the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Maná, Taq. Union SquareOMR: 7.92
439 Stockton
cross street: Sutter
ph. 415/421-3781
Map Visits: 4
('s corporate helicopter, Mustache One, again proves valuable in shooting aerial photos of San Francisco taquerias.)

Contrary to what the accompanying photo may lead you to believe, the name of this burrito retailer is not Pete’s Cleaner Taqueria. Taq. Maná is strategically located at the southern terminus of the Stockton Tunnel, so anyone who enjoys a whiff of exhaust fumes as an appetizer (or aperitif) ought to investigate immediately. Kudos to management for the shop's 2006-07 interior/menu overhaul, which regularly attracts the attention of argyle sweater vest-clad passers-by. Burritos, boca burgers, and “beberages” all available. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sundays.

Will My Health Be Violated?

01/07/10Super Barbacoa$7.007.92 Mustaches
Swish: meat (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); tortilla (8); cheese (8); sauciness (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: rice (7); ingredient mix (7); beans (6); vegetables (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

OK, so truly outstanding elements here may have been at a minimum — although we’ll enthusiastically pigeonhole Taq. Maná’s marvelously stewy barbacoa beef as nine-mustache material. By the same token, nothing here full-on sucked, even if the veggie ensemble and guacamole in particular carried little impact and the refried beans went on mysterious leave almost right away. In between these extremes, what we had was a fine enough Thursday night slab: relatively well-mixed, with a fair amount of mostly melted Jack cheese adhered to the gently grilled (if awfully pale white) tortilla. Spice levels were consistently sharp, but we witnessed the kitchen staff take the easy route by reaching for a small bottle of Tapatio. Intangibility soldiered on through all the good-enoughness and merely warm (rarely hot) bites to still ring up two extra hairy ones, even if the final OMR didn't reach our land of mustache-glory.

09/04/07Super Pastor$7.007.50 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); size (8); tortilla (8); rice (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: meat (7); beans (7); cheese (7); spiciness (7); temperature (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: sauciness (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

There are many ways we could approach a retrospection of our Tuesday evening burrito at Taq. Maná. We could yammer on about the capable slab’s perfect burstage abatement record, or conversely, its paucity of saucity. We could play it safe and get into the hurly-burly of how the refried beans were fine, if a bit aged-tasting, or how the brown rice retained its sharpness throughout. We could rig up a paragraph-long treatise complimenting this burrito's eight-mustache tortilla and pico de gallo, or some similar journo-steez criticizing its disappointing ingredient distribution. We could be brief in our discussion of its fair-enough cheese melting acumen, or its classic super burrito dimensions. But rather than lend valuable bandwidth to any of the foregoing characteristics, we’d really prefer this burrito to be forever known for its vaguely Cajun-spiced pork, the likes of which we’d never experienced in the Cal-Mex bastardization known as a “burrito.” Kooky. Not overwhelmingly delicious, and certainly not even remotely lousy. Just kooky. The end.

12/19/05Super Chicken Fajita$6.256.75 Mustaches
The Taq. Maná burrito may have been infallibly constructed and full of warm bites, but such fundamentals can only take a slab so far in a burrito town as acutely competitive as San Francisco. What was missing here? The big red hammer of overwhelming deliciousness, mainly – blandness busted this burrito’s lock, plopped itself on the living room couch, cracked open a beer from the fridge, and wouldn’t leave. The chunks of grilled chicken were dressed up with a whole plumage of grilled accessories (slices of red bell pepper and jalapeño, mushrooms) that left a greater impression than the meat it accessorized, and the guacamole was low-impact, if otherwise enjoyable. Light brown, mini-grain rice encroached from more than one angle, which was all a bit much to bear at times. Other than the minor fury that stemmed from the aforementioned jalapeño, spice was mostly a rumor. So, even though the grated jack was mostly melted and added some welcome flavor to the dully adequate refried pinto beans, this burrito crossed the finish line as a consummate also-ran.
09/27/03Super Carne Asada$5.757.00 Mustaches
Name your category here, it graded out about average. Most interesting storyline: Preponderance of cilantro. And to summarize: Everything was really average. Well, there you have it. Here's Phil with the weather.