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Palma Mexicatessen, La MissionOMR: 7.78
2884 24th St.
cross street: Florida
ph. 415/647-1500
Map Visits: 5
Along this stretch of 24th St., where you can’t swing a toy dog without hitting a burrito shop, a taqueria needs something to set itself apart. La Palma has gone the extra mile by fashioning a small market around the controlled chaos of its L-shaped food counter — brilliant move. And why not indulge in a dessert plantain? Credit cards accepted. Masa in bulk, horchata concentrate (!), and bottled beer available. Take-out only. Closed evenings.

Will My Health Be Violated?

12/13/11Super al Pastor$6.697.67 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); size (9); beans (9); sauciness (9)
Shrug: meat (7); rice (7); vegetables (7); tortilla (6); spiciness (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: cheese (4)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This self-possessed slab may have had an intangible style all its own, but that doesn’t mean it was a great lunch. Sized to bloat and hot and heavy from the top down, its centerpiece was a set of mightily sauced pork accompanied by the odd pineapple chunk. While the tropical fruit certainly added a new slant to our usual burrito-eating regimen, it was the meat that sort of puzzled our panel: thoroughly flavorful sauce over, under, and around thoroughly flavor-deficient pork. La Palma had the burrito basics covered like a blanket — tens alike for temperature and burstage abatement — and we happily noted how the refried beans permeated most every bite in a wonderfully pasty sort of way. Still, between the super-sticky tortilla, inglorious ingredient mix (segregated guac, etc.; a bit too much rice), and scattered, barely melted micro-grates of cheese, this was a burrito simply after our stomach, not our heart.

09/13/08Super Chile Colorado Beef$5.958.00 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); temperature (10); rice (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); beans (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: spiciness (7); vegetables (6)
Clang: cheese (3)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Setting our panel’s taste buds awash in a meaty sea of warm reds and rich browns, this fairly sized burrito rose above non-starting cheese and a shorthanded set of vegetables to nab an eight-mustache rating at the bell. La Palma’s extraordinary red sauce put the “rad” in chile colorado and improved the fortunes of everything with which it came into contact, particularly the excellent Spanish rice and hunky plops of tender, stewed beef strewn about the slab; terrific refried beans played their role admirably as well. We could have done with some avocado slices, but we made do with scattered pods of diced onion and cilantro, as well as one or two small tomato chunks. We overlooked the couple of (very minor) rice dumps and felt pretty alright about awarding a nine-mustache burstage abatement rating, and the same can be said for the embarrassing cheese score, boo. Spice danced the uptempo tunes with burliness, but never got too close during the slow songs. Then we went shopping!

04/29/06Super Carnitas$5.657.17 Mustaches
Anyone familiar with the whims of our judges panel knows how ornery this group gets at even the thought of a lettuce-wracked cold bite. So imagine all the baffled consternation at the burrito banquet’s head table when a fleet of chilled, shredded leaves revealed themselves early and often at La Palma. There was no mention of lettuce on the burrito menu, no sight of it on the production line, and certainly no expectation (on our part) of its appearance between the tortilla folds somewhere this down-home. Sadly, the trail of unwarm bites it left in its wake only underscored our lettuce-in-slab aversion; this burrito’s long winter never really let up, and in a foiled zeppelin this plus-sized, it made for a bit of a slog. Unmelted cheese also remained a foe throughout. Given the overall rating, however, our lunch obviously wasn’t a total loss: sauciness came through tasty and persistent, while La Palma’s spice maintained a constant presence it couldn’t muster on our visit five months prior. The orange rice / refried beans foundation was solid enough, while the nicely charred, borderline-crunchy carnitas stayed true to La Palma’s otherwise traditional ethos. Tomato chunks and diced onion in the pico de gallo? Fine, sure. But all that lettuce? Unforgivable, in our book.
11/10/05Super Pollo$5.658.08 Mustaches
There’s no doubt that, had La Palma’s production staff fulfilled our demand for a “real spicy” burrito, this would have been one of the highest-rated foodpieces of the year. Little matter, as everything else here was so on point (save this mega-long slab’s slender dimensions), it almost seemed unreal. Chunks of chicken waded through a wonderfully tomato/pepper-strewn salsa roja, its terrific flavor and the meat’s shred-friendly demeanor setting a delicious blimp-wide tone. Melted jack hued itself into every single bite, while the solid mix ensured minimal ingredient clumping. Orange (can’t call it brown with a straight face) rice and, in particular, the exceptional refried pintos deserved Oscar nominations for their supporting roles. Temperature issues were kept infinitely at bay – an important development, considering every La Palma burrito is a burrito eaten elsewhere. And we quite appreciated all the heavy tomato deployment. Shame about the lack of fire on hand, though. That display of habañeros they keep adjacent to their kitchen is apparently just for show.
11/28/03Super Carne Asada$4.957.50 Mustaches
We ordered the super carne asada and watched them immediately heave an entire slim-cut flank onto the grill. We got real excited. Then while we were eating the burrito, we repeatedly landed five bites' worth of steak in a single bite. Someone get these people a knife sharpener, on the double. La Palma’s large-grained rice ruled, as did the heads-up mix and terrific sauciness, and the whole thing boasted the kind of spice you’re bound to still feel several hours later. But nothing else stood out, except for the fact that nothing else stood out.