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San Francisco, Taq. MissionOMR: 8.31
2794 24th St.
cross street: York
ph. 415/641-1770
Map Visits: 20
Though situated towards the slightly treacherous east end of 24th St.'s Slab Row, Taq. San Francisco, despite the unnerving inconsistency of its burritowork, exudes a certain secure feeling that’s a byproduct of its simple corner setting. It’s a friendly neighborhood joint where management once posted a handwritten note on the wall explaining (and apologizing for) a 25-cent price hike. Most notably, it holds the honor of producing what was until 2009 the highest-rated slab on Burritoeater record — a 9.38-mustache colossus in February 2004; the place also ratcheted up the fourth-highest rating ever (9.27) in January 2012. Despite the cheap-ass, extra-lame chips, you can expect a jar of spicy pico de gallo on each of the room's nine tables, as well as either belching tuba-pop on the jukebox or fútbol on the TV. Just don't expect paper towels in the restroom every time. Beer available in the back-counter fridge. Commemorative logo T-shirts — available exclusively in XL, naturally — on hand for a very reasonable fee. And it's still cash only, Mr./Ms. Fancypantalones.

Will My Health Be Violated?

11/17/12Super Carnitas$6.758.00 Mustaches
Swish: vegetables (10); burstage abatement (10); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); beans (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: cheese (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Hellacious intangibility, airtight construction, and one hell of a vegetable congress took this unhulking burrito only 80 percent of the way up our Ten-Mustache Scale, as it was otherwise victimized by an ingredient mix that kept all the rice to one side and many of the spicier bites down around the hind end. Even more troublesome was the vaguely (at best) melted cheese, which failed to contribute much of anything throughout, and that's just not right, not at all. All bites were warm-to-hot, and both the rice and refried beans proved themselves assuredly capable, but the barely grilled tortilla was a distinctly unimpressive sight upon our initial foil-unveiling. Taq. San Francisco isn't known for producing the city's finest carnitas, so we expected its fried pork to toe the eight-mustache line deftly, yet unadventurously; well, it did. And even though this slab was neither particularly saucy nor dry, its ensemble of chunky avocado slices and sharp, onion-rich pico de gallo lent each bite a flavorful thrill. We just wish the rest of the slab would have been equally exciting.

01/08/12Super Chile Relleno$6.759.27 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (10); vegetables (10); spiciness (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); cheese (9); ingredient mix (9); size (8); rice (8); beans (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: no elements elicited shrugs
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

It was one of those nights we didn’t see it coming. Taq. San Francisco, one of our longtime favorite burrito shops gone woefully unpredictable on recent visits, jolted our panel wide-awake with this complete sledgehammer of a slab, and we already said we didn’t see it coming. We didn’t expect a tortilla this wonderfully grilled and flaky, nor did we expect a chile relleno to assume the position of centerpiece in such gracefully dominant fashion. How? How could we have spotted, even in the near distance, such a spectacularly realized ingredient mix, its sole shortcoming a small, but forceful pod of avocado slices that didn’t appear until the hind end? We were stoked at the reality of a full run of hot bites, perfect construction, and wise ingredient portioning, not to mention ass-kicking / name-taking spice that hurt our panel so good, if you know what we mean. Maybe we were anticipating unstoppable intangibility — which of course we got, and then some — but the truth is, we really don’t know, since rumor has it that it was one of those nights we didn’t see it coming. All that’s clear in retrospect is that this was the sort of burrito we chain-bit.

11/14/10Super Pollo Asado$6.257.58 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (10); burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); rice (9); temperature (9); size (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: meat (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: beans (5); sauciness (5); ingredient mix (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

The black beans that revealed their austere, drab selves on the first bite were a pretty strong indicator that this burrito was going to...have some struggles ahead. Did someone else in line ask for black beans? We sure didn’t; these aren't ours. Other quality-destitute elements here included a sharply divisive ingredient mix — the rice, deliciously buttery as it was, had virtually no opportunity to mingle with much else — and an alarming lack of salsa. Just slightly up the scale, too many other elements were just happy to be here, most notably the only-peripheral spice and the micro-diced chicken that had blandness pinned to the mat all Greco-Roman-style. The weirdly tomato-deficient pico de gallo tried to compensate with its robust flavor, and there was no grousing about all the avocado and onion on hand; same goes for the scads of melted cheese, which put on a hell of a performance. We appreciated the stellar grilled tortilla and steady stream of hot bites, to say nothing of this fair-sized slab’s winning construction. But this was a patently strange burrito from a taqueria that, as much as we’ve trumpeted its cause over the many years, was a bit of a tipping point — in the wrong direction.

