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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, March 2007back to archive

Bite. Chew. Mull. is what it is. Of course it is. What else would it be? What a useless turn of phrase.

This month's Dear Beano is particularly abrasive. Fortunately, Captain Marvel and the Hamburger Helper drop in to save the day.

Down in Obstinate User Commentary, readers weigh in on Tacos San Buena, Taq. El Jalapeño, and the mighty Taq. El Castillito. Angst remains remarkably minimal.

(epilogue) addresses a number of controversial issues plaguing contemporary society - the most notable of which, possibly, is how to unsubscribe from this weird newsletter that frames a bunch of esoteric references with blather about burritos.

Pull up a food, Paddy.

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Eight Was Enough

It took a premeditated trip to current OMR chart-topper La Castro Taq. to break the sorry string of 21 consecutive sub-eight-mustache slabs on Burritoeater record (going back to the first week of December), but the curse was finally broken about halfway through February. Among the eight visits we squeezed in throughout the month, foiled success stories came courtesy of the Civic Center edition of Taq. El Castillito, and also from Pancho's Russian Hill shop, which was a noted surprise given how much we reviled the place on our last visit in 2005. On the other hand, La Fajita Grill completely stymied our sense of purpose with a burrito described in the Blargh as "more all over our mustachioed map than Rick Steves out on a three-week travel bender with Rand McNally and the Thomas Bros." Meanwhile, Fisherman's Wharf's newest slabbery, Comal Taq., was pretty much a travesty any way we looked at it. Now here's Phil with the weather.

EL FARO (Financial District), 2/2/07, Fajita Carne Asada: 7.83 mustaches
Clearly, the Jack Klugman burrito. Steak-umm, don't hurt 'em.

COMAL TAQ. (Fisherman's Wharf), 2/5/07, Super Carne Asada: 6.00 mustaches
We couldn't wait to be done with this burrito, and that's a real bad sign. Just awful.

ETHEL MAE'S SOUTHERN CAFE & TAQ. (Oceanview), 2/8/07, Supremo Carne Asada: 7.42 mustaches
Given the spirited entrees that make Ethel Mae’s menu the eclecti-fest that it is, we were aghast at this burrito’s sledgehammering blandness. Next time, we head straight for the okra.

LA CASTRO TAQ. (Castro), 2/11/07, Super Pollo Asado: 8.67 mustaches
This was the curse-buster. The tortilla was typically grilled to the point of mercy, its texture as cracked as the Death Valley floor...only much, much less salty.

TAQ. EL CASTILLITO (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 2/15/07, Super Breakfast (Chorizo): 8.69 mustaches
A squadron of soaring elements saw to this burrito’s spot in the first-class cabin of our judges panel’s early-morning flight.

ZONA ROSA (Upper Haight), 2/21/07, Super Carnitas: 7.75 mustaches
Unspectacularly enjoyable, facelessly effective. Welcome to Zona Rosa.

PANCHO'S (Russian Hill), 2/26/07, Borracho Steak: 8.25 mustaches
The biggest sources of satisfaction: Robust vegetables, marvelously pasty black beans, stellar sauciness, and a harmonious ingredient mix from which we could all learn a thing or two about getting along. The first round of fist pumps is on us.

LA FAJITA GRILL (Castro), 2/28/07, La Fajita Steak: 7.17 mustaches
This slab’s bipolar tale was told by each clanging response for every two swishes registered. We found the whole affair flummoxing.

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Tags: foil, Nayonaise, probation, stooges, blehlchelbrrp, Tastykake, Shazam!

What's with the third degree here? Why are you getting all nosy? You're lobbing these probing questions at me, and you're demanding instant answers. Is this the Spanish Inquisition or something? Back off, bub. E-mail my attorney at He's an avowed taqueria sage. He'll help you.

Dear Beano: I was just browsing the taqueria listings for South of Market, and your link to Luna Taq.'s health violations confirmed what I had already expected about the place - naughty and dirty. Beano, you are set to cruise control on the highway of sainthood. You have protected us from sure gastronomic disaster (gristle + microbes = blehlchelbrrp). We hope to see you in either Moses-eque robes or a superhero's costume very soon.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Aw, go on. Anyway, at my age, I probably wouldn't win too many friends if I were to gussy myself up in a bunch of Shazam! get-up. Or worse yet, as the four-fingered Hamburger Helper. Thanks, though.

Dear Beano: I couldn't help but notice that, in a review about El Faro on Kearny, you likened the burrito to a cheesesteak. And that you needed a "Tastykake chaser," and wanted to take the bus down to the Spectrum. Are you from Philly?
Dear Apocalypse reader: Let's put it this way...I always carry a couple D-cells in my pocket when I walk through San Francisco's sketchier neighborhoods. I prefer bludgeoning my potential assailants with alkaline, like when we used to hurl battery-inclusive snowballs at Tony Dorsett at the Vet. OK, I'm pulling your chain - I'm really from King of Prussia.

