the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Menudo, Taq. ExcelsiorOMR: 7.50
4591 Mission
cross street: Brazil
ph. 415/333-0604
Map Visits: 5
Although Taq. Menudo has long since ditched the sports posters on the ceiling and the Ms. Pac Man arcade game that used to coax the quarters of customers, it’s still tough to talk too much trash about any food retailer named after bovine stomach. Sure enough, menudo’s available all week long, while a dozen meat options, chimichangas, and chingalingas all make appearances on the menu. Breakfast and bottled beer available. Open late. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

01/19/12Super Pastor$6.507.08 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); spiciness (9)
Shrug: tortilla (7); meat (7); rice (7); cheese (7); vegetables (7); temperature (7); burstage abatement (7); sauciness (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: beans (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

When the ingredient mix worked, so did the burrito. Sadly, though, between this burly slab’s temperature inconsistencies, shady ensemble work, middling intangibility, and, yes, dodgy ingredient mix two-thirds of the time, Taq. Menudo banished itself to Burritoville’s low seven-mustache ghetto yet again (see: 2003, 2005, 2007). The main element that regularly impressed our panel was the spice-bringing passel of jalapeño slices. Other than that, it was a case of sometimes-it’s-OK-but-mostly-it-isn’t — the off-and-on melted cheese, the smartly grilled tortilla that turned increasingly sodden, the unimpressive pork, the creeping drippiness of the damn thing (we burned through so so many napkins) all added up to a fat letdown after this Excelsior shop’s sudden upturn two years prior. We never even got a sense of the under-represented refried beans. How many times must we stress the obvious?: We demand a sense of the beans.

01/03/10Super Pollo en Salsa Roja$6.968.33 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); spiciness (10); temperature (10); meat (9); tortilla (8); rice (8); ingredient mix (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: size (7); cheese (7); vegetables (7); beans (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Introductions at the top end may have been mildly marred by saucy burstage and density-deficient floppery, but each ensuing bite drove the point home that we had a true winner in our midst — for the first time in all our visits to Taq. Menudo. The most significant contributors to this veteran shop’s change of fortune were its perennially perfect salsafication, full-figured spice, hot streak of hot bites, and plenteous, mightily sauced chicken. Never mind the thin, near-albino refried beans; booming intangibility and an all-together-now ingredient mix also made our panel feel real alright.

05/23/07Super Carnitas en Salsa Verde$5.407.17 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (9); temperature (9); size (8); beans (8)
Shrug: meat (7); vegetables (7); ingredient mix (7); tortilla (6); rice (6); sauciness (6); spiciness (6); burstage abatement (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Was it carnitas in chile verde pork’s clothing? Vice versa? Whatever the verdict on our meat choice this time around at La Taq. Menudo, it worked out alright for us...even if it was billed as fried pork but came off as carnitas’ heavily marinated sibling. The meat passed our test, although its sauce was, more often than not, simply overwhelming in its drippy aim; all that thin guacamole didn’t help, either. So yes, burstage concerns remained significant throughout the 17-bite lifespan of this sizable, but irritatingly soft slab. While the melted cheese was raising a gooey ruckus, and the refried beans were laying down the slop-law something fierce, the brown rice was a non-starter in its overapplied flatness. Bites were hot, and we took little umbrage with the competent ingredient mix and gang of capable vegetables on hand. But the one mustache awarded for this burrito’s shrugging intangibility tells you all you need to know, even if the entire slab did manage to clear our seven-mustache bar.

08/28/05Super Pollo en Chipotle$4.857.00 Mustaches
It’s always poignant to witness someone wrangling with their first burrito at the next table, as was the case here at La Taq. Menudo. But not even the miracle of burrito-life could improve the vibes of this decidedly mediocre Sunday evening slab in the Excelsior. Kind of a shame, considering how mouth-watering "pollo en chipotle" sounds when ordered. Were it not for its twin perfect ratings in temperature and burstage abatement, this burrito’s overall rating would have easily slid into the sub-tolerable sixes. Among its maladies: marginally mushy, altogether segregated Spanish rice; some rather undelicious refried beans; a total absence of pico de gallo; inconsistently melted cheese shreds; and most costly, a cowardly avoidance of anything resembling spice. As for the supposedly sauce-enhanced chicken that had us all in a pre-blimp lather, its large chunks presented themselves as ruefully (if harmlessly) pink, while its "accompanying" chipotle steered strangely clear of most any portion of the burrito dominated by the white meat. Not only that, but this sauce screamed "Pace Picante" way more than it should have. Glad it wasn’t our first burrito.
09/29/03Super Carne Asada$4.757.00 Mustaches
Perhaps the classiest move of the year came at La Taq. Menudo, where the cheese was auto-melted into the dish of refried beans behind the counter. This burrito was hot to the touch (generally an encouraging sign), but everything else about it was adequate rather than noteworthy – so adequate-and-not-noteworthy that there is nothing further to say, other than that you can do better in the Excelsior.