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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, April 2008back to archive

Bite. Chew. Mull. takes the ball and runs with it.

Dear Beano strips that same ball from Bite. Chew. Mull. and lumbers a few yards in the other direction.

Obstinate Reader Commentary then flattens Dear Beano, scoops up the ball, and heads upfield.

Finally, (epilogue) tosses a penalty flag and mercifully halts this silly, out-of-season fiasco of a motif.

Club Slab is open. Pull up a food.

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Add Ten More Foil Remnants To The Towering Pile

Our ten taqueria visits throughout March resulted in several outstanding burritos, the highest rated coming from our longtime desert island taqueria, Taq. San Francisco. Newcomers Herbert's Mexican Grill and Taq. El Castillito (a just-opened fourth location) also came through big, as did lunch-only nook Maya (Next Door).

If only all our slabular excursions had been so successful. Our panel narrowly withstood a three-burrito, five-day taste bud massacre late in the month, with dumb visits to Taq. Pancho Villa (Embarcadero location) and Chino's Taq. bookending a positively loathsome, 5.67-mustache burrito at Rubio's in the Financial District. (Rubio's! In the Financial District! Of course it was bound to suck.) A strong offering from Taq. Castillo on Mason St. helped right our suddenly ailing vessel, S.S. Slab, on the month's final day.

TAQ. SAN FRANCISCO (Mission), 3/1/2008, Super Chile Relleno: 8.73 mustaches
Oh yes.

HERBERT'S MEXICAN GRILL (Union Square), 3/4/2008, Super Carne al Pastor: 8.42 mustaches
Most every element made a guest appearance on Today in Eight-Mustache-or-Better Moments with the Burritoeater Judges Panel. Then we went shopping!!!

TAQ. EL CASTILLITO (Golden Gate/Hyde) (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 3/8/2008, Super al Pastor: 8.33 mustaches
We dream of a day when San Francisco is home to more El Castillitos than Starbucks. Four of these places just aren't enough.

LOS COMPADRES (South of Market), 3/11/2008, Super al Pastor: 7.50 mustaches
Our sizable lunch from Los Compadres was either swinging for the fences or shuffling back to the dugout after yet another whiff. We got riced hard here, and it sort of hurt.

LA CORNETA TAQ. (Glen Park), 3/15/2008, Super Molé de Pollo: 8.00 mustaches
What’s with adding cheese to the burrito ingredient party last? We don’t get that. La Corneta's quarter-fed weight scale near its restroom door is also worth noting.

MAYA (NEXT DOOR) (South of Market), 3/20/2008, Shredded Chicken Tinga: 8.42 mustaches
This little place may well have entered its Heavyweight Contender phase with this hunky and delicious near-masterpiece. Requirement for masterpiece qualification: vegetables, any of them.

TAQ. PANCHO VILLA (Financial District), 3/22/2008, Especial Steak Fajitas: 6.17 mustaches
Of course we tend to scoff at forks in our line of work. But we were left with no choice here, as Mr. Villa's boneheaded construction aesthetic eventually turned our meal into Jabba the Hut. Boo.

RUBIO'S (Financial District), 3/24/2008, Especial Carnitas: 5.67 mustaches
Ladies and gentlemen, there's a new lampshade-wearing stooge at the San Francisco taqueria fete. White chipotle salsa in a burrito? Good grief, what's next? Clam chowder in a burrito bowl? A refried bean reduction sauce?

CHINO'S TAQ. (Outer Richmond), 3/26/2008, Super Carnitas: 6.58 mustaches
Due to this slab's thrice-steamed tortilla, stickiness here harked back to Post-It Notes we’ve snacked on during times of particular destitution.

TAQ. CASTILLO (Mason) (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 3/31/2008, Super Carne Asada: 8.17 mustaches
Spice choogled fiercely the further down we drilled, and we were happy with the strong final set of bites. Onions!!

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Comes Complete With Complimentary Dude Interlude

Can you really have the cheese melted in your burrito and eat it, too? Is there a future revenue stream in burrito-aging services? Is our deskless, in-house taqueria sage the "straight-up connoisseur" certain readers believe him to be?

Mr. Cook tackles these tough questions posed by and, uh, readers alike. There are times when the questions are tough in a hard-taqueria-news sense, sure. But nearly as often, they're just tough for him to answer.

