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Castillo, Taq. (Mason) Civic Center / TenderloinOMR: 7.72
10 Mason
cross street: Turk
ph. 415/986-0426
Map Visits: 3
Before Taq. Castillo planted its flag at this unremarkable location, there was Taq. El Charro with its once-in-a-lifetime promotions (eg. "Buy One Super Burrito and the Agua Is Free"). We miss those days, and you should, too, for it’s unlikely that Castillo’s burritowork will ever be lumped in among the San Francisco taqueria elite. Breakfast and beer available. Cash only. Closed Sundays.

Will My Health Be Violated?

02/10/11Super Pastor$6.437.50 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: meat (7); beans (7); vegetables (7); sauciness (7); rice (6); cheese (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Shrugs ruled the day this time at Taq. Castillo, with nary a perfect ten-mustache rating nor a genuine clanger in the mix. Not that this sizable slab bored us to tears — the grilled onion-dominated roast pork, with an onion/meat ratio that had to approach 50/50, certainly saw to that. Our judges panel enjoys the onions as much as any burrito-eating judges panel in today’s world, but really, the Castillo kitchen kind of overdid it here. Generous avocado inclusion and some very serious spice-kick made everything a little more dramatic in all the right ways, but too many other elements were too blah — the faceless rice, the nowhere-near-entirely-melted cheese, the decidedly ungraceful ingredient mix — for this lackluster burrito to be taken seriously as a lunch for the ages.

03/31/08Super Carne Asada$6.438.17 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); vegetables (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); meat (8); beans (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: cheese (7); rice (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Despite the absence of any perfect element ratings, Taq. Castillo’s second go-around with our fussy judges panel fared a hell of a lot better than its first. Terrific overall taste and irrefutable intangibility helped drive this sizable slab safely into eight-mustache territory and beyond, and while the Castillo kitchen’s method of laying a minor heap of grated cheese upon the grilling tortilla didn’t work as well as either party hoped, we still appreciated both the effort and the melted (if clumpy) jack. The refried beans were pleasantly pasty and got the job done, even if the ingredient mix had some mighty incohesive moments, particularly in the burrito’s top region. Avocado slices reared up in the lattermost stages – it’s a shame they took that long to arrive – but a whole bunch of onions were on hand from the first bite to the last. Spice choogled more and more fiercely the further down we explored, and we were happy with the burrito’s strong final set of bites. Disappointing rice, sure, but hey: onions!!

01/05/06Super Pollo en Salsa Verde$5.856.83 Mustaches
Every now and again, we come across a burrito too buxom for its own good. Taq. Castillo’s überblimp on this afternoon was example 1A of a slab far too overstuffed to take seriously. Avocado slices and chicken chunks wedged themselves between the tortilla and foil like shards of misplaced ballast. Meanwhile, the tortilla itself was so packed it couldn’t possibly be shut, a construction gaffe that unbecomingly exposed an area code’s worth of ingredient-guts. Problems stemming from the acre-foot of overly thin salsa were exacerbated by an ingredient mix that de-emphasized rice integration and all the proper sauce absorption that usually ensues. (Perhaps a double-tortilla wrap would have helped?) The overall internal climate lacked consistent heat, while spice registered reasonably on our pepper-fied chart. The chicken fared alright, but it still came off somewhat dry - odd considering its saucy origins. Naturally, the unfortunate juicy drips came early, often, and late, while the mountain of used napkins was a downright embarrassment. Did we mention the all-soggy/all-the-time tortilla? If this burrito could exercise human judgment, you’d cringe while watching it shoehorn itself into an outfit two sizes too small. Earth to Taq. Castillo portion control. Come in Taq. Castillo portion control.