the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Our 10-Mustache Rating Scale™return to top
Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Newsletterreturn to top
Our Favoritesreturn to top
Burrito Industry Hypereturn to top
Information That Will Appeal To People Who Enjoy Feeling Like “Insiders”return to top
Notable Contributionsreturn to top
Words That Frequently Or Never Appear On Burritoeater.comreturn to top
Site Overviewreturn to top
  • What the…?
  • aims to be the Web’s most complete source of information on San Francisco taquerias – where they’re located, what they look like, if they’re open late, whether they serve breakfast, what the SF Department of Public Health says about them, which ones double as cell phone retailers, etc. etc. And while we realize that food may be one of the most objectively regarded things in life, we’re not shy about offering our opinion on any given burrito shop in town.

  • Why?
  • Well, we saw a great need awhile back. Obviously, San Francisco is lousy with taquerias, and given the broad mass appeal of burritos here, creating a complete information source for our fair city’s burrito shops seemed like the right thing to do. Also, it’s mighty entertaining to venture around town and eat burritos everywhere. Is it as fun as skimming rocks on a frozen lake? If you imagine that the rocks are burritos and the lake is our systematic, fully thawed engine of analysis, then yes, it is.

  • When did you commence this whole extendo-stunt?
  • Years ago – we got out there in the thick of it with our burrito journal on New Year’s Day 2003.

  • How long can it go on?
  • Until our bellies explode or we start obsessing over local vegan ice cream parlors, whichever comes first. Neither scenario is likely, however, for a good burrito is fun to eat, solid sustenance and, when frozen, can be fashioned into an excellent brick substitute.

  • Are you in on the joke?
  • We started the joke.

Our 10-Mustache Rating Scale™return to top
  • What's with all the mustaches?
  • Because points and stars are dull, and a ten-beard rating system seemed a bit much. Mustaches are much more user-friendly. Just ask a law enforcement officer, or most any taqueria food handler who’s a man. They’ll surely tell you.

  • What’s “OMR” an acronym for?
  • Overall Mustache Rating – a taqueria’s average rating over the course of however many times it’s had to endure our terrible onslaught of note-taking scrutiny. In an effort to ensure our ratings don’t grow too stale on the shelf, we figure our most recent visit into the burrito shop’s OMR twice, while past visits are counted once each. Require further clarification? Read the detailed explanation in the March 2006 Blargh, or e-mail mathwiz at burritoeater dot com.

    Also, as of January 2011, all burritos rated before January 1, 2006 are no longer figured into a taqueria’s OMR. Why? Well, just because a taqueria had the knack in the mid-2000s shouldn’t imply that it’s still worth a hill of refried beans today. See the January 2009 Blargh for further details.

  • Is the taqueria with the highest OMR the best place in town then?
  • Perhaps...and perhaps not. It’s important to note the number of times we’ve visited a taqueria. Anyone in a white lab coat will tell you that the more times you conduct an experiment, the more bulletproof the results are bound to be.

