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Buen Sabor, Taq. El MissionOMR: 7.75
699 Valencia
cross street: 18th St.
ph. 415/552-8816
Map Visits: 5
This veteran slabeteria lets us down more often than not, but that’s not to say it hasn’t remained popular with Mission punters down the ages. Find a seat at one of the two window counters and enjoy your foiled food as you ponder all the beards on bikes racing up and down Valencia. Breakfast available; bottled beer, too. Credit cards accepted, although you'll pay 50 extra cents for the privilege.

Will My Health Be Violated?

07/17/11Special Carnitas$5.807.25 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); beans (8); cheese (8)
Shrug: size (7); tortilla (7); rice (7); sauciness (7); meat (6); vegetables (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: spiciness (4)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

With zero outstanding ingredients on hand — although even the most critical burritoeater couldn’t have found fault with this narrow scud’s temperature and burstage abatement talents — El Buen Sabor’s latest effort was destined from the get-go to land squarely in our soggy meadow of mediocrity. Spiciness remained laughably tame all the time, and the iffy guac and middling intangibility got (and kept) us down throughout. The inglorious ingredient mix, which sprung forth too much rice while rendering the otherwise quite good refried beans moot until the burrito’s latter third, was equaled in its six-mustache-ness by the soft and mushy carnitas...and that’s sure not how carnitas is supposed to be. Further rice complaint: It was overcooked! Come on! Although to be fair, it was at least nice and moist. Melted cheese remained a highly respected contributor all slab long, but it takes a hell of a lot more than that to get our panel’s attention at this point.

03/06/10Breakfast (Chorizo)$7.258.75 Mustaches
Swish: vegetables (10); cheese (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); ingredient mix (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); tortilla (8); eggs (8); beans (8)
Shrug: meat (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

No other burrito-eating panel in town enjoys a nice comeback story like ours does. So imagine our glee when this egg-laden slab’s cavalcade of nine-mustache element ratings sent Taq. Good Flavor’s long run of misflavor packing. Not only was it a veritable veggie bonanza — avocado! jalapeńo! fresh pico de gallo! — but between the capable egg/chorizo collaboration and all the melted Jack cheese, this was pretty much a complaint-free meal. Wonderfully gloopy refried beans took advantage of the absence of rice to play an early leading role, while the overall ingredient mix and proportionality had hell-yeah written all over it. Temperature and construction were crucially on-the-money — if they weren’t, surely we wouldn’t be threatening to bestow Comeback Taqueria of the Year honors on the place. Spiciness remained nicely burly top to bottom, and if intangibility wasn’t up to Everest-like altitudes, it was at least around Shasta. Hoorays aplenty.

05/16/07Special Pollo Asado$5.756.92 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (9); size (8); tortilla (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: meat (7); beans (7); vegetables (7); spiciness (7); ingredient mix (6); temperature (6)
Clang: rice (5); cheese (4)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

This lengthy, foiled torpedo’s finest moments came courtesy of its meat-and-refried-bean bites. Elsewhere, glory was conspicuously absent, and we’ll point the finger of blame straight at that creepy flavor-removal machine in the back corner of El Buen Sabor’s kitchen. The last time we had Spanish rice this bland...well, come to think of it, we’ve rarely had Spanish rice this bland. A lack of flavorful punch was, sadly, a recurring theme here, as the nicely grilled chicken could have used some additional seasoning. Bigger gripes centered around all the unmelted grates of jack cheese, the suspiciously creamy “guacamole,” and because we get a kick out of harping on the obvious, all that damned rice. The rice also hogged way too much space within the politely grilled tortilla, resulting in a compromised ingredient mix that could have been worse, were it not for some smartly distributed vegetables. A perfect burstage abatement rating was averted late, due to an unattractive guaca-cream bleed that forced us to reach for an extra napkin or two, and hey look, a duck!

06/26/05Special al Pastor$4.756.00 Mustaches
We steered clear of El Buen Sabor’s super burrito – an uncharacteristic move, but what was the point since it included our two main ingredient no-nos (sour cream and lettuce)? So wasn’t it a smashing bit of irony that the slab we did receive in our basket was fouled by a number of cold – not unhot, not warm, cold - bites. The jalapeño tasted as if it had been on ice, and the strictly half-and-half ingredient mix only made us dread biting into the chilly side of this slab that much more. By this point, you’ve probably deduced the ghastly state of this burrito’s cheese situation...but if you need a hint, think lamely unmelted and take it from there. The overly diced, marinated pork remained faceless from top to bottom. Spice ebbed and flowed, while the somewhat thin guac and other vegetables were acceptably good, considering the flurry of tragedies elsewhere inside the unflashy, steamed tortilla. All that, and the thing was stubby. Holy smokes. If this is El Buen Sabor’s idea of special, their regular burrito must be a real treat.
03/30/03Super Carne Asada$4.758.00 Mustaches
Sole nitpicks were an overabundance of red rice and a few drippy drabs at the hind end. Solid eating in every respect otherwise. Eight mustaches of good taste.