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Tortilla, La CastroOMR: 6.42
495 Castro
cross street: 18th St.
ph. 415/861-3990
Map Visits: 4
Herbivores will enjoy this colorful, airy taqueria’s plethora of vegetarian options, and — well, will you look at that, there’s even a steamed broccoli burrito up on the menu. Beware of all-‘80s / all-the-time pop hits (Human League, Bangles, J. Geils Band) bleating from the sound system. It's also worth noting that the front façade is brighter than the brightening bright of brightness. Breakfast available. Bottled beer also available. Credit cards accepted. Open real late Thursday-Saturday.

Will My Health Be Violated?

02/01/10Super Roasted Pork$7.756.42 Mustaches
Swish: beans (8); temperature (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: size (7); tortilla (7); rice (7); sauciness (7); meat (6); spiciness (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: vegetables (5); cheese (1)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

This short and lightweight burrito had its ticket on the express train to shrugsville all squared away before we realized it contained that most elusive of ingredients, InvisiCheese™. (It also contained sour cream — usually a major no-no for our panel — although La Tortilla did a good enough job with it.) The woefully ingrown tortilla was worth noting, but not as much as the fact that cilantro was the highest-profile plant product on hand. Elsewhere, the roasted pork wasn’t terrible by any means, but it was inarguably short on flavor and mushier than Titanic, two factors that rarely work in any meat’s favor. But we liked the refried beans enough...about as much as "Jessie's Girl."

04/26/07Super Chile Relleno$6.207.09 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); rice (8); cheese (8); ingredient mix (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: beans (7); spiciness (7); tortilla (6); vegetables (6)
Clang: sauciness (5); burstage abatement (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Friendliness at the taqueria certainly counts for something...just not on our ruthless 10-Mustache Scale™. Sadly, all the warm smiles behind La Tortilla’s counter couldn’t save the Castro St. burrito shop’s latest bowling ball-sized slab from bouncing in and out (and back into) our critical gutter. Ginormous dimensions aside, this was a troubled meal, from the loose and floppy wrap to the significant drips/drabs (final tally: seven napkins used) that systemically sieved the steamed tortilla. The chile relleno was fine enough, but we were crestfallen to find shredded lettuce inside, particularly given our standard request against the stuff’s inclusion. Our judges panel reaction: “Boo.” Jack cheese was nicely melted and permeated many bites, while the Spanish rice and refried beans each behaved well. Burrito-wide temperatures were, respectably, neither scalding nor cool, as a sort of San Diego-like temperateness took over early on. The smart ingredient mix and credible spicing, however, failed to negate the ugly, sloppy mess this burrito’s melodrama turned into throughout its closing act.

06/14/05Super Spicy Chicken$6.207.42 Mustaches
Serviceable cylindri-food for those who enjoy a good burrito slurp every now and again. We went with the spicy chicken, fully expecting the false advertising to kick in early and often. Surprisingly, La Tortilla wielded a heavy spice hammer on this evening, although some unfortunate, juicy drippage accompanied all the peppery bludgeoning from the chicken’s otherwise fine sauce. The amount and variety of vegetables within were underwhelming (guacamole? anywhere? Bueller?), and it certainly could have withstood some additional length and girth, along with a fuller, tighter wrap. They were crafty enough to plant what looked like plenty of cheese upon the tortilla prior to the flour sheath’s steamer intro, but the cheese’s impact turned out to be disappointingly minimal. The tasty chicken covered somewhat for this slab’s aforementioned paucity of veggies, but the bottom line was that nothing here came off as extraordinary. At least the smiley counter help cushioned the soft blow of La Tortilla’s mere adequacy.
04/18/03Super Carne Asada$5.757.00 Mustaches
The cheese-slathered tortilla may have hit the steamer before any other ingredients jumped in the burrito pool, but it was no protection against our having to eventually hold the thing like a hot dog – near-horizontally with two hands – in an effort to prevent a catastrophic collapse. We should have indicated a foil wrap; they should have built a better burrito. Other than that, everything else about it was capable, if unspectacular.