  • How do you rate burritos?
  • We generally examine 12 key elements of a burrito, with each receiving a 0-10 rating on our 10-Mustache Scale™. These 12 elements range from the objective (size, ingredient mix, temperature, burstage abatement) to the subjective (ingredients’ taste):
    1 – Size: Is it 7-9 inches in length? Is it girthsome? Was our hefty appetite sated? If fired from a bazooka, could it blunt the momentum of a charging rhinoceros?
    2 – Tortilla: Is it grilled, and does it taste and smell like it? Or is it steamed? Is it deliciously flaky? Tiresomely chewy? Is it made from the finest flour? Or balsawood?
    3 – Meat: First and foremost, does it taste good? Is it well-chopped but not overly diced? Is it seasoned/marinated/barbecued? Does it anchor the slab without dominating it? If the meat on hand is sesos, is it cerebrum or cerebellum? (This category is eliminated for vegetarian burritos, duh.)
    4 – Rice: Is it well-cooked? Does it accentuate the burrito? Or does it stage a coup? Is it Spanish? A few choice vegetables sprinkled throughout (diced carrot, perhaps a few peas) are usually fun. Is it white? Look around – you may have mistakenly stepped into Wang Fat’s instead of El Castillito. (Full disclosure: A riceless burrito’s ricelessness counts against it on the Burritoeater rating scale – i.e. its category rating of zero is still factored into the burrito’s OMR. Why? Because we enjoy rice in our burritos.)
    5 – Beans: Yes, they’re an essential – you may as well be in Nogales (or Naugles) without them. Are they tasty and pasty? Do they admirably play a support role? Or do they try to hog the spotlight? If not refried, are they at least well-drained pintos?
    6 – Cheese: Does the burrito not contain an unmelted slice of Borden cheese-food? Alright, that’s a good start. Is cheese placed on the tortilla prior to grilling/steaming? Or is it sprinkled on with the guacamole and pico de gallo just prior to tortilla shut-in? Is it the deliciously melted adhesive it should be? If not, do you have the food handler’s home address where goons may be sent to “equalize” the intolerable gaffe?
    7 – Vegetables: No, not cauliflower and sprouts. Rather, chopped onion…pico de gallo…guacamole/avocado…cilantro…even the odd pepper…but never lettuce. Does the flavor (or lack thereof) of each item enhance or detract? Is one of the above notably absent? Does another pick up the slack? Are the amounts proper? Or is it a tortilla salad?
    8 – Sauciness: Does the burrito boast enough saucy enhancement? Or is it as parched as Death Valley in late summer? Is it a tasty kind of saucy? Do the pureed elements on hand (guacamole, refried beans) up the sauciness quotient that much more? Or is it thin and bordering on juicy? If so, are there drips and drabs? Are you well-stocked on napkins?
    9 – Spiciness: Do you see stars after taking bites? Does fire-in-the-belly persist hours later? Or is the taqueria’s idea of “extra spice” certifiably WhiteFolk-approved? The more stars we see and fire we feel, the better, and our ratings reflect this. On the other hand, does the outta-hand spice attempt to mask the shortcomings of a ghastly burrito? That can be a real bummer.
    10 – Ingredient mix: Do you get a fair representation of the entire slab in virtually every bite? Do all the burrito’s elements intermingle? Some? Or does the tortilla’s divided interior resemble a war front, with hot ingredients on one side and un-hot ingredients on the other? Are you tempted to put in a call to The Great Uniter?
    11 – Temperature: Did the burrito enjoy a post-construction stint in the Fresh-O-Matic steamer? Burritos ought to be hot. All hot, all the time. This is non-negotiable. Cold bites are one of the greatest scourges ever and must be stopped.
    12 – Burstage abatement: There are a number of ways to judge a burrito’s ability to abate burstage, but however it’s examined, the end result should be clear: How well does the burrito hold together? Other factors to weigh: Is the wrap tight or loose? How many napkins are you using? Are your containment skills strong? Do you enjoy sauce running down your arm and past your elbow? Have you completely given up and gone the knife-and-fork route? Would you prefer fries with that? Or perhaps an order of scampi?
    (13 – Intangibility: Here’s a chance for any given burrito to either make up lost ground or come plummeting back to Earth. In general, does the burrito pretty much rule? Add two bonus mustaches. Is it adequate dining at its most adequate? Add one bonus mustache. Would you rather be having a bratwurst? Add zero bonus mustaches.)

    The total number of mustaches are divided by the number of categories examined (not including Intangibility). Voila! – the burrito gets slapped with a rating it’ll never shake. Until we eat there again, at least.

  • How do you rate breakfast burritos?
  • Wherever possible, we do our best to order a super breakfast burrito – one with all of the above ingredients, only with rice swapped out for eggs. What do we look for in eggs in a breakfast burrito? They should be firmly scrambled (never runny) and act in concert with the meat on hand – usually sausage, ham, or bacon – as a seamless centerpiece of the burrito. If beans aren’t available, we base the burrito’s overall mustache rating on 11 elements, rather than the usual 12. We’ve got calculators.

    Kindly note that we do not attempt to feature a comprehensive listing of local, non-taqueria breakfast burrito retailers. Why? When the menu of every other doughnut shop, café, and dim sum house in town seems to include a breakfast burrito, it’s time to draw the line somewhere.

  • So how do you define the various mustache ratings?
  • 10 mustaches: The holy grail of burritodom. Eternally coveted, (seemingly) forever unattainable.
    9.00 - 9.99 mustaches: A suitable stand-in for 10 mustaches at this point. As great as it gets – and yet exceptionally rare, much more rare than you’d think.
    8.00 - 8.99 mustaches: Recommended with varying degrees of vim/vigor, despite certain forgivable flaws. Among the best work in town.
    7.00 - 7.99 mustaches: Burrito purgatory. Shrug.
    6.00 – 6.99 mustaches: The increasingly unbearable portrait of mediocrity.
    5.00 – 5.99 mustaches: Heavy on calories, carbohydrates; pathetically light on actual quality. Hrumph.
    4.99 mustaches and below: So potentially bowel-shattering, you may be humming the Tums jingle for a week. Or perhaps it just tastes like a combination of toxic mud and dumpster juice. Either way, avoid in perpetuity.