02/04/10Super al Pastor$6.258.00 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); temperature (8)
Shrug: beans (7); sauciness (7); cheese (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Buoyed by stratospheric intangibility, our 17th (!) on-record burrito at quintessential San Francisco taqueria Taq. San Francisco seemed to play far above the level of its unspectacular rating. This sleeper slab kept a grip on respect by overcoming isolated pods of unmelted cheese and a somewhat unsound ingredient mix, although we felt certain bites could have been hotter. Pork was plentiful and right smoky, but oddly shredded; refried beans were mighty tasty, yet sporadic in appearance. The marvelously grilled tortilla came off a tad moist at the start, while the veggie gang was anchored by bitchin-as-usual pico de gallo and the occasional smashed avocado slice. Spice remained angrily tall throughout. Not bad for an off-night.

08/23/09Super Carne Asada$6.258.75 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (10); spiciness (10); meat (9); vegetables (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); rice (8); cheese (8); sauciness (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: beans (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Led by marvelously ruinous spice and a perfectly grilled tortilla that set the stage for great things within, our first trip back to Taq. San Francisco in the wake of its bungled 2008 Scrum semifinal effort was a winning return to form. This delicious, beefy scud was proof positive that despite having made a few missteps over the years, this corner slabbery never stays down for long...rah-rah, etc. etc. A few minor temperature flaws reared up here and there as a result of the too-cool pico de gallo, and Taq. San Francisco’s refried beans have never exactly been the finest in their class, but other than these manageable complaints, pretty much everything here landed in “swish” territory. From the generous diced onion and avocado slices, and the brown rice that knew its place in the burrito equation, to the slightly greasy but undeniably tasty steak, this foiled meal ratcheted up another tall OMR for the off-Mission mainstay. Rah-rah, etc. etc.

12/03/08Super Carnitas$6.257.50 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: rice (7); beans (7); cheese (6); ingredient mix (6); temperature (6)
Clang: meat (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Two bites into this dirty trick of a dinner, our baffled panel slunked toward Taq. San Francisco’s counter, slab-basket in hand, and inquired, No, really: Carnitas or pollo? We’d ordered a carnitas burrito, and we were indeed assured ours was a carnitas burrito, but we’ll be damned if it wasn’t the most poultry-like pork we’d ever gnashed at any local taqueria: soft, often pinkish of hue, and an unavoidably negative force within the fabric of this foiled fiasco...and at Scrum time, no less! Introductory bites were derailed by chilly temperatures, and although the whole affair warmed up and became better mixed over the course of the burrito, the damage was done in those crucial early stages. Overly bunchy tortilla folds down at the hind end hinted at a rookie slabmaker in the kitchen, but a few things went right, from the fervent spice and lovingly grilled tortilla to the excellent set of vegetables on hand. Still, we were certain for a few moments we’d had the wrong burrito foisted upon us – perhaps even from another taqueria entirely. Not the case. This was an all-too-real buzzkill.

11/16/08Super Pollo Asado$6.258.92 Mustaches
Swish: vegetables (10); ingredient mix (10); burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); sauciness (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); beans (8)
Shrug: cheese (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

We didn’t think they made ingredient mixes like this anymore. Thought they went out with pagers and mesh hats worn at 30-degree angles. In any event, leave it to San Francisco’s namesake taqueria to reinvent the burrito mixology wheel better than ever. Every bite here seemed to contain a bit of everything on hand, from the mega-flavorful pico de gallo and lightly peppered cuts of grilled chicken to the remarkably distributed (and spicy!) salsa verde. This was a true ensemble of a burrito, where no single facet dominated – although the pico de gallo came closest to taking home the Dominant Element of the Day plaque. The well-grilled tortilla introduced this reasonably sized slab and each of its inherent charms, as well as its sole minor flaw: overly subtle grates of cheese. The gang of vegetables took zero prisoners from top to bottom, its soldiers of avocado slices, pickled tomato, and diced onion marching lockstep with flavor. And it’s a crying shame that a burrito this magnificent has to get saddled with a totally uncalled-for military metaphor at the end of its review.