Try your luck! You could win a side of guac:

Dear Beano: You really struck gold with -- you have shirts and everything! I hope I don't sound a little jealous, but I wish I'd done it first. My friends and I used to discuss building a burrito site several years ago, and I think one of the names someone came up with was BurritoRater. Funny that you ended up using it.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Thank you very much -- I feel as if I've won the lottery with someone else's ticket I picked up off the sidewalk. Also, what's ""?

Dear Beano: In all your taqueria visits, have you ever asked to have the cheese melted on the tortilla first? There's nothing worse than when I see a place that adds the cheese at the end. I think it melts in just fine if it's added on top of the beans (I don't eat meat), but not on top of the various vegetable "condiments." I did once try to get the person making my burrito to put the cheese on first -- before steaming the tortilla -- and she looked at me as if I were mad. Then she ignored my request.
Dear Apocalypse reader: As a customer, you've got rights. Invoke them! There are certain taquerias in San Francisco where a chaotic ordering system makes it tricky to communicate to the person assembling your foiled food when you'd like the cheese added. And as you might expect, if you get a burrito-maker with a Bonds-sized ego, you can bet on getting some static in return when you try to tell the person "how" to "do" his/her job. Stand tall and remember that it helps to just be yourself in potentially difficult situations like these, especially if you're lucky enough to be the sort of person who isn't afraid to embarrass yourself in public by throwing a total conniption fit in order to get your way. Alternately, you could just go to El Castillito or any other local burrito shop where the folks in the kitchen don't require any sort of hand-holding.
(Readers with particular interest in the best and not-so-best among local taqueria ordering systems will want to read this month's Blargh. - Ed.)

Dear Beano: Dude.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Dude.

Dear Beano: Yesterday at Gordo on Clement, I ordered a super carnitas with refried beans and everything: guacamole, cheese, pico de gallo (they call it “tomatoes”), and hot sauce. Life interfered and I didn’t get a chance to eat my slab until two hours later. 20 seconds in the microwave got it hot again, and it was better than any fresh, young burrito I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a few. Do you think a burrito-aging service might have merit, sort of like affineurs who age cheese? I can have a business plan on your desk in 20 minutes.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Firstly, that's one world-class microwave oven you've got. Secondly, the upstairs brass here at Burritoeater Towers gave my desk to a 21-year-old intern last month, so you'll have to deliver your cockeyed business plan to this upside-down cardboard box I'm using that I found over in Portsmouth Square. Burrito-aging? Have you just gone bananas? We're dealing with sliced avocado here, not cases of '77 Inglenook rosé -- which, incidentally, I use as a desk at home.

Dear Beano: Hey, I was wondering who I'd talk to about some serious burrito discussion/consumption. Someone whose palate can be completely realistic -- straight-up connoisseur, burrito culture police, autistic-savant transcendental. I've got some heavy slab cred of my own...had my first one in SF in summer 2001 (pollo y sesos). Now total roughly 2500...a burrito a day ever since.
Dear Apocalypse reader: I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you lost me around the time of "burrito culture police." Actually, you may have lost me at "Dear Beano." Kindly look into translation services for "autistic-savant transcendental" as it pertains to the field of taqueria criticism, then re-send.

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Lost: This Feature's Obstinance. Please Return At Once. Reward Offered.

Genteel brevity seems to be a central theme among this month's submissions, so we'll keep it nice and short as well. Got taqueria related-commentary? OK, send that here:

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

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"Working in the Financial District and finding quality burritos isn't easy. But there is a good truck, Tacos San Buena, in the parking lot at Sansome and Pacific. It's either that, or I catch MUNI to Market and 6th -- Taq. Cancún down there isn't bad, although the neighborhood is."

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"So sad to hear about La Castro's recent closure. I had two incredible al pastors there, and had been looking forward to another visit."

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"I'm sure you noticed in today's Chronicle Magazine that La Taqueria was excluded from the annual list of the top 100 Bay Area restaurants. I'm also sure Burritoeater HQ is heartbroken over this."
(We're crestfallen, although the complete absence of San Francisco taquerias is cause for concern. No Papalote, even?. - Ed.)

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