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Jalapeño, Taq. El InglesideOMR: 7.08
1338 Ocean
cross street: Granada/Plymouth
ph. 415/584-8600
Map Visits: 5
This Ocean Ave. burrito shop caters to Ingleside locals, CCSF students, and anyone else who can’t bear another visit to Beep’s Burgers up the street. Known as Taq. La Fortuna in a previous life, the summer 2005 debut of the El Jalapeño brand saw the arrival of several mustachioed, maracas-wielding peppers painted on the west wall, and there’s nothing wrong with that, we reckon. For a place rumored to specialize in hand-made tamales, burrito quality here has been admirably strong at times, although our most recent visit sure was the pits. Breakfast and bottled beer available. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

11/08/10Super Breakfast (Chorizo)$6.506.54 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); size (8); beans (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: meat (7); eggs (6); rice (6); temperature (6)
Clang: vegetables (5); sauciness (5); ingredient mix (4); cheese (2)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Cheers! Jeers! Which will prevail?

Cheers: Grilled, nicely flaky tortilla. Jeers: No veggie input aside from the sub-mediocre guacamole and fine-enough pico de gallo. Cheers: Airtight construction. Jeers: Pods of unmelted cheese that did much to ruin this burrito’s show. Cheers: Solidly flavorful refried beans. Jeers: Serious sauce deficiencies. Cheers: A near-fully developed spiciness plan, uniquely attributable to the chorizo rather than salsa (of which there was little). Jeers: A poorly integrated ingredient mix that rendered way too many McDLT-like bites; indeed, no bite was completely cool...but few were completely hot. Cheers: Respectable bulk. Jeers: Scattered tough rice grains. Cheers: Looks like we’re out of cheers. Jeers: Low-profile egg action that paired with the chorizo to create a lumpy, impenetrable foodmass. More jeers: Laggard intangibility. Jeers win big.

06/27/09Super Carnitas$6.508.17 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); tortilla (9); vegetables (9); burstage abatement (9); meat (8); beans (8); sauciness (8); spiciness (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: rice (7); cheese (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Buxom and stubby, this widemouth superslab from Ingleside’s down-homiest Mexican eatery ticked off plenty of swish-level boxes on our scoresheet’s list of primary burrito elements. Our only real issue here was with the ingredient mix, which took the unspectacular (but effective) brown rice and better-than-the-rice refried beans and stuck them over there on that side of the nicely grilled tortilla; everything else, from the charmingly rustic carnitas to the thick-ass guac, landed on this side of the wrap’s interior. And the carnitas wasn’t just rustic — freshly grilled, it was delicious and gently shredded in all the right ways. What else did we enjoy here? The vegetable additives sure tasted spot-on, especially the glurgtacular guacamole and tomato-dominated pico de gallo. That same veggie ensemble caused a couple unwelcome pockets of cool, and one particular bite about two-thirds into this monster slab sent grease spewing due south. The cheese also had isolated moments of unmeltedness, but they were so isolated they barely bear mention. In other news, Mexican wrestling was on the television as we contentedly dined.

03/30/07Super Grilled Chicken$5.757.83 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); meat (8); beans (8); cheese (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: size (7); rice (6); sauciness (6)
Clang: ingredient mix (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Had this Ingleslab’s sadly rice-obsessed ingredient mix not had its way, we surely would have had ourselves a worthy eight-mustache burrito on/in our hands here. But, nooooooo. Halfway into the thing, virtually the only visible ingredient was the overscooped rice, its level of moisture clearly filed on the dry side of the ledger. Beyond that, hey, nice burrito: Terrific, grilled tortilla; gooey, melted jack cheese; a succession of hot bites; spice worth fearing. The grilled chicken performed impressively throughout, its subtle charring offset nicely by delicious juiciness. The whole thing was overly soft, it should have been lengthier, and the end-slab internal exposure was an unfortunate construction coda. Nevertheless, the rad guacamole was a real thrill, as were all the other clever veggie additives and, above all, maximum bonus intangibility.

03/06/06Super Carne Asada$5.257.58 Mustaches
Hopes were high on our return visit here in light of our near-knockout visit in August 2005, but the second time through El Jalapeño’s burrito mill wasn’t quite the moment of glory we anticipated. Comparatively wee sizing had a lot to do with it (a 13-bite slab is the long way to our panel’s hearts), but so did more than a few unmelted grates of jack cheese and a mix that wasn’t able to consistently offer a variety of ingredients from bite to bite. Early moments were overly veggie-laden and less than hot, but when the nicely charred steak entered the fray, it was a different story: the cheese was melted, there was no shortage of heat, and the birds outside even sang a bit more on-key. This burrito’s sauciness was a reliable point of enjoyment throughout, even if spice only danced on the fringes of the fire. Brown rice and refried beans were equally under-represented, though this was no surprise, given the short, unchubby dimensions of our dinner-in-foil. Minor grease issues claimed no real victims. And on the ninth bite: guacamole. Alrightythen.
08/14/05Super al Pastor$5.258.58 Mustaches
A super al pastor burrito at El Jalapeño seems to be the San Francisco taqueria equivalent of a plate of pork ribs down in Lubbock. Call it Mexican barbecue - El Jalapeño’s sauce-slathered, marinated pork boasts a rich, tangy taste all its own. A sky-high mustache rating here was inevitable, given this slab’s remarkable top-to-bottom consistency. A mess of eights and nines had their say, as did a pair of 10s (earned for perfect temperature and burstage abatement). Tiny shards of avocado, a steady ingredient mix, and some positively lethal spice also provided some fireworks on this foggy Ingleside evening. Really, complaints here were nit-picky at most – another inch of length wouldn’t have hurt the cause, the Spanish rice could have been a shade softer, and how about 100% melted cheese instead of 90%? Still, El Jalapeño employed the right amount of cilantro, and the refrieds were thick and rich. And while it’s probably not everyone’s jar of slop, we were way into that dark sauce that penetrated every corner of the burrito. Ironic that they didn’t toss in an jalapeño slice or two, but this one was spicy enough on its own.