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Metate, El MissionOMR: 7.06
2406 Bryant
cross street: 22nd St.
ph. 415/641-7209
Map Visits: 5
El Metate’s inviting dining area — in which yellow plays a significant coloration role — is a cut above other Mission taquerias, and the staff behind the counter is a friendly lot. But damn, the burritowork is spotty. There is flan. There is outdoor seating. But there is no beer. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

02/05/11Super Grilled Steak$6.006.42 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); temperature (9); meat (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); beans (7); cheese (7); size (6); rice (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: vegetables (5); sauciness (3); spiciness (3)
Intangibility bonus: 0 (of 2)

Not much went right on El Metate’s 2011 journey through our critical mustache mill. The cavalcade of disappointment kicked off with this sad burrito’s unnaturally slender dimensions, and things just took a downhill slide from there. Who’s up for some overly creamy guacamole? Not us. How about some dry Spanish rice? Nah, it’s cool. Thanks, though. Anyone for a woeful dearth of salsa and spice thrills? We’ll pass. The OK-enough tortilla, peripheral melted cheese, and shrugariffic refried beans each planted a flag atop our seven-mustache hill, and the flavorful steak was indeed the star ingredient here. But fully absent intangibility? Going once...going twice... Maybe next time.

05/01/08Super al Pastor$5.758.33 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (9); beans (9); cheese (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: rice (7); burstage abatement (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This burrito's fortunes started awkwardly – top-end burstage is no way to get things going when you’re a taqueria trying to climb out of a 6.71 OMR hole after three visits – but fortunately for all involved, things calmed down before long. Interestingly, no element earned a perfect ten, but other than some clumsy construction and a sometimes difficult ingredient mix, we were dutifully impressed by the care El Metate’s kitchen put into this winning dinner. Long and slender, and sporting a marvelously grilled (if unnecessarily ingrown) tortilla, there was much to appreciate here, from the melted cheese and sharp sauciness (a constant positive) on through the subtly buoyant vegetable ensemble. In-slab spicing was fairly fierce as well, and we totally dug how El Metate’s refrieds split the difference between bean and paste so gracefully. And now, a couple words about the pastor: deliciously roasty. Well, there you have it. Damn fine food. Mighty tasty.

06/25/06Super Pollo Asado$5.256.92 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (9); burstage abatement (9); beans (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: size (7); rice (7); vegetables (7); tortilla (6); meat (6)
Clang: cheese (5); spiciness (5); ingredient mix (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Although this long, yet slender effort clearly had some shortcomings, we doled out a bonus mustache in recognition of...we’re not quite sure what. Some sort of intangible something-or-other. But this burrito needed a little boost, since a few of its tangible elements came up well short of respectable. Most troubling was the ingredient mix, which not only denied many components the opportunity to intermingle, but bunched most of the chicken together down at the hind end. Despite a number of warm bites throughout, a dangerously high percentage of jack cheese grates remained unmelted. El Metate continued its disturbing penchant for skimping on the meat, and spice was safety-first all the way. Sauciness didn’t go overboard – rather, it found a nice level and stuck with it. Construction was solid, though it suffered from a bit of a loose wrap. Meanwhile, the chewy tortilla’s stickiness suggested it had spent the afternoon at the sauna.

09/16/05Chile Colorado (Steak)$5.257.00 Mustaches
Every now and again, we find ourselves on the business end of a meat-stuffed slab that does a spot-on impersonation of a vegetarian burrito. Look no further for the ’05 entry in this occasional series (working title: The Joke’s On Us) than El Metate, where the steak-and-potato option contained very little of either. The friendly fellows at this Bryant St. hideaway pounded out a burly specimen for us, but little did we know upon its arrival that this burrito was mostly composed of sauce. A certain amount is agreeably expected in any burrito with “chile Colorado” in its name, but between this one being a soft and unwieldy flopfest, as well as a safe harbor for chilly guacamole and mostly unmelted shards of jack cheese, our patience had run as dry by meal’s end as this burrito was moist. Cheers to El Metate’s “Mexican” rice and oft-furious spice rushes, as well as our own gold medal containment skills (which served both our napkin usage and their burstage abatement rating well). Jeers to all the cold bites and everything in cahoots. Half-assed shoulder shrugs to everything else.
08/07/03Carne Asada$4.756.00 Mustaches
El Metate apparently missed the following Surgeon General memo: "Hazardous sour cream encroachment and sketchy ingredient mixes promote jarring temperature inconsistencies. Also, please do not place the only available table in your tiny dining establishment directly next to the kitchen compost bin." On the other hand, their pico de gallo was tremendous, and a wonderfully saucy flavor persevered through this burrito’s harsh winter of cold bites.