03/01/08Super Chile Relleno$6.258.73 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (10); temperature (10); tortilla (9); vegetables (9); sauciness (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); rice (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: beans (7); ingredient mix (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

For no real reason at all, it took us 13 on-record visits to go meatless at our favorite San Francisco taqueria, Taq. San Francisco. This nicely sized slab was clearly worth the delay. The dark green casing of the central chile component delivered subtle flavor and a whole hell of a lot of melted panela cheese from within, while the standard-issue jack cheese supplied equally gooey charm. The flour tortilla clearly received the sort of spirited grilling we’ve come to expect from this kitchen, and other than a few harmless drips that resulted in three napkins getting put to the test, construction was airtight and infallible. We felt as if the peripheral refried beans could have infused more tasty sludge into the mix, but seven mustaches is still a respectable seven mustaches. The Spanish rice fared slightly better for its taste, but it lined one side – and one side only – of the inner tortilla, so the overall ingredient mix suffered, if only marginally. Crucially, every bite was a hot bite, and the cavalcade of vegetables (sliced avocado, highly tangy pico de gallo, pretty much the works) was typically on-point. Come to think of it, the whole foiled affair was typically on-point.

07/01/07Super al Pastor$5.758.75 Mustaches
Swish: vegetables (10); spiciness (10); burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); cheese (9); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); beans (8)
Shrug: sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Rocketing higher on our mustache charts than any of its predecessors dating back to April 2005, this fantastic slab made a whole bunch of smooth moves. We’re talking about a championship-caliber vegetable salvo, anchored by numerous avocado slices and some of the punchiest pico de gallo in town. We’re talking about spiciness that kicked the whole extravaganza up much more than just a notch. We’re talking about single-napkin construction-comportment. All this, plus the sort of gooey-jack-cheese-on-a-grilled-tortilla stuntwork we fall head over heels for every single time. And of course, no cold bites...not even any lukewarm ones. Piles of pastor – clearly the central element here – may not have carried the Mission’s biggest flavor hammer on this visit, but it averted the greasy slip-n-slide that can often bruise saucy, marinated pork. Light rice and subtly pasty refried beans each stayed within their supporting roles, and this display of ingredient humility helped us all feel a little better about ourselves by the final bite. There were moments when we thought the meat was hogging a bit too much space, and while this burrito was far from dry, we did note its slightly shorthanded salsafication a time or two. But the whole exceeded the sum of the parts, and at our favorite corner table on a sunny summer evening, everything seemed pretty alright for awhile.

10/24/06Super Carnitas$5.758.58 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (10); cheese (10); temperature (10); vegetables (9); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: beans (7); meat (6); rice (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

After a pair of efforts which saw Taq. San Francisco staggering all underachiever-like around the eight-mustache threshold, the old 24th St. warhorse ponied up and grabbed back some respect with this solid effort. Were it not for the overly fatty carnitas, slightly underrepresented refrieds, and off-kilter brown rice that had us reaching for synonyms for “weird-tasting,” this burrito would have signaled a full nine-mustache re-emergence for this corner slabshop. Nonetheless, a fistful of kudos were still in order for a whole slew of elements, starting with the killer-grilled tortilla / all-melted jack duo, the slammin’ pico de gallo (heavy on tangy jalapeño, light on lameness), and the all-inclusive ingredient mix that seemed to loop just about everything into each bite. Too many internal tortilla folds prevented a perfect burstage abatement rating, but at least the scourge of burstage itself was fully abated. Overall sizing was very respectable – a significant step up from the slender foodpieces ingested during recent visits. Spiciness hit many impressive high notes as it ebbed and flowed (mostly flowed) throughout, while plenty of sliced avocado called the tune all slab long. Granted, the fried pork provided a meaty letdown, and the burrito’s final rating wasn’t quite sharp enough for a spot in the 2006 Slab Scrum semifinals, but certain other victories were apparent between all the flaky tortilla folds.