  • Dumpster juice? Are there burritos in San Francisco that are really that bad?
  • No, not really. To be kind, even a disappointing burrito around here is still a pretty good way to spend 15 minutes of chewing time. But since San Francisco’s taqueria scene is so sprawling and acutely competitive, it’s our duty to point folks toward what we believe are the best spots in town among the 150-plus choices. Why settle for a mere 6.42-mustache burrito in a taqueria paradise such as San Francisco?

    Then again, the burritos at that one place are pretty ghastly.

Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Newsletterreturn to top
  • Do you send a newsletter?
  • We titillate loyal readers regularly with our e-mail publication, the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly. (By “titillate,” of course we mean “entertain and inform.”) Simply shoot a quick e-mail to ch at burritoeater dot com. Would you like a taste test before committing? Visit our extensive Apocalypse archives.

  • What's in the Apocalypse?
  • Reviews of burritos from taquerias visited the month prior. Burrito-related news items and history tidbits. Tips on burrito containment skills. Made-up words that nevertheless make some sense in the general context of things. And of course, our popular Dear Beano feature, in which resident taqueria sage Beano Cook fields questions such as “What’s the deal with barbacoa?” and “Don’t real men eat quesadillas?”

  • Wasn't there a football analyst years ago named Beano Cook?
  • Hmm. Was there?

    In any event, he’s not the curmudgeonly character who mans our reader mailbag each month in the Apocalypse. Hit our Beano up at He guarantees a reply, although we can’t guarantee its degree of cordiality.

Our Favoritesreturn to top
Burrito Industry Hypereturn to top
  • Have burritos supplanted chowder in a sourdough bread bowl as the signature food of San Francisco?
  • For locals, unquestionably. Burritos are a conversational lightning rod in this city. And the cult of taquerias went overground years ago: Can-cún and La Taqueria regularly get written up glowingly in Zagat, travel magazines such as VIA do glossy spreads on the Mission, and didn’t Karl Malden used to periodically swing by La Cumbre back in his Streets of San Francisco days?

    How often does the average San Franciscan visit Fisherman’s Wharf? Approximately never? Even tourist demand is shifting, as there are now a few taquerias at, or adjacent to, the Wharf. It’s a safe bet that when the John Q. America family heads back home to Wichita, the kids will be bragging about how they downed a whole super burrito, not two ladles worth of half-warm soup housed in some leaky, yeasty contraption.

Information That Will Appeal To People Who Enjoy Feeling Like “Insiders”return to top
  • Do taquerias pay you to be listed on
  • They couldn’t pick us out of a police line-up. Anyway, our policy is to not accept any bribes or “advertising offers” (not that anyone’s ever made us an offer). Our field work is done totally undercover. Sometimes it’s even done undercover of the night.

  • How do you define “taqueria”?
  • For the purposes of this Web site, a taqueria (TAW-kuh-REE-uh, n.) is an establishment that serves burritos and takes its eat-in orders over a counter (as opposed to via table service). Said establishments are generally informal restaurants, but vendors operating from sidewalk windows or catering trucks (i.e. burrito wagons) qualify for inclusion on Taquerias that offer their food exclusively on a take-out basis also qualify.

    Basically, what all this means is that we don’t include any listings for Chevy’s.

  • How often do you visit taquerias?
  • Our first rule of thumb is to not eat burritos on consecutive days. So, we generally make visits on alternate days – sometimes every three days. Whatever the present schedule, it usually measures out to 8-12 taqueria visits a month. We’ve slowed down a bit from the 16 slabs we downed in July 2005.

    As for how often we visit each taqueria...ideally it’s at least once a year. Some of the most popular ones might call for more frequent visits, and of course we have our favorites that we enjoy dropping into whenever we can. But if a review of a certain taqueria seems overly dated, we certainly try to update it as soon as possible. Likewise, if a new place opens its doors, we prioritize it.

  • What if there's a new taqueria in town I can't find on
  • Don’t go defaming our character through a bullhorn on every street corner in town. Rather, kindly e-mail us at We rely heavily on the word on the street for news about openings, closures, and class-action lawsuits against establishments that serve “burrito bowls,” but no actual burritos.

