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Farolito, Taq. El ExcelsiorOMR: 8.44
4817 Mission
cross street: Russia
ph. 415/824-7877
Map Visits: 7
Perhaps it’s not as high-profile as the pair of El Farolito shops up in the Mission, but don’t hold that against this of-the-neighborhood / for-the-neighborhood Excelsior joint. File among San Francisco’s saltiest salt-of-the-earth taquerias, and we mean that in the kindest way. Breakfast and bottled beer available. Open real late. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

09/30/12Super Pollo Asado$6.958.33 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); cheese (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); beans (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: rice (7); vegetables (7); sauciness (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Not much to fault here on a Sunday evening in the Excelsior. Hot bites? Check. Hot spice? Oh yes. Hot meat? Hot meat! Our lengthy slab's chicken was, just like the tortilla cradling it, capably grilled. We could have done with some higher-profile pico de gallo and less besieged rice, but the lovingly pasty refrieds, fully melted cheese, and up-in-it intangibility compensated like a bonus check on payday; further kudos went out to the eight-mustache ingredient mix, because mixing a burrito's ingredients is way tougher than it looks on TV. So what if grease drips had us reaching for a couple extra napkins? What were you expecting? The Hoover Dam? We weren't expecting the Hoover Dam. Why would anyone want poured concrete for dinner? What's your problem, anyway? Lighten up willya.

07/01/11Breakfast (Chorizo)$6.958.77 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); size (9); meat (9); eggs (9); beans (9); cheese (9); spiciness (9); ingredient mix (9); tortilla (8); rice (8); vegetables (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: sauciness (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

The friendly burrito-makers behind the counter at Farolito-of-the-Excelsior kindly agreed to concoct us a seriously hefty breakfast burrito well after the typical breakfast hour, and we’re eternally thankful for their scheduling flexibility. By no means was it a perfect slab — minor downfalls included hind-end sog, loosely packed construction from top to bottom, and what appeared to be the full absence of guacamole or avocado — but still, that sky-high rating tells no lie. The whole foiled affair was a cavalcade of inviting flavor, anchored by an ace chorizo/egg mix, marvelously melted Jack cheese, onion-rich pico de gallo that flew the veggie flag high, and refried beans that were the portrait of pasty deliciousness. Even the rice, usually an unwelcome element in our breakfast burritos, didn’t intrude while contributing in a nicely subtle way. The tortilla was lightly grilled, and every bite was a hot bite. Slabs don’t come any more streetwise than this, any time of day.

01/14/10Super al Pastor$6.508.00 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (9); temperature (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); vegetables (8); sauciness (8); spiciness (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: rice (7); beans (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Interesting color formations here, but that’s your Farolito pastor at work — ruthlessly saucy and more than a little greasy...the sort of pork you want on your fork*, not on your finest white suit. The gently grilled tortilla was turned varying shades of red-orange at times, like one of those sunsets you get down Fort Worth way. We were way into all the diced onion mixed in with the liberally salty pork, and the almost entirely melted Jack cheese was also worth the trip. The rice was on the pale side and a bit overcooked, but it never turned into a major detriment. The thoroughly mediocre ingredient mix, however, nearly dragged this fairly sized slab down below the eight-mustache waterline. Steady spice and grilled onions to the rescue! Onions!

* Merely a figure of speech. We always eat burritos by hand.

06/10/09Super Carne Asada$6.508.17 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); meat (9); spiciness (9); size (8); rice (8); beans (8); cheese (8); vegetables (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); ingredient mix (7); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

The size was nice and the tortilla was gently grilled but overly grease-splotched and the carne asada sure was deliciously peppery and the Spanish rice and refried beans both starred quietly in supporting roles and the Jack cheese grates were pleasantly melted and placed in many of the right places and a charming set of diced onion led the veggie charge and things got a little too greasy at times and as a result we mostly pointed fingers at the otherwise stellar steak and somewhat thin salsa which together accounted for strong spice while the ingredient mix behaved reasonably throughout and every bite was a hot bite although we got a bit bummed by the top-end sauce bleed and hind-end cleave which fortunately didn’t prove fatal and hey how about this fine slab’s storied intangible greatness and now we can all agree that punctuation makes the world a better place.

09/05/08Super Pollo Asado$6.508.50 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (9); beans (9); vegetables (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); cheese (8)
Shrug: rice (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

There may not have been anything completely unassailable about this hefty lunch, but just the same, our usually sour panel struggled to find much at fault, and ultimately stepped back out onto Mission St. in a content mood. The rice-heavy mix suffered from a bit of one-sidedness, and the jack cheese, though 90 percent melted, remained globby here and there. Everything else was pretty much full steam ahead, particularly the delectable salsa roja that accented everything in its wake without slathering anything to the point of drowning. Sauce rocked like mid-1970s Aerosmith, while a champ team of veggies was driven forth by chopped onion, diced onion, and minced onion. Slab-wide temperatures took few prisoners, but those who had the good fortune of being taken into custody swam amid sets of bang-up refried beans and grilled, smartly sauced poultry. And it was all cradled by a wonderfully flaky tortilla. The Excelsior strikes again. Onions!

11/28/06Super Carnitas$5.408.42 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); size (9); tortilla (9); cheese (9); temperature (9); meat (8); rice (8); sauciness (8); spiciness (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: beans (7); vegetables (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This food-hunk’s dearth of perfect element ratings didn’t stop it from landing a very applause-worthy OMR of 8.42 - kudos to Farolito’s kitchen for delivering all kinds of solid consistency. The refrieds were a shade off their taste-game, and the merely serviceable vegetable set was less than overpowering, but that’s it – not much else to grouse about here. Globby, all-melted jack cheese accented most every bite, as did quietly contributing spiciness and a nice vibe of intangibility. We weren’t sure what to think of the carnitas in the early stages, but our panel managed to recognize their roasty and mega-diced - if nominally greasy – worth before long. If anything leapt out veggie-wise, it was the prominent tomato chunks from the pico de gallo, but the low guac impact here was a disappointment. Of course, a sharply grilled tortilla like this has always been a Farolito trademark. Most importantly, nothing about this lengthy slab could be filed under “sucky.”

01/16/05Super Lengua$4.907.34 Mustaches
The burrito that, once upon a time, could have licked back. We all know why you’re here, but first, a rundown of the rest. The good: Well-proportioned sizing, top-tier temperature control, and composition that was built to last. The iffy: Quasi-melted cheese on the inner tortilla, fair-to-midlin sauciness, uneven spice, and a batch of whole beans that brought down the room a pinch. As for the evening’s lengua, it was tender and came off as a meatier tofu, submissively assuming the taste of everything around it. And when it was over and eaten, all that remained was a grain or two of rice in the basket and the nagging feeling of epicurean detachment that comes from realizing you’ve just eaten a tongue for dinner.