the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, February 2005back to archive
This ain't no apple pie hubbub. This is the burrito blargh.

This month:

- IAW/IAM Back Issues Now Available: Complete Your Collection!
- Double The Mustaches, Double The Fun: Introducing the 10-Mustache Scale™
- Website Update: Website Update
- Shaking Hands With Beef, Pork, Chicken, and Tongue All Over Town: January’s Burritos (and Everybody’s)
- Letters To The Apocalypse: Readers Speak!

Apologies in advance for the mess – we got sesos all over our notes. So some stuff is hard to read.

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Wherein We Plug

Do you enjoy stuff? How about things? Inbox not cluttered enough?

All 13 issues of the Intestinal Apocalypse Weekly, which enjoyed a three-month run from December 2003 to March 2004, remain available. Order any issue now and also receive the somewhat outdated, but continually entertaining tome Meaty Beany Big and Bouncy, which chronicles in no uncertain detail what we thought at the time was a complete but later learned was actually a slightly incomplete tour of San Francisco taquerias throughout 2003. Relive the playoff excitement that kept you warm all last winter. Gasp all over again at how Taqueria San Francisco completely choked on its own carne asada during the last taqueria visit of the finals. Revel one year later in the brilliance of playoff champion Papalote’s mechanical, cool-handed precision. Scratch your head at sesos joke after tiresome sesos joke. And they’re so versatile: These newsletters can be worn to parties by simply printing them out and fashioning them into paper hats.

Copies of last month’s inaugural Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly also remain available. Say you were there when the dumb bullshit started all over again.

Or for the coffee table of the no-life ubercollector, we offer all of the above bundled as one giganto boxed set. This collectible item includes unreleased bits such as rough sketches of reviews, litanies against lo-carb wraps later edited out of published newsletters, and a few used napkins from a June 2003 visit to El Castillito. (Released by Bear Family. Available exclusively as German import. Free bonus taco in every box.)

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Wherein We Update That Worn-Out Adage About Two Hands Being Better Than One

When you work in the realm of public study, you want your data to be as lucid as possible. You want to get its point across forcefully, cogently. You want to communicate eloquently, yet directly. This is no place for lollygagging. This is the Internet.

That’s why we use Pepcid AC.

More to the point, that’s also why we’ve decided to make the Great Leap Forward by pumping up our ratings index 100%. Why? Well, it just seems to make sense. And because we want to.

This conversion is heavily dependent upon a complex formula known in mathematical circles as “multiplying by two.” Let us explain.

What was a solidly recommended 4.13-mustache burrito from Los Compadres is now a solidly recommended 8.26-mustache burrito from Los Compadres.

What was a disgusting 1.00-mustache slab of bog sludge from La Placita is now a disgusting 2.00-mustache slab of bog sludge from La Placita.

And so on, and so forth.

This conversion will further codify our ratings index by aligning it with the universal standard. Also, it will eventually make our content more profitably licensable to sites whose tin-brained users simply cannot process rating things on a mere five-point system. Actually, those last two sentences are a bunch of complete hoohaw, but we are doubling all our burrito ratings going back to 2003. And someday we’ll be showered with gooey praise like we were “ahead of our time.”

But that day is not today.

The 10-Mustache Scale™:

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, more rare than you’d think.
8.00 - 8.99 mustaches: Recommended with varying degrees of vim/vigor, despite certain forgivable flaws. Often among the best work in town.
7.00 - 7.99 mustaches: Burrito purgatory.
6.00 – 6.99 mustaches: The not-so-bearable portrait of mediocrity.
5.00 – 5.99 mustaches: Heavy on calories, carbohydrates; pathetically light on actual quality. Hrumph.
4.99 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.

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Wherein We Update The Status Of Embryonic

Offers for server space: Check.
List generated of all San Francisco taquerias: Check.
List populated with key information on each taqueria: Check, mostly.
All archive reviews edited: Coming along very nicely.
Photographs taken of each taqueria: Check.
Dining visit to each previously unvisited taqueria: Um, working on that.
Business cards and logo: Getting there.
Waiter: Check, please.
Services of site developer secured: Eh, not quite yet.
Titanic launch party: In the works. Beck might play.

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Wherein We Offer Blow-By-Blow Accounts Of Last Month’s Taqueria Visits – Bean By Bean, Tongue By Tongue

(*Asterisks around taqueria name indicate a recommendation*)

--> 7.36 mustaches <--
2288 Mission nr. 19th St. (Mission) 1/5/05
$3.80 - Vegetarian
When in Can-cún, do as the vegetarians do. Cheers to the grilled tortilla, the meter-rattling spiciness, and the masterful ingredient mix. Jeers to the vaguely unimpressive size, late burstage, notably inconspicuous avocado, and limp feel that characterizes most veggie burritos. And the soggy bottom was nothing more than a sieve-like bummer. Much-vaunted, but is it worth the hype? Hmm. Are we ready for your hate mail? Absolutely.

--> 8.26 mustaches <--
1836 Divisadero btwn. Bush/Pine (Western Addition)
$8.25 - Jumbo Chile Colorado (Pork in Red Sauce)
It’s jumbo, they ain’t kidding: 14 inches + two tortillas = one mackin’ burrito. So you see, size wasn’t really the issue here. Neither was delicious sauce (it came from all sides), high-charting spiciness, and the sagacious mix. In fact, our only complaints seemed to be with the chewy tortilla and semi-melted cheese, and maybe the unexciting veggies as well (cilantro excepted). Got a spare stomach lying around the house? Bring it.