  • What's your control in this experiment? Do you get the same kind of burrito at every taqueria you visit?
  • When this project began in 2003, we set out to eat a super carne asada burrito at each and every taqueria in San Francisco that year. We may have missed a few burritoterias along the way, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of looking. As such, the ensuing playoffs in winter of 2004 focused solely on super carne asada burritos.

    After a respite of several months from the burrito war-slogs, we returned to action in late 2004 with a broader palate and a rock-solid grasp of what we hope for in a super burrito. We now order most any kind of meat (we repeat, most) in our super burritos - and even the occasional vegetarian - but our choice of ingredients remains the same from visit to visit:

    “A super burrito with (insert meat choice here, or vegetarian), refried beans, no sour cream or lettuce, extra hot sauce, very spicy, with jalapeño peppers if you’ve got ’em back there.” (This assumes the given taqueria’s super burrito includes cheese and guacamole.)

    Rumors have swirled in the past that we chase every burrito with a glazed doughnut. We wish these charges weren’t totally bogus, but we’re afraid they are.

  • Do you ever visit taquerias outside San Francisco?
  • Of course. Tales of such sojourns even crop up from time to time on our friends’ resourceful site, We’ve had burritos in Napa, Woodland, El Centro, Oakland, Sacramento, and even at Taco The Town in Brisbane over the last few years. And it’s no mere footnote that our burrito-obsessive seeds were sown many years ago during frequent trips to San Luis Obispo’s Tacos Acapulco (later Tio Alberto’s, although everyone always just called the place T.A.’s) whenever we found ourselves on California’s central coast. But these days, diversions such as these are definitely exceptions – we try to save our reserves of burrito-eating energy for San Francisco taquerias.

    That said, tacos and tortas are generally fun roadfood, particularly in Central and Southern California.

  • How about those shawarma thingies? And what’s up with those wraps that were all the rage that one week in the summer of ’97?
  • Shawarmas are terrific – a bit drippy, but fun and tasty all the same. A few burstage abatement seminars wouldn’t hurt the cause for those nice guys over at Ali Baba’s Cave on Haight. Wraps? Those are pretty silly, aren’t they?

  • What’s your site’s demographic?
  • Well, locals interested in finding new taquerias in San Francisco certainly head the list. Also, San Francisco ex-pats who miss our civic food of the gods like to torture themselves on occasion - they drool all over their keyboards as they poke around the site. Beano’s gotten e-mail from Bangkok, Dakar, Casablanca, Cardiff, Maine, New York, Chicago, Idaho, Venice Beach, and San Diego that say as much.

  • What's's stance on Chipotle?
  • On one hand, it's nice to see that the world's most recognizable burrito brand has taken San Francisco's finest food export and brought it to the rest of the US. After all, when you're in Lincoln, Nebraska — or even New York, New York — and you've got a powerful burrito hankering something fierce, you could probably do a lot worse than a Chipotle slab. You pretty much always know what you're in for when you step up to a Chipotle burrito counter.

    On the other hand...after eating a number of the things over the years, we're of the resolute opinion that, despite consistently having a few fine ingredients in its arsenal, Chipotle (New York Stock Exchange symbol: CMG) couldn't properly construct a burrito if its investors' lives depended on it. (Perhaps you like skimpily foiled, softball-shaped burritos stuffed full of al dente cilantro-lime rice?) And since there's virtually zero variation from each Chipotle shop to the next, we'd rather focus our burrito-eating time and energy on the rest of San Francisco's cockeyed caravan of taquerias, not the nearly dozen Chipotle locations the Colorado-based company has carpet-bombed around town. When in Shanghai, do San Francisco's Chipotle loyalists eat at Panda Express?

    (We do offer a genuine standing ovation to Chipotle's charitable efforts toward California's painfully beleaguered state parks. Very nicely done.)

Notable Contributionsreturn to top
  • Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
  • We’d like to extend special thanks to Ryan Purves, designer/developer extraordinaire. He took our harebrained idea and turned it into a colorful, well-designed, harebrained idea that anyone can browse online.

    We’d also like to thank Goeppinger Tech Support / Server Space, Inc., as well as that fine lady over at Shin Spot Website Design & Marketing for all her help over the years.

    Aaron Best deserves our major gratitude for certain far-beyond-the-call contributions. He’s saved’s bacon-hinted vat of refried beans time and time again.

    And we’d be remiss to not individually thank Ryin Kobza, Tyler Reed, and Christian Frantz for their unwitting creative input.

    And anyone else who said, You know, you oughta do something with that.

Words That Frequently Or Never Appear On Burritoeater.comreturn to top