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Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly, September 2009back to archive

First-time reader? We've prepared an Apocalypse primer just for you. Grizzled veteran? Grab a stiff horchata at the bar and hang tight.

Because we realize you may not be so interested in reading every word of every one of our burrito reviews, there's Bite. Chew. Mull., a condensed guide to our previous month's taqueria visits. Sorry, neither chips nor stomach digestives included.

Our publishers believe in the spirit of healthy debate that an open question/answer town hall forum can provide, and for this, there's Dear Beano. Of course, it's moderated by the surliest curmudgeon this side of Rupert Murdoch, so all bets are off. may be a proud member of the on-site commenting-averse Web 1.0 community, but at least there's Obstinate Reader Commentary, in which "the people" enjoy their sole opportunity to have their opinions on San Francisco taquerias published by our editorial team. But in truth, it's kind of an uneven feature.

And finally, there's (epilogue), home to the hurly-burly, the nitty-gritty, the halt, the infirm, and the hidden bonus track, which we promise will never lead to a site streaming a 1988 Rick Astley video.

Pull up a food.

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The Month In Foiled Meals

When six of eight burritos land squarely in eight-mustache territory, you know it's been a real good month out on the San Francisco taqueria tiles.

A trio of new joints came up rosy: the kitchens at whitey-friendly Público, spam-friendly Sunset Taq., and sequel-friendly La Michoacana each bravely kicked down Burritoeater-approved foiled meals, all the more impressive considering we expected the first two places to be less than great. Elsewhere, the New Spot (open since 2006) would have secured Slab of the Month honors had it been able to crack the code enabling chile verde / refried beans cooperation. However, as things finally shook out, it was old Burritoeater teacher's pet Taq. San Francisco that walked off with the shiny hardware at month's end. Although Taq. Castillo was also pretty much on the money, way more so than either El Faro or Chipotle.

TAQ. CASTILLO (McAllister) (Civic Center / Tenderloin), 8/2/2009, Super Carnitas: 8.42 mustaches
Like we said, pretty much on the money.

PÚBLICO (South of Market), 8/4/2009, Pollo Asado: 8.25 mustaches
Suburban, rural, and wilderness taquerias have nothing on the quintessential urban taqueria experience offered by Público.

SUNSET TAQ. (Outer Sunset), 8/7/2009, Super Carne Asada: 8.50 mustaches
This burrito played the quietly effective card all the way to our mustache bank.

CHIPOTLE (South of Market), 8/12/2009, Steak Fajita: 7.17 mustaches
Stranded once more in this popular restaurant chain’s desert of creeping mediocrity.

TAQ. LA MICHOACANA (Bayshore), 8/15/2009, Especial al Pastor: 8.08 mustaches
Reviews of Return To La Michoacana: The Al Pastor Experience are in: Very good again, though clearly a level below its celebrated and quite orange predecessor.

THE NEW SPOT (Dogpatch), 8/17/2009, Super Puerco en Chile Verde: 8.33 mustaches
Takeover-minded chile verde ensured a despondent rating for that oft-overlooked burrito element: beans. However!: rad parrot mural.

EL FARO (Financial District), 8/20/2009, Super Pollo Asado: 7.42 mustaches
One napkin, alright. Otherwise, shrugs all around.

TAQ. SAN FRANCISCO (Mission), 8/23/2009, Super Carne Asada: 8.75 mustaches
Our first trip back to Taq. San Francisco in the wake of its bungled 2008 Scrum semifinal effort was a winning return to form. Slab of the Month, August 2009.

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The Month In Testy Exchanges

Do you remember a few months back when our in-house taqueria sage "went nice" for one Apocalypse issue? Do you remember how it went over like flatulence in church from an ill-behaved young boy? It was like Dylan going electric, only without the absurd hilarity of readers sending Beano e-mails with "JUDAS!!" in the subject line.

So, Mr. Cook's gloves are off this month, and we're pretty sure they're not going back on anytime soon. Can you withstand his Indian summer heat? If so, give him a bell at with your taqueria-related inquiries -- brilliant, lunkheaded, or simply boring as they may be.

