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Gran Taco Loco, Taq. El MissionOMR: 8.06
3306 Mission
cross street: 29th St.
ph. 415/695-0621
Map Visits: 6
On your next visit to the Great Crazy Taco, take a good look at the whimsical mural on your left as you enter. It features a mustachioed, hat-clad bandit-jalapeńo chasing a bespectacled, grimacing crispy taco; the renegade vegetable boasts a remarkably prominent stem and brandishes a firearm. If there’s a more entertaining piece of folk art in San Francisco, we’ve yet to discover it. Breakfast and beer available; also, fresh coconuts! Credit cards accepted. Killer horchata, cruddy chips. Open real late — 18-hour days on weeknights, 19-hour days on weekends.

Will My Health Be Violated?

03/29/12Super Carnitas$6.408.08 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); size (9); rice (9); temperature (9); meat (8); beans (8); cheese (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); ingredient mix (7); sauciness (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Our choice of a chipotle tortilla at this longtime lower Mission slabshack was predictably unnewsworthy -- as usual with infused tortillas, its all-too-subtle flavor was lost amid everything else occurring within this lengthy, solidly performing burrito. As for El Gran Taco Loco's carnitas, it boasted a shred-friendly (if overly soft) texture, while our panel, in its infinite supertaster-wielding wisdom, also concluded that it tasted "pretty good." Mostly melted cheese lined several areas of the inner tortilla, and both the rice and refried beans were on-point throughout. Although a few spicy moments reared up here and there, they were inconsistently placed and dragged the ingredient mix's rating down into the land of shrug. Intangibility? Stellar. Pico de gallo and guacamole? Fine enough. Onions? Onions!

01/24/11Super Carne Asada$6.278.17 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: beans (7); cheese (7); ingredient mix (7); rice (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Our judges panel didn’t see fit to dole out any perfect ratings to this rightly sized slab, but neither did the group of legendary grumblers saddle it with any clang-level slags. The dodgiest moments came from the miniscule-grained rice, which the mix sequestered from its ingredient brethren in frustrating fashion; to its credit, though, the mix did improve in the burrito’s lower half. Other quiet misgivings were attributable to a few pockets of half-melted cheese and the refried beans’ odd taste at times. We found no major fault, however, with the other elements on hand, including the luminously grilled tortilla, brazen spiciness, and solidly tasty beef. Sure, you could do better; you could also do a hell of a lot worse.

02/23/08Super Pollo Asado$6.607.92 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); meat (9); size (8); rice (8); beans (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: cheese (7); vegetables (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: spiciness (3)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

An irrefutably, intangibly delicious burrito undercut by spice flatter than Nebraska. Its construction was so tightly wound, nothing dripped nor spilled when we recklessly dangled the slab upside down halfway through. Thickly pasty refried beans and a heaping helping of 30-weight guacamole made for some of the glurgiest in-burrito conditions we’ve seen in ages, and we didn’t mind this an ounce. Robust cuts of the Big Crazy Taco’s grilled, sauce-accompanied chicken made for some steamrollin’ flavor, and the sauce itself came from a land where nothing ghastly-tasting is ever allowed – good grief, it was amazing. Other elements deserving of a few kind words: the fine rice, the grilled tortilla, and the generous length of the whole piece. However, some unsettling moments forced the OMR to dip under our eight-mustache Mendoza Line, and for this, fingers of blame shall be extended toward the somewhat divisive ingredient mix (which caused top-end temperature issues that eventually worked themselves out) and, most of all, the barely-there spice. Nevertheless, one of the best sub-eight-mustache burritos we’ve known.

08/09/06Super al Pastor$6.608.17 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (10); cheese (10); vegetables (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: spiciness (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: beans (4)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

So many excellent elements buoyed this slab’s fortunes, we can’t help but moderately forgive its shortcomings (semi-integrated ingredient mix, scattered pockets of hard-charging spice), as well as its singular failure (anemic deployment of refried beans). The madly grilled tortilla cradled this burrito’s dark-hued centerpiece - a gang of strongly sauced pork that, while not outstanding, certainly held our attention raptly throughout. There was much jack cheese, completely melted, and it was all really quite rad. Some fine pico de gallo anchored the veggie lineup, along with tasty guacamole and an ideal amount of cilantro. More than anything, though, this burrito trafficked in intangible gold – that certain, can’t-put-a-point-on-it something our judges panel pines for every time they climb through a taqueria’s front window and order. With the right amount of beans, this would have been the Crazy Taco’s second consecutive 8.50-mustache effort.

06/01/06Super Carnitas$6.608.50 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); size (9); tortilla (9); vegetables (9); meat (8); rice (8); cheese (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: ingredient mix (6)
Clang: beans (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

In light of this strong showing, we’ll be sure our next on-the-record visit to this Lower Mission staple comes a lot sooner than another 18 months down the line. With extraordinary sauciness and a wondrous succession of hot bites, this generously lengthy food-scud scuffled its way to the storied level of our 10-Mustache Scale. It’s true that we found much at fault with the refried beans – they certainly could have used a refresh by the time of our evening visit, and it sure didn’t get a boost from a slightly troublesome ingredient mix that crammed all the over-the-hill slop down into the southwest corner of the tortilla. But plenty of melted jack was a silent assassin, and the Crazy Taco’s vaunted carnitas – externally charred, internally moist and salt-touched – provided plenty of affordable entertainment for our panel’s taste buds. And the nicely grilled tortilla, cilantro-slapped veggie ensemble, and ubiquitous flecks of red pepper were all similarly sharp additions. All told, the hoorays here greatly outweighed the downturned thumbs.

12/21/04Super Breakfast (Ham)$7.007.38 Mustaches
This fine piece of work had its legs taken out by phantom spice, a merely utilitarian tortilla, and an almost total absence of both sauciness and spice. Still, it was hot throughout, perfectly built, in love with its own cheesiness, and its eggs were downright respectable, albeit a bit on the dry side. Some mighty flavorful ham stood up to be counted, as did a big avocado slice. And that wall mural loomed menacingly all the while. That must be one crazy taco for that jalapeño to go after him like that.