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Cinco de Mayo Taq. PortolaOMR: 7.83
2426 San Bruno
cross street: Silliman/Silver
ph. 415/468-9272
Map Visits: 6
The Cinco de Mayo kitchen is full of smiley folks who often grill tortillas all to hell, so the place automatically starts out on the good foot. Add some top-shelf horchata and terrific décor in the form of religious icons, bikini babe-accented beer posters, and color maps of various Mexican states, and you’ve pretty much got a game-set-slab situation. Bottled beer available. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

02/14/11Super Carne Asada$7.058.00 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); meat (9); cheese (9); temperature (9); size (8); tortilla (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: rice (7); vegetables (7); ingredient mix (7); beans (6); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Sidestepping some seriously bland refried beans and persistent grease drips en route to a drink at our eight-mustache trough of highly valued endorsement, May 5 Taqueria persevered with marvelously flavorful carne asada and perfect spiciness to its credit. Indeed, the beef was right juicy and even rightier peppery in all the rightiest ways — the star element here, no doubt — while the super-gooey, all-melted cheese and smart slab-wide temperatures also made nine-mustache inroads. Spanish rice merely played a role, and no veggie ingredients particularly stood out, but the lightly grilled tortilla and chubby dimensions each hit our panel’s spot. Shame, though, about all the required slurping and napkin usage (one every other bite, roughly).

05/05/08Super Carnitas$6.457.50 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: rice (7); beans (7); sauciness (7); spiciness (7); temperature (7); cheese (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

A bit better than its middling rating indicates, this nicely sized slab featured a flood of fried pork flavor and much positive intangibility; unfortunately, it couldn’t sidestep all the six- and seven-mustache element ratings fairly lobbed its way by our panel, which ultimately derailed Cinco de Mayo’s steady ascent up the Burritoeater ladder – on May 5, even. The rustic carnitas certainly dominated at times, but we forgave its pressing greasiness on account of its terrific taste. Elsewhere, things didn’t fare quite as well: The tortilla was fine, but surprisingly chewy given its grilled origin, while the iffy ingredient mix exposed the sort of unhot areas within the burritos we’d have preferred to not have dealt with. Spice kept the mild pressure on throughout, but it never burst through to make a significant dent; same went for the segregated refried beans and Spanish rice. Sauciness took a minor hit, given the pork’s greasy moisture, but still performed adequately. Aside from the temperature shifts, we were most disappointed with the comic/tragic cheese performance – sometimes fully melted, other times not. Hopefully, this was an aberration on an otherwise highly respectable past ledger.

05/13/07Super Pollo Asado$6.258.25 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); rice (8); beans (8); vegetables (8); cheese (8)
Shrug: meat (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Check Cinco de Mayo’s mustache ratings through the years. The place started off on the right eight-mustache foot in 2003, and has stepped it up a notch each time through our critical mill. This latest foiled success story continued the Portola taqueria’s fundamental habit of crafting solid slabs that fundamentally grasp all the right fundamentals: generous sizing, an avoidance of full-blown temperature dips, crash-proof construction, and game-faced spiciness. The tortilla’s mild chewiness belied its grilled appearance, but it was still worth eight mustaches, as were the suave refried beans and Spanish rice. Isolated pockets of meat and pico de gallo prevented the ingredient mix from attaining equal glory, but we enjoyed how the jack cheese grates politely melted their way all around the slab’s interior. The chicken was well-grilled but lacked the big flavor hammer, and it spawned a surprising amount of grease. Still, this burrito displayed the kind of intangible knack we dig, and there’s a lot to be said for marginal, if consistent improvements to an already winning formula.

05/04/06Super Pollo Adovado$6.158.17 Mustaches
This strong effort from Cinco de Mayo on Cuatro de Mayo brought plenty of saucy credibility to our table. Relentless cuts of barbecued chicken, basted to the nines with a rich and delicious slather, won us over by slab’s end. The meat could have been less bunchy at times, and there was a fairly clear line of demarcation separating the enjoyable rice from the meat/veggie contingent (ingredient mix rating: six mustaches); still, everything boasted good taste, above all. We wouldn’t have scoffed at some additional length (have we ever?), and the beans seemed to settle a little too comfortably into their role as tortilla-hugging wallflowers at this burrito’s sock hop. Splotches of guacamole dotted the internal slabscape, and the respectable pico de gallo kept its name out of trouble. Melted jack cheese offered subtle enhancement here and there, and other than a stray sauce drip or two into the plastic red basket, construction proved infallible. Along with all the ten-mustache sauciness, we were similarly dazzled by the mega-grilled tortilla, and by the fact that the jalapeño slices acted in concert with the rest of the hot elements onboard, rather than as a cooling detraction. Spice was fearsome. Intangibility was on-point. Burrito was sharp. Action was go.
06/07/05Super al Pastor$5.608.08 Mustaches
We’ve learned by now that a segregated ingredient mix usually means curtains for any burrito with eight-mustache aspirations. Yet Cinco de Mayo shattered that truism on this trip with an armament of subdivided, but undeniably delicious ingredients that suggested that a non-unified burrito can still succeed, if only very rarely. A trio of perfect ratings (for all-hot temperature, melted cheese, and a downright mega-grilled tortilla) caught our attention immediately, and the plentiful barbecued/marinated pork maintained it raptly throughout. Spice crept up on us stealthily, and the age-old Spanish rice / refried beans cornerstone proved its continuous worth. Things certainly weren’t perfect here, as some greasy sauce overflow reared up halfway in, and it definitely could have used another inch or two of length. And where was the guacamole? But for a burrito that didn’t look like much, it wielded mighty force.
06/24/03Super Carne Asada$5.158.00 Mustaches
Mighty sauce and powerful flavor more than compensated for this burrito's imperfect ingredient mix, although it ended with a few bland bites. That’s pretty much it.