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Estrellas, Las Hayes ValleyOMR: 7.42
330 Gough
cross street: Hayes/Fell
ph. 415/552-1312
Map Visits: 4
Perhaps things are looking up for Hayes Valley’s quality burrito-starved populace? Our 2009 visit pointed Las Estrellas’ mustachioed fortunes in the right direction, although as ever, anyone with an aversion to KOIT-spewed ‘80s pop hits will be particularly miserable in this room — “Jessie’s Girl,” “Gloria,” “Borderline,” “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” get the picture. Wine and bottled beer available. Cash only.

Will My Health Be Violated?

06/23/09Super Shredded Chicken$6.257.42 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); sauciness (9); rice (8); beans (8); cheese (8); ingredient mix (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: size (7); meat (7); vegetables (7); tortilla (6)
Clang: spiciness (1)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

OK, we admit it. We’d been averting our eyes from this place ever since our train wreck of a visit way back in 2005. But our long-delayed return ended in surprise respectability — and had our burrito been properly equipped with the spice we crave, it likely would have nudged itself into eight-mustache territory. A little on the stubby side, but certainly burly and girthy enough, this shockingly tasty slab delivered several positive points, from its subtly effective Jack cheese accents and smartly assembled ingredient mix to its infallible construction. The ingredient mix’s finest achievement was the way it worked the refried beans into the greater picture, although we had to knock a couple mustaches off the temperature rating for the occasional chilly moments brought on by the too-cool-for-school pico de gallo. And did Mister Slabmaker Fella really need to steam the hell out of the far-too-sticky tortilla like that? As for the chicken, it was tender and beautifully sauce-slathered, if otherwise sort of flavor-deficient. Spice was, of course, a complete and sorry rumor. Still, whenever a taqueria pulls itself out of the gutter, salutes are in order.

10/17/05Super BBQ Chicken$5.755.58 Mustaches
Nowhere on Las Estrellas’ overhead menu is there any mention of sour cream as a default ingredient in their burritos. So imagine our shock upon discovering that our foiled lunch had been needlessly slandered by curdled, pale dairy wiz - dirty pool of the highest order. But let’s pretend for a moment they hadn’t taken such a ghastly liberty, and instead played by the rules: this was still a god-awful burrito. The stickily steamed tortilla reminded us of pork buns we’ve known in Chinatown over the years, while random shards of unmelted grated jack cheese cropped up every now and again. Shifts in internal temperature jarred us further, and a disappointing dearth of vegetables brought down the hammer of doom that much more forcefully. Add to that an ingredient mix dogged by fears of integration, as well as some equally complicit chicken, and what we were left with was a near-total travesty. Perhaps it’s more efficient to note what didn’t suck here – we awarded eight mustaches for this burrito’s (refried) beans and burstage abatement. But when it’s clear that everything inside the tortilla has been fatally splattered amidst a creamy hue, it’s pretty much all over.
12/12/03Super Carne Asada$6.256.00 Mustaches
Massive. Perfectly constructed, with tasty Spanish rice. And that’s where the happy times ended, as acres of unmelted cheese, gristly (at times) steak, and fully absent spice brought on the first round of boos. Most catastrophically, a big-ass leaf of lettuce did a cannonball right into the burrito’s mid-section. That’s just plain tacky.
01/28/03Super Carne Asada$6.257.50 Mustaches
All we remember about this one is that we’d planned to eat on-site, but with Wham!’s "Careless Whisper" dangerously careening around the room, a take-out order was hastily arranged.