09/26/06Super Carne Asada$5.758.00 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8)
Shrug: meat (7); rice (7); beans (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7); size (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Eight mustaches is nothing to grouse about, and we hope it never will be. Still, given this burrito’s respectable, but thoroughly unspectacular performance, we’re a bit concerned that Taq. San Francisco could be settling into a pattern of slabular complacency at this stage of its career. This was our second foodpiece in a row here to display a disappointingly girthless shape, and with too many tortilla folds gaffling any shot at a perfect burstage abatement rating, this burrito’s whole feel was just a little off-kilter. Nothing clanged taste-wise, but the lightly grilled tortilla held little visual evidence of much grill-time, while neither the serviceably juicy carne asada, nor the light brown rice or refried beans maintained any sort of special presence. A few elements from higher-rated times persevered: Melted cheese along the inner tortilla made it happen all slab long, and the gang of veggies (highlighted by jalapeño-fueled pico de gallo and a couple of avocado slices) was typically vivacious. Spice beat hind, took names, and forced us to swig Negra Modelo. Overall temperature was just short of all-hot, but nice and warm all the same. And intangibility, despite the ennui-laden tone of this review, was worth two bonus hairy ones. But polite, well-mannered deliciousness is not what made Taq. San Francisco a legend in our panel’s minds.