--> 8.58 mustaches <--
Treat at 23rd St. (Mission) 1/11/05
$4.75 - Super Al Pastor
With the exception of ordinary pork that seemed distinctly steak-ish at times, this truck-spawned burrito ran the table, with no other category receiving a rating under eight mustaches – and with many receiving nine or even a perfect ten. Few slabs can claim 40 shades of sauce in their arsenal (or so it seemed from the looks of things), and a number of long-cut onion pieces further sent El Gallo Giro’s young stock flying.

--> 7.34 mustaches <--
4817 Mission nr. Russia (Excelsior) 1/16/05
$4.90 - Super Lengua
The burrito that, once upon a time, could have licked back. 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 extremely 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.

--> 8.00 mustaches <--
2893 Mission at 25th St. (Mission) 1/18/05
$5.50 - Super Carne Asada
A flummoxing entry, and perhaps not as strong as its eight mustaches suggest. Sure, the inclusion of a big, spice-enhancing green pepper was a welcome diversion from the norm, and the pico de gallo ruled the school. But the cheese was merely half-melted, and the steak – as nicely chopped as it may have been – wasn’t anything to go home and wake the neighbors over. Dispassionate dining at its most shoulder-shrugging.

--> 7.08 mustaches <--
101 Spear at Mission, inside One Rincon Center
(Financial District / Embarcadero) 1/21/05
$6.25 – Super Chile Verde Pork
In its previous incarnation as Taqueria Aguililla, this place was infamous for littering their burritos with shredded lettuce and more shredded lettuce when you weren’t watching. These days, they’ve weaned themselves off that sorry habit, but cold bites and a constant hind end drip remain ongoing scourges. The burrito wasn’t a total disaster, however, as truckloads of spice, mighty tasty vegetable content (particularly the guacamole), and gigantic pieces of fine pork picked up some of the slack.

--> 8.75 mustaches <--
663 Haight btwn. Pierce/Steiner (Lower Haight)
$7.75 – Beef Fajita
One hell of a burrito, even though we’ve elected to pay it off in installments. Everything was gorgeously prepared in a Papalote-esque kind of way, and nothing tripped up – although the tortilla could have been more lovingly grilled, the guacamole could have played a greater role, and the whole thing could have used a bit more spice-heat. But it was more than respectably sized, it was a veritable rainforest of lush sauce, and the steak’s smoky aroma screamed MEAT-ELIXIR.

--> 7.92 mustaches <--
928 Geneva nr. Mission (Excelsior / Crocker Amazon)
$5.65 - Super Al Pastor
Long and slender, with virtually vacuum-packed ingredients like juicy, extraordinarily tasty barbecued pork and tender avocado carrying the day, even as less savory aspects (semi-incognito sauce, too much rice, a segregated mix) reared up every few bites. We forgave the minor sauce soak-through near the end, since it was abundantly clear that this burrito’s maker ought to teach Cheese-Melting 101.

--> 5.92 mustaches <--
380 Bush nr. Kearny (Financial District) 1/28/05
$5.25 - Super Carne Asada
Although the best thing about this burrito was its fine construction, we almost wanted it to fall apart just to see exactly how many cubic feet of rice had been stuffed inside. The cavalcade of mishaps came faster than we could track: Unmelted cheese, gravely unpleasant bean-sludge, a brutally arid interior, and an ingredient mix only a confirmed stooge could appreciate. Even the steak was lamesville.

Note: Occasionally in this space, we’ll try to include a review of a burrito from further afield. This time: Napa. You’ve heard of Napa. They filmed “Falcon Crest” there.

--> 8.58 mustaches <--
3069 Jefferson nr. Lincoln (Napa) 1/6/05
$5.75 - Super Carne Asada
Four perfect ratings – for delectable sauciness, fire-breathing spice, textbook ingredient mix, and rock-solid construction – tell no lie. Despite the lack of a foil sheath (Reynolds Wrap apparently hasn’t yet broken into the Napa market), the presence of lettuce, and a patch of unmelted cheese, this burrito hit home in a way that rivals more storied, urbane burritos 50 miles to the south. Let’s hear it for the swine country.

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Wherein We Assume Our Position In The Virtual Dunk Tank Of Public Cross-Examination

Dear Beano: I was at a basketball game recently, and at halftime they had this contest where these guys dressed up as burritos and had a race to see who could roll from one side of the court to the other faster. The winner won a burrito from a local joint.
Beano reacts: And the loser had to eat at La Placita?

Dear Beano: Your thoughts on barbacoa. Please.
Beano reacts: Um, isn’t that barbecued face meat?

Dear Beano: So glad to hear that the networks have renewed the Intestinal Apocalypse for another season. Bravo! What twists and turns will occur this season? Will there be a touring version for the kids? Frijoles on Ice? Very jealous that I can't be your boy Viernes and do your HTML and reap all those free burritos.
Beano reacts: Which reminds us of our five least favorite kinds of burritos...
    5 – barbacoa
    4 – abalone
    3 – beans and ice
    2 - gherkin
    1 – sesos (duh)

Dear Beano: Hey, what’s your truck against ham sandwiches?
Beano reacts: Just as there are a handful of burrito trucks in San Francisco – seven, by present count – surely there must be a ham sandwich truck trolling our streets, pitching its hammy wares.

Dear Bono: How’s saving the world going? Where do you find the time to eat these burritos with all your band commitments? I still love The Joshua Tree – great stuff.
Beano reacts: We have to wonder how much of our mail Bono gets.

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Forward as freely as you see fit.

List addition/removal requests, questions, comments, and/or anecdotes always welcome and encouraged:

yours, in delicious horchata,