrito experience at El Faro’s 1st St. shop, a certain amount of slurping was necessary to circumnavigate the inevitable mushiness that occurs when a massive slab like this doesn’t receive the tight wrap it needs. (We held it all together. Nobody contains a perilously constructed burrito quite like Team Burritoeater.) Sadly, the unspectacular pork was pieced exclusively in plus-sizes, while the refried beans, cheese, and creamy guacamole together all danced the Mushy Shuffle. But nice touches such as plentiful jalapeño slices and other nice veggie additives helped this big fella repel the taunts of mediocrity and maintain its composure.