05/19/06Super Pollo Asado$5.757.83 Mustaches
Well then. Longtime Burritoeater observers will recall Leap Day 2004, when this quietly storied, but occasionally inconsistent slabhouse chose a climactic moment to come up short en route to a bridesmaid’s finish in that winter’s citywide tournament. (See our March 5, 2004 Intestinal Apocalypse Weekly for the full story.) But really, Taq. San Francisco’s first-ever visit to the sub-8.00-mustache hinterlands on this evening was an equal letdown. Not even four perfect element ratings – in recognition of the ruthlessly grilled tortilla, ever-melted jack cheese along the inside of that tortilla, hot-bite sweep, and impervious burstage abatement – could offset what amounted to a disgruntling mix of ingredients pining for some simple salsa enhancement during their brief existence. Sizing was strangely slender (though long), while poor ingredient integration evinced itself in that we didn’t hit any refried beans until perhaps two-thirds of the way in. Given the lamentable lack of sauce, the brown rice was left too high and dry for its own good, and the merely serviceable pieces of grilled chicken could have used one of those total marinade-makeovers we’ve heard about. Spice arrived courtesy of some mighty peppery pico de gallo – which, along with a total work-over of Taq. San Francisco’s usual array of vegetables (avocado, cilantro, chopped onion, etc. etc.), brought some respect to this burrito that seemed a little hell-bent on tarnishing this shop’s considerable legacy. Let’s hope it was just an off-night, and not an early sign of a slip into the upper reaches of mediocrity. At least the guy next to us thoroughly enjoyed his.
08/16/05Super al Pastor$5.008.42 Mustaches
Over the years, Taq. San Francisco's burritos have proven themselves immune to catastrophic rating dips. Just as it’s unfair to expect a 9.38-mustache steamhammer every time we walk through their door (see 2/16/04 review below), a few elements can always be counted on to carry their blimps through a just-off performance, like this one. Big mustache gainers on this evening included Taq. SF’s usual grilled-to-greatness tortilla, internal wall of melted jack, immaculate construction, and some awfully well-marinated and tasty barbecue pork; some Doc Marten-clad spiciness also put an infernal, steel-toe boot straight through our grill. All this superiority compensated for a surprising lack of plumpness, a minor paucity of sauce, and a slightly disappointing overall temperature. Overall, the burrito still hit the highest reaches of our intangibility scale, and its Spanish rice, refried beans, and strong vegetable inclusions (including generous slices of avocado) were all pillars of reliability. Taq. San Francisco may not set records on every visit, and their OMR may slip ever so slightly on an off night, but at this point we’re certain they’re incapable of serving an inferior slab - at least on our watch.
04/10/05Super Carnitas$5.009.00 Mustaches
Our first recorded foray into Taq. San Francisco’s selection of non-carne asada meats proved as monumentally successful as most every steak burrito we’ve ever enjoyed at the corner of 24th St. and York, for we learned there is zero worry in ordering their’s well-spiced (if slightly fatty) fried pork. The only remote complaint here was with the inconsistent ingredient mix, which settled itself by the final third of this burrito’s existence. A cavalcade of 10-mustache ratings – for cheese, vegetables, temperature, and burstage abatement – provided the thunder, while a near-perfectly grilled tortilla, solid rice and refried beans, and backpat-worthy sauce and spice content drove the delicious point home with grace and fury. That’s right, grace and fury. This place should be designated a local holy site.
02/29/04Super Carne Asada$4.758.38 Mustaches
Here’s where the story ends, where our openly acknowledged favorite taqueria in town face-planted for all to see while rounding third base, limping around the bend to the clanging, atonal tune of its second-lowest mustache rating ever and choking on its own ambition in the process. How? Well, as strongly as Taq. San Francisco’s stand-by ingredients/elements (titanic sizing, grilled-to-flakiness tortilla, top-rate vegetables and spiciness) performed, it was a few unhot bites and a set of ingredients presumably mixed under the direct supervision of a complete stooge that quietly began this slab on its downward spiral. But what really bounced its check all the way to the Bank of Bill Buckner in the end was its paucity of saucy goodness – everyone agrees that five-mustache ratings have absolutely no place on the tournament's last day. After the final bite, it was nothing but sad songs and waltzes at 24th St. and York on this night.
02/25/04Super Carne Asada$4.758.92 Mustaches
With the previous week's 9.38-mustache monstrosity still firmly wedged in everyone's burrito memory bank, a few pundits predicted a runaway finals victory for Taq. San Francisco. But this slightly flawed gem reinforced the fact that these finals versus Papalote up 24th St. would be no civic toss-off. A particularly bizarre shortfall took place on this burrito’s tortilla front - from the taqueria with the most lovingly grilled tortillas in town, no less. Another textbook mix on hand here, one which allowed us to enjoy every fine ingredient in practically every bite. Other burrito fundamentals – consistently hot temperatures, rock-solid composition, and much melted cheese – took their usual place in line and received perfect (or near-perfect) scores.
02/16/04Super Carne Asada$4.759.38 Mustaches
This galloping stampede of bulky greatness remains our highest-rated burrito on record in San Francisco, one in which every single category received at least an eight-mustache rating. Oddly, this one was somewhat smaller than the previous week's monstrosity of flavor, but still, six perfect ingredient ratings are six perfect ingredient ratings. A slippery hint of lime underscored the entire piece, from the grilled-to-flaky tortilla and wonderfully marinated carne asada to the extraordinary medley of vegetables and surely one of the wisest ingredients mixes ever witnessed by anyone. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention everyone’s favorite tasty adhesion: plentiful melted cheese, a Taq. San Francisco hallmark. The spice kicked us right in the taste buds, and they even worked a minor miracle with the sour cream this time around. Truly bad-ass.
02/09/04Super Carne Asada$4.758.92 Mustaches
Quite possibly the largest burrito ever assembled. (We save our most superlative overstatements for these Taq. San Francisco write-ups.) Just as the brown rice and refried beans were deft role players in this burrito’s stage production, a cavalcade of star ingredients turned in individual performances of a lifetime: the grilled-to-the-point-of-flakiness tortilla; hefty chunks of avocado among the top-shelf veggie medley; some lime-tinged pico de gallo; and of course, plentiful melted cheese. Given the burrito’s herculian proportions, a few slightly unwieldy moments were endured, but thankfully no runs, drips, or ingredient dumps occurred. The one area of concern here was a lack of saucy goodness, but everything else about this mammoth specimen was such a sledgehammer that its low sauce content was hardly a high-profile gaffe.
01/24/04Super Carne Asada$4.758.30 Mustaches
Take our dream burrito - chunky/lengthy heft, a wall of melted cheese along the grilled tortilla's interior, exceptional steak, toppermost vegetables / rice / refried beans, all mixed just right – then suck out a portion of the sauciness and almost all the spice, and what you have is what we had here at our acknowledged favorite taqueria in town. If they’d have included some of the lost sauce (where'd it go in the first place?) and crank up the spice meter (see "where'd-the-sauce-go?"), this one’s a nine-mustache serial killer. As is stands, here’s further proof that we always act on the most objective terms possible, for us giving a Taq. San Francisco burrito this kind of rating is like kicking your best friend out of your apartment. Okay, that's a bit dramatic.
02/28/03Super Carne Asada$4.758.75 Mustaches
An impeccably grilled tortilla cradled a seamless array of top-flight ingredients in this massive slab. The steak completely owned it, and there was more melted cheese than other places might use in three burritos. Possibly the greatest food in the world.