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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, March 2010back to archive

Bite. Chew. Mull. employs a zany nautical motif in its look back at an inglorious month of taqueria visits.

Then our mailbag first-responder fires back at readers' what-for in Dear Beano.

More fun vibes pile up in Obstinate Reader Commentary.

And by the time (epilogue) rolls around, fisticuffs are inevitable.

Kindly pull up a food.

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"Mega-diced chicken was nothing at all special, the tortilla was too damn chewy, and the whole pinto beans had blandness covered like a blanket."
--> Taco Stop, 8/29/2007

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Mutiny-minded mediocrity rushed the galley of our S.S. Slabber last month, and despite the eight-mustache chow at civic linchpins El Castillito and Taq. San Francisco, February 2010 won't go down as one of the more heroic months in our burrito shiplog. Ghastly, six-mustache outings by La Tortilla and El Super Burrito forced the boys in the engine room to fire up the emergency bilge pump, while the month also included capable, if dull port calls at El Beach Burrito, El Azteca, and Ocean Taq. And once La Alteña rudely punctured our panel's life raft with some truly remedial ingredient decisions, it was clearly time to put our personal floatation devices to designed use.

With advance apologies to any third-graders in the audience who are really great in the kitchen.

LA TORTILLA (Castro), 2/1/2010, Super Roasted Pork: 6.42 mustaches
The roasted pork wasn't terrible by any means, but it was inarguably short on flavor and mushier than Titanic.

TAQ. SAN FRANCISCO (Mission), 2/4/2010, Super al Pastor: 8.00 mustaches
This sleeper slab seemed to play far above the level of its unspectacular rating. Not bad for an off-night.

LA ALTEÑA (Mission/22nd St.) (Mission), 2/8/2010, Super Breakfast (Chorizo): 7.00 mustaches
It was like a third-grader made a sandwich and called it a burrito. Unless there's an adult in La Alteña's kitchen clueless enough to send out a burrito with a completely unmelted cheese slice lining the inner tortilla. Argh.

EL BEACH BURRITO (Outer Sunset), 2/12/2010, Special Chile Verde Pork: 7.67 mustaches
Wherein we field calls from Chris in the Inner Sunset, Maria in Divisadero Heights, Janie in the Mission, and Linda in Orinda about this expertly mixed, well vegetabled, and woefully de-spiced burrito.

TAQ. EL CASTILLITO (Castro), 2/15/2010, Super Pastor: 8.42 mustaches
For a taqueria known for its improv-style slabs, El Castillito's greatness on this day seemed sort of rehearsed. And yet: Slab of the Month, February 2010.

EL AZTECA TAQ. (Bayview), 2/19/2010, Especial Carne Asada y Nopales: 7.67 mustaches
Despite its smart ingredient mix, this brick-dense burrito suffered from poor proportionality. At least its basics (burstage abatement, temperature) hit the nine- and ten-mustache nails squarely.

EL SUPER BURRITO (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 2/22/2010, Super Chile Verde Pork: 6.42 mustaches
Significant gaffes included horribly floppy construction, enormous (and barely melted) clumps of cheese, and less-than-delicious salsa roja. This drippy drag of a meal also required hundreds of napkins.

OCEAN TAQ. (Western Addition), 2/28/2010, Super Carnitas: 7.75 mustaches
Facelessness often assumes many forms in this world, including foiled lunches on Divisadero.

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"This mammoth burrito's ingredients failed to cooperate with one another; instead they just decided to bump chests and generally act like macho mooks."
--> Taq. Zorro, 12/22/2003

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Well, let's see. This month, our veteran taqueria sage gets accused of listening to his lunch a little too closely. He's lambasted for giving one beleaguered burrito shop another shot at redemption. He's nailed to the wall for having an alleged beef with pork. He even takes the searing heat for our editorial board's long-held distinction of sidestepping tenets of more traditional food writing.

San Francisco burritos: It's a rough racket. Why not make it a little rougher on the old codger:

Dear Beano: Just read your recent L'avenida review, in which various burstage abatement elements apparently "say" things to one another. I've been expecting this for a couple years now -- you've eaten so many burritos, you're starting to hear voices in them. Are these burritos really talking to you?
Dear Apocalypse reader: Please define "talking."

Dear Beano: I would like to know why you keep trying El Balazo. Didn't you learn your lesson the first ten times?
Dear Apocalypse reader: I'm afraid it's in the job description. I keep trying La Taqueria, too, but its burritos are just as much of an overblown dripfest as they were ten years ago.

Dear Beano: What do you have against pork? There's not one carnitas, chile verde, or pastor burrito in your 2009 top ten. A chorizo breakfast burrito (watered down with chicken eggs) from El Burrito Express hardly mitigates this omission. What kind of craptastic year is it when a tofu burrito is better than every other porcine slab you eat? One must assume that your swinophobia is either caused by misinformation spread by the beef and poultry industrial complex -- eating pork does not give you swine flu; making out with pigs gives you swine flu -- or a overly defensive jingoistic response to the Stalinist pigs of Animal Farm, designed as a cover for your own latent communist tendencies. Either way, comrade, figure out what causes this undisclosed bias and remedy the situation immediately.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Ease back down, Porky McCarthy. Put down the conspiracy-theory leaflet they handed you on the way out of that last Oinkers Anonymous get-together, and consider the possibility that perhaps San Francisco's finest pork burrito purveyors just had an off-year on the plate last season. Beef went through a similar slump in '08, only to rebound strongly in '09. These things happen. Ask anyone -- I'm a pastor man. Now quit looking at my marinated tofu like that.

Dear Beano: How come I rarely get a sense of how these burritos taste from your reviews? It would be helpful if you discussed specific flavors and aromas.
Dear Apocalypse reader: What do I look like? A "food writer"? The name's Iglesias, friendo. I'm an entertainer.

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"Adequate brown rice paired with some positively dodgy refried beans for a burrito foundation that had us fumbling for comparisons to coastal homes built on stilts upon sand."
--> Taylor's Taq. (since closed), 11/6/2005

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Your Fist, Our Face

Consolidate your angst and anguish* today! The milquetoast punching bags on Burritoeater's Community team are standing by!

Send your pointed commentary in a tightly constructed e-mail to Who knows, your words could someday appear on the Internet.

*Angst and anguish must be applicable to San Francisco's taqueria scene. This isn't therapy here, people. We're not therapists.

(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 find Taq. Can-cún's carne asada super burrito to be eight-plus mustaches. Go to the location on Mission and 19th St. Sit at the back. Examine the divot in the chopping table."
Examine the divot in the chopping table at Can-cún? Are you trying to get us killed? -Ed.

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"Does Cilantro offer the smallest $8 'super' burrito in San Francisco? I think so. Though the woman behind the counter was needlessly kind for 2:00 A.M., the gentleman cooking behind the ones-and-twos did me a tiny piece of mischief full of non-flavor. It was supposed to be al pastor, but the meat was flavorless. Sadness filtered through my features; I was let down, then compelled to write."

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"Shame on you for recently 're-naming' El Super Burrito, 'El Super (Lousy) Burrito.' Those nice people have been running that business for years. Surely they don't need some dot-com wiseguys taking potshots at their livelihood."
Mother Teresa could be manning the grill there, and we'd still call their 6.50-mustache burritos on the carpet. -Ed.

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Yours, in delicious horchata,