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Can-cún, Taq. South of MarketOMR: 7.92
1003 Market
cross street: 6th St.
ph. 415/864-6773
Map Visits: 5
This Can-cún shop has the misfortune of anchoring what’s easily one of San Francisco’s most grim blocks — vacant storefronts, creeps galore prowling the sidewalks, and a generally bleak and beaten-down vibe. The taqueria's also so narrow, you may end up rubbing elbows with Mister Dishwasher Fella making all that racket in the back corner. But sometimes the burritos are really good. Cash only. Breakfast available. Open late.

Will My Health Be Violated?

04/29/11Super Carne Asada$5.997.50 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (9); cheese (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); beans (8); vegetables (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: sauciness (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: spiciness (1)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Given the near-championship-caliber grilled tortilla, comfortably charred beef, and hefty (if stumpy) dimensions of our imminent lunch, we reckoned we were in for a barnburning beltbuster of a beltbusting barnburner here. Well, no. Because while hordes of eight- and nine-mustache element ratings littered our scoresheet, there were also the not-so-minor matters of an awkward ingredient mix and pretty much a complete absence of spiciness. The latter was a straightforward disaster — Which part of “extra spicy” don’t you understand, compadre? — while the former posed an even trickier puzzle in the way it mashed most of the avocado (and cilantro) down into the hind end. All the melted cheese made for some fun chewing moments, but while Can-cún’s pico de gallo was typically tangy, our panel of expert doofuses was a bit put off by the lukewarm bites here and there. The steady trickle of minor, but annoying drips didn’t help, and neither did that one guy out the door yelling "I'll mess your face up!!" to that other guy out the door.

07/09/08Vegetarian$4.998.36 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (10); vegetables (10); burstage abatement (10); beans (9); ingredient mix (9); rice (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: size (7); tortilla (7); sauciness (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Last time we sat down with San Francisco’s most celebrated meatless slab – see 01/05/2005 - our panel left the taqueria wondering what all the readers’ poll hoohaw was about. No such head-scratching this time. This slab may have lacked beltbusting girth and fearsome spice, and its tortilla sure appeared suspiciously steamed (though we failed to spot a Fresh-o-matic steamer behind the counter). And OK, it could have been hotter throughout. But everything else here lived up to the considerable hype – the ruthlessly melted jack cheese, the avocado-rich vegetable set, the stooge-proof construction, the on-point refrieds, the champ ingredient integration. All-star intangibility ensured even greater mustachioed success.

02/09/08Super Breakfast (Chorizo)$5.508.33 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); tortilla (9); vegetables (9); cheese (9); ingredient mix (9); meat (8); eggs (8); beans (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: size (7); burstage abatement (7); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This breakfast burrito had its lofty ambition somewhat undercut not only by construction concerns, but by the fact that some slurping was in order to keep things relatively neat. But an ingredient mix this all-in deserves a standing ovation from the whole damn town - all that stood between it and ten mustaches was the overindulgence of refried beans, likely due to our requested absence of rice (an unnecessary element in our breakfast burritos). Melted jack approached our panel from several angles, and this being Taq. Can-cún, there was plenty of sliced avocado inside our slab, and it was satisfactory and then some. Sizing at first appeared to be notably hefty, but deeper exploration within the hypergrilled tortilla revealed an occasionally loose wrap. Furthermore, that slurping we mentioned before combined with an overly affectionate union of burrito and foil at the hind end to necessitate a shrug-worthy burstage abatement score. Still, everything was all hot, all the time, while maximum intangibility was a foregone conclusion for all the overriding deliciousness. All this, and a terrific chorizo/egg scramble that anchored it all down. By far, this shop’s finest effort to date.

12/26/06Super Pollo Asada$4.996.58 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); tortilla (9); cheese (8)
Shrug: size (7); beans (7); spiciness (7); burstage abatement (7); rice (6); vegetables (6); sauciness (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: meat (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Far as we can tell, Can-cún always gets at least two crucial elements right: tortillas and avocado slices. But on this visit, even the spectacularly grilled tortilla let us down late, as the final pair of bites displayed a consistency more in line with a leather belt than a soft flour wrap. We were disappointed and completely baffled by the grilled chicken, which was not only diced to the point of miniscule irrelevance, but couldn’t come close to managing a lick of tasteworthiness as the world’s blandest army of meat staged a coup. Other gripes included a notable overabundance of refried beans, several moments of sauce-paucity, and a divisive ingredient mix that had “TV dinner tray” written all over it. Even Can-cún’s usually on-the-money vegetable squadron couldn’t drag itself out of the six-mustache ghetto - chopped onion dominated far too much, and certain cilantro stalks seemed a couple days past their prime. But instead of wallowing in this slab’s sub-mediocre mire, let’s wrap things up with two of our favorite words: hot bites. Hot bites, alright.

03/19/05Super al Pastor$4.997.25 Mustaches
It’s official in our book: If certain rearview mirror accounts of Can-cún’s prime are to be considered credible in the first place, then it’s unquestionable that the place is well beyond that “glorious” period in its history. This burrito stumbled early and often, hog-tied by its dry rice, overly tangy pork marinade, and a level of greasiness rivaling that of any given pomade factory. Some sort of bizarre ingredient-mixing stunt on the burrito assembly line bunched together all the pork and the cilantro, and we couldn’t offer more than six mustaches on the spiciness front without a hefty bribe that never presented itself anyway. Of course, Can-cún can always be counted on for delicious vegetable content – avocado slices and chopped onion led the way here – and to its credit, this burrito’s loads of melted cheese wanted nothing to do with all the greasy silliness. A much wiser choice at any Can-cún location is the alambres dish, guaranteed to steamhammer any enduring vestiges of burrito mediocrity.