Dear Beano: El Farolito at 24th and Mission used to be my favorite spot to soak up alcohol. Now, the green salsa has turned thick and full of the avocado that used to be so amazing in its lacking-ness. And the cheese has gone from its previous starchy-good consistency to near-Nayonaise flaccidity. Where can DJ Roast Beef turn his drunken donkey cart at 1:30 A.M. in the Mission these days? Help a brother out.
Dear Apocalypse reader: First of all, you said "flaccidity." Second of all, you shouldn't drink so much, you inebriated mule. Third of all, there's a host of late-night alternatives to El Farolito in that area: Taq. El Taco Loco; Taq. San Jose; Taq. Can-cún; or, Taq. El Castillito, which was recently voted "Taqueria at Which You're Most Likely to Find Someone Who Will Sell You Cut-Rate Numchuks." Don't bother with Taq. Vallarta - it's still shuttered, and on crippling probation with the SFDPH. And be sure to carry some D-cells with you around there at that hour.

Dear Beano: Offer me a position as your breakfast burrito reviewer at-large, so you can incorporate into your splendid site reviews from someone who appreciates the unique and critical role the breakfast burrito plays in our daily lives.
Dear Apocalypse reader: My word. Job-hunting wasn't nearly this easy and direct in my day. Do you mind being compensated in used shards of aluminum foil? You don't? Contact my assistant's assistant at once.

Dear Beano: While I enjoy your latest taqueria mapping project and respect your task of analyzing the city's neighborhoods insofar as taqueria quality, I can't disguise the fact that I think you've lost all sense of reason by classifying the Inner Sunset and Glen Park as "superb," and the Mission a cut below as merely "reliable." And since I’m raging against your screwball machine here, I don’t trust burritos north of Sutter. Even that’s pushing it.
Dear Apocalypse reader: You live in a very small world, don’t you? Have you checked the March Blargh? It features a concise, neighborhood-by-neighborhood rundown of the Northside taqueria scene. Granted, there are a few places in those parts that seem to cater exclusively to empty-headed stooges, and their brood. But to be fair, some diamonds exist in them roughs. Get out more!

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Wherein We Pretend to Care What Our Readers Think

Put down that megaphone, step off that silly soapbox, back away from that podium. There are better ways to get your point across these days. E-mail your taqueria-related comments, anecdotes, and by all means, opinions to You look like an oaf wearing that sandwich board, anyway.

(Comments may be edited for spelling, clarity, and/or brevity at our editorial board's discretion.)

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"I was trailing the Tacos San Buena truck on Howard for a couple blocks on my way home from work the other night. It's not often you pick up tailwind from one of your favorite restaurants."

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"El Jalapeño on Ocean Ave. changed owners sometime late last fall. The menu hasn't changed much, but the quality has gone down. It's a family-owned place, and the teenager they had rolling burritos for awhile was a disaster - slow service, ingredients not properly mixed, random proportions. The woman who runs the place is good, but not very friendly, and lately there's been a man her age (brother? husband?) there who's quite friendly, but not terribly great. Overall, I'm much less inclined to go there since the change."

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"Admiring as I am of your monthly discourse on the foil-wrapped delights of our fair city, I wish to point out a constant and discomforting oversight. El Castillito on Church between 14th and Duboce is generally portrayed by your good selves as a solid, if unremarkable, establishment, an understandable position were it not for the chicken-based delights available from this haven. Indeed, I believe a regular with chicken, refried beans, hot salsa and cilantro (no onions) to be amongst the tastiest offerings this, or any other, city has to offer. And being adjacent to almost every MUNI line, El Castillito also has the most impressive public transport connections one could wish for. I urge you to avail yourself of its chickeny goodness as soon as you are able."
(You write with such "gravitas." Couldn't agree more with you on that particular Castillito shop's attributes. We've got nine glowing reviews on file. It even brought home the bronze medal in last fall's Slab Scrum. El Castillito, alright. -Ed.)

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Please forward freely, yet responsibly.

Newsletter subscription addition/removal requests, questions, comments, and/or anecdotes always welcome:

We continue to refuse to try the ojo taco at El Cachanilla. Please stop asking.

Kindly direct news of taqueria openings, closures, or name-changes here:

The Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly,, and The Great Mustache logo are exclusive properties of The Exploding Head Trick Publishing Co. © 2003-2007. They're ours and you can't have them, unless perhaps you ask our legal team politely. And even then, those hammerheads will probably hit you with a six-figure licensing fee that will have you seeing stars and us seeking telephone numbers for any number of offshore banks. Or perhaps we'll just send a bunch of D-cell-brandishing goons your way.

Yours, in delicious horchata,