Dear Beano: What's your take on black beans? It seems like you're partial to refried beans, but I also see you mention black beans from time to time in the burritos you sample.
Dear Apocalypse reader: If by "sample," you mean "eat in its entirety," I was raised a refried beans man out in Turlock. That's just how it was back then. You had refried beans, and that was it. Fava beans were for the Italian grocers and their families up in Sloughhouse near Sacramento, and garbanzos only really had inroads over the hills by the coast, in the farming communities around Watsonville, that area. Anyway. Um. Black beans? I have them occasionally (same with whole pintos), and sometimes I even quite enjoy these black beans, most often in a chile relleno burrito. But I can't shake the rich, smoky taste of refrieds. The adhesive qualities of a particularly pasty batch of refrieds is always a deal-closer for me. Did I mention I also love to eat plain lard straight from the vat? Terrific headache cure.

Dear Beano: What are some of these words you use? Are there five-pound thesauruses all over your office? Consider "dumbing it down" for some of the laypeople in your audience.
Dear Apocalypse reader: In a world where “genius” is now often used as a put-down, can the dumb really get any more down? Would you prefer the entirety of to read like this?

Dear Beano: I see that Taco Hell now features a bacon cheesy potato burrito on its menu. Note I said "cheesy," not "cheese." I dare you.
Dear Apocalypse reader: You dare me what? To try it? Go jump in a "cheesy" lake.

Dear Beano: I wore my Burritoeater shirt to the Oakland Coliseum last Friday night, and talked the site up to a couple of guys I know from the East Bay after they asked what the hell was with the giant mustache on my chest. They may be on your mailing list soon. One of them told me he likes to make up bad band names -- one of his favorites has always been Defeated By Burritos.
Dear Apocalypse reader: Nicely done. Our design team definitely took the understated route on those T-shirts, no? Nothing says “Hey look!” like a bold yellow mustache on a brown tee. Which is why every holiday season the things sell like hot fruit cakes and cured meats.

Dear Beano: Do you get free burritos? My son wants to work for you.
Dear Apocalypse reader: I didn't get into this racket to filch off hard-working taqueria owners and their staffs in rough economic times. Tell your stingy kid to get a paper route and earn his own burrito money.

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The Month In Hit-And-Run Internet Commenting

And now, the monthly feature one Burritoeater staffer described as an "amazing, endless telethon." We're not too sure what she means by that, but how often is anything compared to an "amazing, endless telethon" anymore?

Submit your thoughts on the vibrant, vivacious, volatile, and totally full-on San Francisco taqueria scene! Have your innermost thoughts on the matter posted on the Internet! Have your name withheld upon publishing so nobody knows it's you!

Where else can you indulge in such egoism and egolessness at the same time -- and on the house? Come on, the deals at Big Lots aren't even this good. Correspond today!:

(Comments may be edited for spelling, clarity, and/or brevity at our editorial board's discretion. Except when we decide to publish them as-is, like with the second comment below.)

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La Salsa is a corporate-lunch hellhole.”

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"I was looking in your site and I checked a few taquerias and also Taq. Pepe's in Rincon Center in San Francisco. I want to let you know that you should try to see the difference and improved quality and taste of the food under this new owner. Pepe's should be in the Best Taqueria in San Francisco category. The food, service, taste is now all incredible and fantastic."
OK, thanks. Hey, just curious: You don't happen to know this new owner personally, do you? Or even be this new owner personally? -Ed.

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"Glad to see you've noted the improvements El Metate has made to its burritos of late. When it opened, the tacos and quesadillas were good right off the bat, but the burritos took some time to get their act together. I live in the neighborhood, so I'm there a couple times a month these days. And yes, there is a lot of yellow happening in that new-ish dining room of theirs."

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Kindly direct news of taqueria openings, closures, or name-changes here:

We're just tickled beige to be here, Jim.

Now for this month's hidden bonus track.

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Yours, in delicious horchata,