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Pepe's, Taq. South of MarketOMR: 6.92
101 Spear
cross street: Mission
ph. 415/543-8616
Map Visits: 3
One of numerous dining options at One Rincon Center’s popular, fountain-splashed food court (maximum capacity: 898), this snug burrito shop features a couple of clever menu options: chicken in peppers and cream, and, um, “el pastor” (Spanish for: “the pastor”). Show up on the right afternoon and you may be regaled with florid versions of Nirvana and Nada Surf hits by the hired-hand pianist. New for 2009: friendly service! Closed evenings and weekends. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

01/28/09Grande Pollo Asado$7.256.92 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); meat (9); size (8); tortilla (8); beans (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: sauciness (7); rice (6); vegetables (6)
Clang: temperature (5); ingredient mix (4); cheese (3)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Big shame that Pepe’s band of taquistos couldn’t find a way to integrate things more fully within this thick, stubby slab. Had the hot elements not just stayed over there, and the cool elements not just stayed over there, we’d likely have had close to an eight-mustache lunch in our hands. But noooooooo. Too many unwarm bites reared up too often, the direct result of a woefully inelegant ingredient mix that segregated cool-natured items such as inconsequential guacamole and robust tomato chunks from hot steez like quite capable refried beans, mushy/bland rice, and positively delicious grilled chicken. In other news, the salsa roja was vaguely impressive-tasting, as it was perhaps the sole element here to play on both sides; and, OK, spice crept in subtly. Bullet-proof burstage abatement earned the only tip-top rating here. As for the sickly, unmelted mini-grates of Jack cheese...can we have our 50 cents back for that? Come on. It’s experiences like this that demonstrate how an ingredient mix is often the most crucial hingepoint a burrito can face in today’s ultra-competitive slab marketplace.

12/05/06Grande Chile Colorado (Beef)$6.257.17 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); meat (8)
Shrug: rice (7); beans (6); vegetables (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: temperature (5); cheese (3)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Strike one: unmelted shards of jack cheese. Strike two: workmanlike (at best) whole pinto beans. Fortunately for Taq. Pepe’s, this burrito fought off an abominable third strike. Still, there were plenty of issues to contend with, and it all started with this sizeable slab’s appalling temperature inconsistencies. Most of the meaty, ricey moments were fine; the chilly trouble was with areas not penetrated by the plentiful beef and rice. Initial excitement about the grilled tortilla – considering the impatience with which this lunch was constructed by Pepe's kitchen – gave way to surprising chewiness. Red pepper flecks and a fiery salsa roja lent fierce spice all burrito long, and we couldn’t find much to quibble about with all the sauce on hand. Beef was taste bud-friendly and easily shredded, given its chile colorado origins. Rice, though a passable role player, gave way to minor mushiness late, and the mix fell prey to the kind of ingredient segregation that promotes hot bites here and cold bites there. And they should have credited – not extra-charged – our account for the runny guacamole. Boo, runny guac. Boo, unwarm bites. Boo, big-but-dumb burritos.

01/21/05Super Chile Verde Pork$6.257.08 Mustaches
You know, it’s better without lettuce. In its previous incarnation, this place was infamous for littering their burritos with shredded lettuce and more shredded lettuce when you weren’t watching. Foul! These days, they’ve weaned themselves off that sorry habit, but cold bites and a constant hind end drip remain ongoing scourges. But the burrito wasn’t a total disaster, as truckloads of spice, mighty tasty vegetable content (particularly the guacamole), and gigantic pieces of fine pork picked up some of the slack. Count on using every ounce of your containment skills if you go – they make ’em floppy and loose here.