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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, November 2009back to archive

Our biggest crowd-pleaser, Bite. Chew. Mull., rounds up our nine October taqueria visits with all the grace and aplomb of a fox in a hen house.

Dear Beano features intelligent commentary on today's most vexing societal dilemmas, including burrito truck phobia and the existence of rabbi-approved burritos. Hot new releases also unveiled!

Need a reminder that free speech is alive and well in today's America? Then Obstinate Reader Commentary may not be for you.

And (epilogue) carves the turkey in all the wrong places.

Pull up a food!

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"Given the barely-there impact this kid-sized burrito had, we may as well have had a 22 oz. bottle of oxygen for breakfast."
--> Tlaloc Sabor Mexicano, 10/19/2005

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Like a Monthly "Greatest Hits," Only Without the Two Obligatory New Tracks

Oh sure, there was kalua pork. There was also some mayo verde to deal with. There was even a fixed planar closed curve. All in all, just another month out on the San Francisco taqueria tiles.

October kicked down one hall-of-fame slab (El Burrito Express, Outer Sunset edition), another major damage-doer (2008 Slab Scrum champ El Norteño), and several other big winners (Papalote in the Mission, Sunset Taq., Taq. La Paz, Cilantro) — all of which left our usually surly judges panel fully gruntled. Pancho's near Laurel Heights and Público may not have reached the eight-mustache promised land on their latest forays behind our critical woodshed, but they certainly saved a hell of a lot more face than disgraced Tonayense Taq., the only true stooge on our October docket.

SUNSET TAQ. (Outer Sunset), 10/6/2009, Kalua Pork: 8.33 mustaches
Sunset's pork essentially came off like a smokier pull of carnitas, but why so damn expensive? What is this, Honolulu? This isn't Honolulu.

TAQ. LA PAZ (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 10/8/2009, Super Carne Molida: 8.17 mustaches
This burrito’s unusually cylindrical shape gave our science-dropping panel the chance to use “fixed planar closed curve” in the review. Rad.

EL NORTEÑO (South of Market), 10/12/2009, Super Lamb: 8.75 mustaches
Nuttin but devastatingly flavorful mutton. Well OK, actually much more: avocado slices, cilantro, and much onion made it happen here, all slab long. Last year's Scrum champ continues to have the knack.

CILANTRO (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 10/15/2009, Cilantro Beef: 8.17 mustaches
On-point beef, a bunch of alluringly smoky pinto beans, and marinated brown mushrooms had our panel recalling steakhouse meals of yore, before this whole burrito thing got so out of hand in the 1980s.

EL BURRITO EXPRESS (Outer Sunset), 10/17/2009, Breakfast (Chorizo): 9.00 mustaches
Another nine-mustache burrito from the Burrito Train on Taraval, the second in a little over one year’s time. Slab of the Month, October 2009.

TONAYENSE TAQ. (Mission), 10/21/2009, Super Carne Asada: 6.75 mustaches
Crikey, what is this mayo verde-stained bilge they're serving here these days? It’s zero-mustache intangibility experiences like this that incite nightmares.

PÚBLICO (South of Market), 10/25/2009, Al Pastor: 7.75 mustaches
Something in the roast pork’s belligerent sauce wasn’t quite right. But respectability still persevered.

PAPALOTE (Mission), 10/28/2009, Super Breakfast (Chorizo con Huevo): 8.38 mustaches
Business as usual at Papalote: a fantastically grilled tortilla, melted cheese in all the right places, moron-proof construction, and more hot bites than there are snug pants on the legs of young men in the Mission these days.

PANCHO'S (Laurel Heights), 10/31/2009, Fajita Carnitas: 7.83 mustaches
In which an attempt at clever wordplay falls completely flat. Hey, it can't be “fixed planar closed curve” every time.

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"Admittedly, the chipotle sauce was an awkward shade of light orange, but we're not judging a beauty pageant here. If only."
--> Zona Rosa, 6/3/2006

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He's a One-Man Cold War

The codgerly fellow at the end of the counter mumbling, “Shiver me timbers,” after each bite of his sesos burrito? That’s Beano Orenthal James Cook, and he’s one of ours. When he’s not castigating the counter staff at La Taqueria for charging him a dollar extra so his burrito won't include beans, he’s actually kind of an approachable. So, we prop him up in front of his Apple II once a month to field all our taqueria-related inquiries. The gray mustache lends credibility.

Ring his bell at, if you dare. Mwah-ha, etc. etc.

Dear Beano: Are there any kosher burrito shops in San Francisco?
Dear Apocalypse reader: It's doubtful. The demand for pastrami burritos made with rye tortillas, hold the mayo verde, is kind of limited here.

Dear Beano: I work right by the El Norteño truck and had planned to try it today, but despite the long line I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't even eat meat, so I'm not sure what my hold-up is. Maybe I need to find a few others and start a self-help group devoted to burrito truck phobia.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Yeah, get over it, sissyneck.

Dear Beano: Have you heard that new song by Vampire Weekend called “Horchata"?
Dear Apocalypse reader: Uh-uh. Have you heard Tonayense Bilge Pump Surprise? Look for their split 10" EP with GuacaFIASCO next month — I'll be putting it out on my Slabular Records imprint. Limited edition of 75. Actual aluminum foil sleeves and all. Also available digitally on iTunes in the new year (without the aluminum foil.) Record release party at the Rickshaw Stop on Pearl Harbor Night...pretty sure Har Har Hardy Har Har, Kenochamp, and Gee That's A Large Beetle I Wonder If It's Poisonous are also on the bill.

Dear Beano: Is your mustache-rating system getting a little more lax, or are these places that are suddenly firing out nine-mustache burritos all at once really that on their game? You've been at this for several years now (since 2003?) your judges panel growing soft in its veteran years?
Dear Apocalypse reader: 2003, yes. Does anyone remember 2003? Burritos were 35 cents then, and of course, we all drank horchata from large communal wooden buckets. Those were simpler times, but our critical acumen hasn't changed through the years. We're just as hard-charging now whenever we blow into a burrito shop as we were back then. Certain taquerias — The Little Chihuahua, Gordo Taq., El Burrito Express, La Laguna Taq. — have simply gotten on major winning streaks at the same time lately. These things happen. Gray hair is still hair, you know.

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--> Taq. Zapata, 11/17/2007

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Shhh! Keep Your Voices Down! Children are Sleeping!

You know the drill by now, no? You send us your thoughts on San Francisco taquerias. We then excise all your bilious vitriol about how we're a bunch of half-wits with dead taste buds. Then we reprint them.

Thoughts on San Francisco taquerias and bilious vitriol about how we're a bunch of half-wits with dead taste buds? Please send here!:

(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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"You are right about The Little Chihuahua! Amazing burrito, and I was also blown away by their salsas. They even have this one salsa that kind of tastes like barbecue sauce, which sounds like a really bad idea in a taqueria, but my chips kept coming back to it. Thanks again for the heads-up."

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"The burritos at La Corneta Taq. in the Mission aren't so bad. I'll agree that they aren't quite on par with those at their Glen Park shop, but beginning a review with, 'Well, that sure sucked a whole bunch' is a little harsh."
Not if the 5.42-mustache burrito actually sucked a whole bunch. -Ed.

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"I would rather eat a Taco Bell chalupa than a Chipotle burrito."

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Congratulations, Cate and Aaron. May the worm be with you.

Now for this month's hidden bonus track.

The Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly,, and The Great Mustache logo are brought to you by The Exploding Head Trick Publishing Co.

Yours, in delicious horchata,