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Guadalajara, Taq. ExcelsiorOMR: 7.83
4798 Mission
cross street: Onondaga
ph. 415/469-5480
Map Visits: 6
Is it Taq. Guadalajara’s three-dimensional murals — protruding porches and the like — that bring in brisk business from neighborhood families and anyone else in search of the real Excelsior deal? Or perhaps it’s the unbeatable roster of gumball machines and quarter-fed toy vendors, which over the years has included Disney Tattoos, Golden Bling!, Dentures by D’Wayne, Homies (Series #10), and a nameless machine that traffics exclusively in messianic stickers and decals? Whatever this corner taqueria's allure, it’s sure not the sadly mediocre chips. Credit cards accepted. Breakfast, fresh-squeezed juice, and bottled beer available. Open real late.

Will My Health Be Violated?

11/20/11Super Breakfast (Chorizo)$7.307.50 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); beans (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: vegetables (7); sauciness (7); spiciness (7); eggs (6); cheese (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Despite impervious construction and a whole lot of richly flavorful chorizo, our first on-record foray into Taq. Guadalajara’s AM burrito menu was less successful than anticipated. Why for? The biggest fingers of blame get pointed straight at the unmelted grates of Jack cheese — directly responsible for two cool bites! — a substandard ingredient mix that relied too much on the diced sausage, some inconclusive egg action that was overwhelmed by (again) the chorizo, and laggard intangibility. Not all the cheese was grossly unmelted, of course, although much of it turned out to be quite globby; at last we could count on Guadalajara’s refried beans to kick down eight-mustache credibility. Ultramega-heavy avocado involvement was the sole vegetabular action on hand, while the grilled tortilla displayed some surprisingly sticky qualities.

10/04/08Super Chile Verde (Pork)$6.507.75 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (9); ingredient mix (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); vegetables (8); sauciness (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: cheese (7); temperature (7); beans (6)
Clang: rice (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

It’s unusual when a burrito’s spiciness is the lead element on our scoresheet, but everyone knows by now that Taq. Guadalajara is no place for honkies and their white bread palates – here’s a kitchen unafraid to adorn its burritowork with the fieriest embellishment in town. So, yes, spicy burrito. Sadly, too many aspects of our foiled dinner underperformed, from the barely-there rice and outnumbered refried beans to slab-wide temperatures that were inexcusably lukewarm at times. Cheese was plentiful, but globby and not always fully melted; everything else about the glorious ingredient mix, however, was strictly on the money. The tasty pork took a big stew-bath in some thick ‘n’ rich chile verde, which spilled over the sides of the mildly grilled tortilla every chance it got. Through all these ups and downs, intangible credibility – a cornerstone at both Taq. Guadalajara shops these days - held forth resolutely. Possibly the most delicious 7.75-mustache slab on Burritoeater record to date.

02/13/08Super Carnitas$5.958.58 Mustaches
Swish: spiciness (10); burstage abatement (10); size (9); ingredient mix (9); tortilla (8); meat (8); rice (8); beans (8); cheese (8); vegetables (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: sauciness (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

What began as a slow burn of spice turned into a complete inferno by slab’s end. We not only survived -- we were into it. Too bad the burrito’s overall temperature couldn’t match its spice-fire. We were especially impressed with how Guadalajara’s rice worked its way all around the grilled tortilla’s interior, all without dominating in that irritating manner rice sometimes can. In other developments, the deep fried pork suffered slightly from softness and a slight grease factor, but these forgivable shortcomings were more than mitigated by the fact that the carnitas brought much deliciousness to the meat-cutting table. The refried beans and mostly melted jack cheese played along amiably, although had the cheese declumped a bit, we’d be looking at an even higher OMR. This foiled food was smartly constructed (ingrown tortilla forgiven), full of all the right veggie content, and like we said earlier, crushingly spicy. Lengthier than Gandhi, too. Real good times.

04/23/06Super Pollo Asado$4.907.67 Mustaches
It’s always a bit of a downer when an otherwise capable burrito finds itself awash in suspect-tasting salsa, but that was the unfortunate case this time through the Taq. Guadalajara foodmill. It took our palate-poor / idiocy-rich panel of judges more than a dozen bites to trace the source of the discomforting aftertaste – rumors initially flew that the purple-hued refried beans were the culprit – but it all made sense when the final determination was made, since the slab-dominating grilled chicken took a burrito-long bath in the stuff. We’ve rarely seen heftier cuts of meat within tortilla walls, and such plus-sized butchery made for a few unwieldy bites. At least the size of the chicken chunks was proportional to its holding tank – this was a big dinner-in-foil. The rice soaked up its share of the ill-flavored sauce, but our panel took note of the complete absence of pico de gallo by delivering that disappointed-parent look nobody ever wants to see, as well as a vegetable rating of only seven mustaches (avocado helped save the day). Spice? Never a major factor here, since they didn't employ their dragonsbreath habańero. But we enjoyed the nicely grilled tortilla, gaffe-free construction, and hot temperatures through and through.
05/03/05Super Pastor$4.908.08 Mustaches
Do you seek venerable results at a non-Mission taqueria? Enjoy the occasional salvo of floridly descriptive adverbs? This sentence is for you: Head for the corner of Mission and Onondaga in the Excelsior, where mighty tasty, smartly constructed burritos feature deliciously vibrant vegetables tightly wrapped in magnificently grilled tortillas. While Guadalajara’s work isn’t of gold medal quality, it’s generally solid and good for eight mustaches on our scale. They’re also known to step out onto the high-wire of unusual ingredient choices, as this burrito’s pico de gallo subtly included small chunks of grilled pineapple, which added a sweet tang to a number of bites. On the ignoble side of the ledger, the marinated, occasionally fatty pork didn’t wow us much, and the overall ingredient mix didn’t coalesce until two-thirds of the slab had disappeared. And where were the beans? Totally under the radar, apparently. But when the cheese is this on-target and the avocado slices are this well-placed, the pros are bound to greatly outweigh the cons.
05/12/03Super Carne Asada$4.908.00 Mustaches
The Guadalajara burrito’s greasiness was thankfully overshadowed by its tangy, sauce-soaked steak and solid overall ingredient ensemble. Bulging and weighty, the slab’s initial bites were alarmingly heavy on sour cream, but the ingredient mix smoothed itself out soon enough.