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Chavo's South of MarketOMR: 7.53
595 Bryant
cross street: 4th St.
ph. 415/495-5822
Map Visits: 7
Chavo's doesn't resemble a restaurant from the outside so much as it does a compound, and even this longtime South of Market taqueria's patio tables can't cushion the blow of its less than serene setting — unless you have a perverse thing for dining beside freeways and major thoroughfares. It's kicked down some fine burritowork for us over the years, albeit in the increasingly distant past. Do yourself a favor and ask for a foil wrap. Bottled beer available. Credit cards accepted. Call for hours...seems as if they're always changing.

Will My Health Be Violated?

09/08/11Super Ground Beef$6.257.58 Mustaches
Swish: meat (9); beans (9); spiciness (9); size (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: rice (7); vegetables (7); ingredient mix (7); burstage abatement (7); tortilla (6); cheese (6); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Some think ground beef only belongs in Taco Bell burritos; others maintain the opinion that it’s a perfectly acceptable centerpiece in a full-size Mission-style slab. Stick us in with the latter group of true believers. Chavo’s ground beef was furiously seasoned and punctuated with roasted tomatoes, and was far and away this burrito’s epicenter of flavor; hats off as well to the old taqueria’s wonderfully pasty refried beans and graceful, complementary spice. Unfortunately, construction shortcomings — ranging from soft floppiness to all-around seepage issues — dragged our delicious lunch down into the mid seven-mustache ghetto, while the innocently bystanding tortilla had no choice but to absorb all the wayward sauce-juice and try to hold things together as admirably as possible. Considering its foolproof intangibility, this burrito deserved better.

10/10/08Super Carne Asada$5.757.42 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); rice (9); temperature (9); tortilla (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: size (7); beans (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7); meat (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: cheese (4)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

That’s what happens when your burrito gets bogged down in the “shrug” region of a Burritoeater scoresheet – you’re left with a deservedly bogged-down rating. This respectably sized slab featured excellent Spanish rice and a nice enough veggie grouping, plus stooge-proof construction and a set of hot bites that withstood the autumn breezes afforded by our al fresco dining. But too many aspects of it came off uninspired, from the just-there salsa and sludge-happy refried beans to the steam-tabled carne asada that set a whole new standard for six-mustache dullness. Most egregiously, Invisicheese™ made a phantom “appearance”; really, where was the jack? As you'd imagine, intangibility couldn't help but suffer as a result of all this. All in all, it wasn’t a complete clunker on the level of Chavo’s January 2004 postseason disaster (see below), but it certainly compromised our confidence in this stalwart slabbery’s kitchen. Interstate 80’s western terminus deserves better!

10/12/07Super Pollo en Salsa Roja$5.508.50 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); beans (9); vegetables (9); ingredient mix (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); meat (8); rice (8); sauciness (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: cheese (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Chavo’s avoided both utter failure and unassailable perfection with this burrito’s seemingly endless string of eight- and nine-mustache element ratings. Our sole gripe was with the isolated pockets of unmelted cheese that reared up late; still, enough positive moments with jack had occurred earlier in the slab to warrant a mediocre (rather than embarrassing) score for cheese. Otherwise, our panel reported success story after success story: generously hefty dimensions, airtight construction (sullied only by a slight, burrito-wide oversoftness), credibly hot temperatures, tantalizingly delicious refried beans, plenty of tender and tasty (and heavily marinated) chicken, and a whole bunch of stone-cold rad guacamole that actually wasn’t stone-cold at all, but was pretty rad. Hats off as well to an ingredient mix that brought everything together seamlessly, without turning our lunch into a Mexican-American mish-mash’d take on KFC’s Famous Bowl. Spice played at a fierce level throughout, while the chicken’s thick, salsafied broth made for some wonderfully saucy eating. Finally, the tortilla was a bit on the chewy side for one that had been grilled, but still maintained eight-mustache quality throughout its lengthy stay on our plate.

05/24/06Super Carnitas$5.258.25 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); tortilla (9); beans (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); meat (8); rice (8); cheese (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: ingredient mix (6); sauciness (7); temperature (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Despite a somewhat inharmonious ingredient mix, this outsized food-blimp boasted a gorgeous and fragrant grilled tortilla, a towering inferno of spice, some rad refried pinto beans, and a hellacious battalion of vegetables. Plenty of salted-just-enough carnitas, landing gracefully between well-fried and charred on the meat textural scale, studded the internal slabscape, while beans this pasty and tasty really deserve a second shout-out. The suspect mix made for a few lukewarm bites, but as with the couple of minor tortilla cleaves that didn't lead to a burrito-wide collapse, low temperatures never turned into a major issue. The all-business guacamole, along with thick cuts of onion and all the usual cilantro/tomato suspects, anchored the winning veggie ensemble. Well, alright.

05/20/05Super Chile Verde Pork$4.958.33 Mustaches
Following its disastrous showing in the 2004 playoffs, this return to form was a fortunate development for occasional powerhouse Chavo’s. For the most part, this generously sized slab nailed it from start to finish, although its isolated rice pointed to some unsightly seams in the ingredient mix. Heavy guacamole implementation didn’t bum us out (not when it’s this tasty, no way), and the whole thing was nicely sauced – this was not a parched burrito. Plentiful jalapeño brought forth the lion’s share of this burrito’s spice-heat, while the chunky, green sauce-soaked pork maintained a subtle saltiness and worked well with its supporting cast inside the grilled tortilla. Cheese was so melted, it was barely visible to even the most trained eye, and the mildly floppy, yet bulletproof construction sealed the deal. The veil of embarrassment has been lifted.
01/29/04Super Carne Asada$4.956.54 Mustaches
The clangs came early, often, and late - truly an unremarkable showing. Sure, the steak was chunky and marinated...problem was, they forgot to turn on the Machine of Deliciousness when making it. No vegetables came to the rescue - in fact, a preponderance of lettuce brought the house down from every angle. Thin sauce, cool bites on the veggie side of the slab, more segregation than certain Louisiana parishes, and a full-scale avoidance of any and all spice wrote this burrito's playoff eulogy and sent it packing. Boo.
07/28/03Super Carne Asada$4.958.50 Mustaches
Sizable, with combustible spice, and the marinated-to-order steak is worth committing a felony for. Arguably the best burrito available adjacent to any I-80 offramp nationwide, but that’s a whole other investigation.