the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Nick's Crispy Tacos Russian HillOMR: 7.41
1500 Broadway
cross street: Polk
ph. 415/409-8226
Map Visits: 5
This uptown shop is better known for its tacos and the fact that it shares space with velvet-roped, chandeliered nitespot Rouge (former home of the infamous Johnny Love's). Burritos here flirted with respectability at one brief point before settling back into their original sub-mediocre groove, and combined with the place's insufferable atmosphere on weekends — we're just not into dining amid obnoxious piles of stumbling post-collegians pouring bottomless pitchers of mimosas down their throats — we can't claim Nick's as one of our preferred local burrito purveyors. The burrito menu features a few clever seafood options. Outdoor dining available. Breakfast available until 3PM on weekends. Cash only, bafflingly. Enter from Polk.

Will My Health Be Violated?

08/26/12Pollo con Todo$8.457.33 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); burstage abatement (10); rice (9); temperature (9); sauciness (8)
Shrug: size (7); meat (7); beans (6); vegetables (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: cheese (5); tortilla (4)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

When our judges panel peeled off this short-ish slab's foil to reveal the whitest, stickiest item spotted in San Francisco since that time Gavin Newsom spilled a bunch of glue on his jacket, we knew times could turn tough at the only taqueria in town with red velvet booths. And while this burrito's bumbling bi-plane avoided taking a nosedive into the side of Mt. Six Mustaches, its fortunes certainly weren't helped by all the unmelted cheese and super-austere pinto beans. Stuffing an overwhelming percentage of the moist, yet strangely mealy chicken down in the sketchy tortilla's hind end also didn't do anyone any favors. Fortunately, we at least got a bit of a thrill out of the supercharged habanero salsa, and wasn't it ironic that the Spanish rice — an item that didn't find its way onto Nick's menu until around six years prior — turned out to be a star element? Cleave-free construction and mostly hot bites also helped matters, but the too-creamy guacamole and overly tomato-reliant pico de gallo sure didn't. Neither did middling intangibility and the flypaper-like outer wrap.

01/25/12Carne Asada con Todo$7.457.58 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); temperature (10); meat (9); burstage abatement (9); vegetables (8)
Shrug: size (7); rice (7); cheese (7); tortilla (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: beans (5); sauciness (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Despite a number of on-point elements — including a heap of right-smoky beef and soaring intangible credibility — our latest uncrispy burrito at Nick’s lagged overall. Our witch hunt’s trail led directly to this length-deprived burrito’s lousy sauce dispersal, which allowed the top half to wallow in dryness while the lower half hogged (and occasionally spewed) all the excess. Kind of not so ideal. The other big trouble was laid at the feet of the sparse collection of whole pinto beans, which at best dotted the interior slabscape; meanwhile, the wickedly sticky/gummy tortilla was a borderline-clanger itself. As for certain things we enjoyed here that didn’t get mentioned up in the opening sentence, hats off to the piping-hot overall temperature and gracefully sledgehammering of habanero sauce that punctuated several bites. But in the end, the Spanish-inspired rice was a microcosm of this burrito: seven mustaches we couldn’t quite figure out.

04/10/07Carnitas con Todo$5.507.92 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); vegetables (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); meat (8); rice (8); cheese (8)
Shrug: size (7); ingredient mix (7); tortilla (6); beans (6); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Although refried beans remain unwelcome at Nick’s, the recent arrival of delicious, moist Spanish rice caused an immediate upsurge in respect from our carb-appreciative judges panel. But that wasn’t all we found likable about this fully respectable slab, as tongue-lashing spiciness – brought on by no shortage of habañero sauce – excellent fried pork, and some killer, tomato-splashed guacamole each provided mustachioed fireworks on this afternoon. This was a dense, tightly packed slab, well-built and full of all those hot bites we pine for whenever we approach the taqueria counter and kindly say, "Burrito please." Still, the mega-steamed tortilla left us looking for synonyms for “sticky,” and that was kind of a bummer...although not as much as the austere pinto beans here. Sizing was ever so slightly underwhelming, but hey, back to those carnitas – slyly salted and smartly textured, inside and out. Cheese: all melted, quietly contributing, very nicely done. And other than the encroaching rice, the ingredient floor plan was smartly laid out. All told, a nice surprise from this site of slabular disappointments past.

10/26/05Pollo con Todo$5.507.17 Mustaches
As we sat in the exact spot on the Rouge floor where Chad from Orinda met Hilary from Palo Alto a few Saturday nights back, we enjoyed our afternoon burrito at Nick’s, despite withered expectations and the middling mustache rating. We won’t prattle on yet again about our preference for a bit of good rice in our slab (kindly see our FAQ for more on our ornery opinions re: burrito ingredients), but despite the obvious m.i.a. granulates, this lil’ buddy of a burrito tasted mighty fine, yes it did. Spiciness was surprisingly fierce, an ideal amount of pinto beans picked up the slack some, and nothing remotely resembling even a lukewarm bite came rumbling down the chute. The chicken was perfectly reasonable in its cut, deployment, and taste, and we were particularly impressed by Nick’s hefty ‘n’ delicious vegetable squadron (guacamole: so rad here). Conversely, we felt this short slab was oversauced, while the attendant InvisiCheese(TM) baffled us, end to end. And Nick! Sir! Grill the tortilla - please don’t steam it all to sticky hell. Anyway, it would have taken the world’s toppermost spoonful of rice to earn this one the coveted plateau of eight-mustache respectability...but to their credit, it was much better than we anticipated, even if it wasn’t crispy.
11/22/03Carne Asada con Todo$5.756.33 Mustaches
Neither rice nor refried beans were sighted anywhere on the premises. Same went for spice, saucy flavor, length, and girth. As a result, the supremely melted cheese – most of it in the burrito, some of it sitting at other tables – the devilishly flavorful guacamole and pico de gallo, and zero burstage concerns weren’t nearly enough.