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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, May 2007back to archive

Bite. Chew. Mull. takes each of our taqueria visits from April, drops them into the Osterizer, punches the frappé button, and pours a fine smoothie of...never mind, that's going to sound gross.

This month's edition of Dear Beano is kind of like Jeopardy, only the questions actually precede the answers and it's not a game show at all.

Obstinate User Commentary distills a month's worth of user input into a few short Mascisian bursts of feedback. Bring earplugs.

And (epilogue) is so rad, it hurts.

Pull up a food.

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Not Chew. Bite. Mull. Not Mull. Chew. Bite. Not Bite. Mull. Chew.

From April's least mustachioed effort (La Carreta's limp-wristed descent into slabular sucktacularity) on through the highest-rated burrito of the month (a vibrant, 8.17-mustache winner at Cocina Poblana), our judges panel - all bright aspirations and dim bulbs - managed to deconstruct another 10 objects of foiled desire. Wait, did we say "deconstruct"? Sorry, we meant "eat, and rate."

And that 500-burrito milestone looms ever closer, all the while.

CHUNKY'S (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 4/2/07, Super Pollo Asado: 8.08 mustaches
By burrito’s end, critics were hailing this slab's ingredient integration as “seamless,” “harmonious,” and of course, “much better than Cats.”

COCINA POBLANA (Western Addition), 4/5/07, Super Carnitas: 8.17 mustaches
If it were 1965 and Cassius Clay were a taqueria, he’d be Cocina Poblana.

PANCHO'S (Laurel Heights), 4/7/07, Borracho Grilled Chicken: 7.75 mustaches
Pancho's handcrafted barbecue sauce – the main element that sets the Borracho apart from a garden variety super burrito – maintained the barrage of smoky flavor all slab long.

NICK'S CRISPY TACOS (Russian Hill), 4/10/07, Carnitas: 7.92 mustaches
The recent arrival here of delicious, moist Spanish rice caused an immediate upsurge in respect from our carb-appreciative judges panel.

TAQ. LA CUMBRE (Mission), 4/12/07, Super Puerco: 7.50 mustaches
We imagined seeing pencil drawings of La Cumbre’s fried pork alongside phrase-dictionary entries for “harmlessly effective,” “fair enough,” and of course, “’s seven-mustache rating for meats.”

EL SUPER BURRITO (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 4/16/07, Super al Pastor: 6.58 mustaches
Pork-inclusive moments were instantly overshadowed by the inexcusably lame salsa, every time. There wasn’t much to cheer here.

CUCO'S (Lower Haight), 4/20/07, Super Chicken Fajita: 8.08 mustaches
Smooth slabular sailing, full-mustachioed speed ahead, etc. etc. Here's the most consistent burrito production facility in San Francisco.

VICTOR'S (South of Market), 4/23/07, Super Breakfast (Bacon): 7.08 mustaches
The contentment on the face of the thinly mustachioed fellow on Victor’s sandwich board may gently persuade you into this ballpark-adjacent taqueria. You’re on your own after that.

LA TORTILLA (Castro), 4/26/07, Super Chile Relleno: 7.09 mustaches
All the warm smiles behind La Tortilla’s counter couldn’t save the Castro St. burrito shop’s latest bowling ball-sized slab from bouncing in and out (and back into) our critical gutter.

LA CARRETA TAQ. (Lower Haight), 4/30/07, Super Pollo Molé: 5.92 mustaches
A hopelessly woeful burrito. Pods of pulled chicken were mushier than the final season of Webster.

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Super Carnitas, Extra Crochety, Hold the Tact

It's time for another testy edition of our monthly exchange between resident taqueria sage Beano Cook and Joe and Jane Q. Public. Punchlines this time include: the worst taqueria in San Francisco; ill-informed Senatorial commentary; a faceless Peninsula suburb; facial foliage conflagrations that occurred in public; the whole notion of an "internship"; and of course, Joe Friday and Chipotle. Contextual support available below.

Want to get into Beano's kitchen? Can you stand the heat? Have at it: You've been warned, so don't say you weren't warned.

Dear Beano: My co-workers and I won a Cinco de Mayo office decoration competition, and we owe a lot to you (and our color printer). We used to print photos of every taqueria in town. People tagged ones they've visited with post-it notes, and as you can see, nobody in the office has been to Sonia's.
Dear Apocalypse reader: My heart has been warmed. That said, I expect some sort of kickback, at once. This isn't charity - these are the Internets! They're a series of tubes!!

Dear Beano: As a nod to my incurable case of Warriors fever, which local slab purveyor has made the biggest improvement in the last year?
Dear Apocalypse reader: Well, it's only May, so it's early yet. So far, however, our visit to El Norteño stands out as the greatest leap forward in 2007 - the South of Market truck came up a few beans short of the nine-mustache gods' country on March 6. Honorable mentions go out to Cocina Poblana, as well as Russian Hill slabberies Pancho's and Nick's Crispy Tacos - former Burritoeater whipping posts, both.

Dear Beano: Your world is too small. I'm still waiting for you to discover life on the Peninsula, especially the Coastside. Half Moon Bay's Tres Amigos draws some big-name clientele, while Happy Taco and El Gran Amigo still await your tasters. Get out of town once in a while and give us the Peninsular advice we need.
Dear Apocalypse reader: The Coastside? I've got no truck with Montara, with Moss Beach, with El Granada. Nice spots. But don't ask me to head east, because you know what's over that ridge? Well, for starters, there's San Carlos - a real one-mustache town. And right next to San Carlos? Belmont. Good grief, not Belmont.

Dear Beano: Would you be so kind as to tell me the spiciest burrito you know of in San Francisco?
Dear Apocalypse reader: I won't be kind, but I'll answer your question. Taq. San Jose in the Mission slung me an absurdly scorching slab last year. Usually I revel in such flameshoveling, but this was beyond the pale. A few hours later, I found myself entertaining tourists at Union Square with my newfound fire-breathing routine. Good times, until my mustache caught aflame.

Dear Beano: Do your interns have to "guinea pig" suspect taquerias before your heinous steps foot in them?
Dear Apocalypse reader: Buddy, at my age, I'm just lucky to be able drag my Depends-swaddled ass out of the house. My interns put me on a mile-high pedestal. I impart decades of taqueria experience, and in turn, they get to include the revered title, "Beano Lackey," on their resumés. Measly per diems are dispensed, symbiotic relationships are fostered, young careers are cultivated, and I get to stay home and watch Dragnet re-runs. When that new Chipotle opens on Market St. shortly, don't look for me at the ribbon-cutting.

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There's a Wagon, Get On In

Nothing stokes the fires of healthy debate quite like a densely populated city packed to the gills with 169 burrito shops. Of course, if you're into having gills in your burritos, we'd rather not hear from you.

Don't point - speak!:

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

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"I just had one heck of a burrito from the El Tonayense truck at Harrison and 19th. I ordered a super carne asada, but it was so full of sour cream that it might've well have been a super stroganoff. Not a bad thing, though. I've always considered myself a Farolito man, but you'd better take me to the magic of the moment on a glory night, 'cause I think I hear the winds of change."

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"Ethel Mae's, the southern place your site lists in Oceanview, sounds crazy! I never would have known it existed if not for your diligence. It has to be the only place in San Francisco where you can get grits (instead of chips) with your burrito."
(...And it appears to have shut down last month. So sad. -Ed.)

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"What's up with that crazy mural next to the front door at El Taco Loco on Mission? You know what I'm talking about, right?"
(The "stem"? It's ridiculous, yes. -Ed.)

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Yours, in delicious horchata,