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Pancho's Laurel HeightsOMR: 8.16
3440 Geary
cross street: Jordan/Stanyan
ph. 415/387-TACO
Map Visits: 5
Decorated similarly to its sister location over on Polk, Pancho’s on Geary remains popular with USF students, BevMo retail staffers, and anyone else in the neighborhood looking for something a little more hearty than another scone from Peet’s on California. Along with its salsa selection and colorful chips, this shop’s phone number is undeniably among the finest in town. Outdoor dining available. Bottled beer also available. Open late on weekends. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

06/21/12Alambres$7.998.33 Mustaches
Swish: vegetables (10); spiciness (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); beans (8); cheese (8)
Shrug: rice (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7); tortilla (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Other than its sticky, steamed tortilla, this long 'n' kinda hefty slab excited our panel, even as it seared taste buds left and right with spice more furious than Satan stranded in Provo over a holiday weekend, pitchfork and all. Just seeing one of the most magical taqueria words — alambres — scrawled as a temporary addition to Pancho's burrito menu was a thrill in and of itself. This burrito possessed all the signature alambres trappings: bacon (which won big), carne asada (a lesser victor), red and green bell pepper (for that fajitafied touch we adore), and of course, onions (onions!). The quietly successful ingredient mix accentuated everything at one point or another, although we certainly could have done with less of Pancho's pale, just-there rice; the refried beans, however, were charmingly flavorful, if the slightest bit thin and runny. And the melted cheese probably would have rated higher if it hadn't been yellow cheddar, hrumph. Two-mustache intangibility OK! Real hot bites! Onions!

10/31/09Fajita Carnitas$7.707.83 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); vegetables (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); meat (8); cheese (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7); size (6); rice (6); beans (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Say this about this particular Pancho’s shop: Expect the expected. Expect an unspectacular tortilla, capably melted cheese, and potentially vicious spice from most any slab on the menu. And in any of Pancho’s fajita burritos, expect meat and vegetable domination, as well as a lack of density among all ingredients. We fought a small amount of saucy overspill on our way to immensely enjoying a strong veggie contingent led by long-chopped grilled onion, red and green bell pepper, and real thick guacamole. Pancho’s carnitas lacked that slightly rough exterior and pull-apart tenderness we always hope for, but it was still quite good overall. In tangibility, this burrito’s intangibility certainly did not mess about, and since that clever attempt at wordplay right there just fell completely flat, we reckon it’s time we called this review a day. Thank you, goodnight.

04/07/07Borracho Grilled Chicken$6.397.75 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9); temperature (9)
Shrug: size (7); meat (7); rice (7); beans (7); cheese (7); vegetables (7); tortilla (6); burstage abatement (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Designed lengthily but slenderly, and cradled within a chile tortilla that didn’t much impress our judges panel, Pancho’s Borracho slab still managed to ratchet up the maximum two-mustache intangibility bonus, even though it couldn’t clear our crucial eight-mustache high jump in the end. Infernal spiciness characterized our dinner from top to bottom, while the 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. Hot bites and an ingredient mix worth trumpeting also brought us joy, as well as nine-mustache ratings to this burrito’s scoresheet. Irritating burstage concerns in the early moments – thrust a finger at the less-than-airtight chile tortilla – caused some unnecessary angst, and we were disappointed that Pancho’s reputable guacamole didn’t cause a bigger stir. Refried beans (added on request, in lieu of pintos) contributed subtly, while the slightly al dente rice was, overall, inoffensive. Finally, the cubed chicken’s mere adequacy left us with nothing else to say about it - or this burrito, for that matter. Thank you, good night.

09/09/05Fajita (Grilled Chicken)$6.397.82 Mustaches
This burrito was so spiced up beyond belief, it set off fire alarms in Albuquerque – but we probably should have expected such infernality after spotting the “*HOT* *HOT*” note on our receipt. Not that we’re bellyaching, since Pancho’s delicious red chipotle sauce is worth the trip in and of itself. In other news, it’s true that we deviated from our usual super burrito-type fare here, but we’ve never been impressed by Pancho’s standard slabs over the years, so why not keep the lid on the bean vat for one evening and take another route? Naturally, their fajita burrito sidestepped beans, but that alone can’t excuse this miniature blimp’s sorry undersizing (particularly girth-wise) and sticky, pale, sickly looking tortilla. Our only other real point of contention centered on inconsistent temperatures, surely caused by the chilly guacamole wedged inside several of the tortilla’s onion-like folds. Other than that, Pancho’s surprised us with a heady mix of tastily marinated chicken (though not enough of it), peppers of many colors (red, green, orange), and sharp sauciness, while impenetrable construction and four-alarm spice ratcheted up their OMR significantly from our disappointment-rich 2003 visit.
08/10/03Grilled Steak$5.906.00 Mustaches
Everyone knows the steak at Pancho’s is off the hook. But what many fail to recognize is that most of the other ingredients found in a Pancho’s burrito remain resolutely on the hook. This small slab's modest sizing certainly didn’t help its cause, but the problems ran deeper than that – chief among them, the old one-bite’s-hot / the-next-bite’s-not routine. We totally hate that.