the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Caramba South of MarketOMR: 8.50
78 2nd St.
cross street: Jessie/Mission
ph. 415/543-TACO
Map Visits: 3
Caramba management made a few alterations after taking this taqueria over from Si Señor! in 2006, and thank goodness one of them was the replacement of the old, catastrophically bird evidence-stained front awning. Breakfast and bottled beer are available, as well as first-rate ground beef for all the burrito-burger seekers out there. And you can get fries inside your slab (or just on the side) for a buck extra. Credit cards accepted. Breakfast available until 10:30 AM. Closed evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Will My Health Be Violated?

12/09/11Super Chile Verde Pork$6.508.67 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); ingredient mix (10); meat (9); cheese (9); spiciness (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); rice (8); beans (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); size (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

How in the hell does a floppy, undersized burrito with a nothing-special tortilla rack up a tall rating like that? Well, when an ingredient ensemble is this strong and there’s intangible magic in every bite, it’s not too difficult to sidestep a few elemental misfires (see: above) en route to major success. Caramba’s chile verde sauce was infallibly delicious through and through, while a host of other aspects — all-melted cheese, bangin’ spice, no shortage of hot bites, super-rad stewed pork — all managed to carve nine-mustache letters on our panel’s tall tree of slabular criticism. We just wished this wee-sized lunch would have lasted longer.

02/04/09Super Ground Beef$7.508.17 Mustaches
Swish: meat (9); vegetables (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); beans (8); cheese (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); rice (7); spiciness (7); ingredient mix (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This burrito included ground beef and fries. And it kind of ruled. OK.

For those of you still reading who haven’t decided to toss our judges panel’s credibility into the nearest back-alley dumpster...we were expecting our Caramba lunch to be certain things – unique, sloppy, greasy, and a bit on the bizarre side, perhaps – but we never saw an eight-mustache rating coming. The ground beef may have spewed a minor amount of grease, but its sharp seasoning paired spectacularly with the fries’ nicely realized saltiness. End result: real delicious lunch. Other high points included a heavy smattering of chopped onion amongst the veggie posse, and some surprisingly rich guacamole. Temperature, construction, length, and density – this was a mighty heavy object – were each in fine form, and intangibility flew high into the winter sky. On the seven-mustache tip, the ingredient mix was respectable while the workmanlike Spanish rice it sometimes kept apart from everything else tasted slightly flat at times. The Jack/cheddar cheese blend was fully melted, but never turned into a major player. At least the refried beans played the adhesion card well. Down in San Diego, they call this a “California burrito.” We’ve got a more efficient handle for it: rad.

01/04/07Super Chicken Molé$5.997.25 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (9); meat (8); vegetables (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: size (7); rice (7); beans (7); cheese (7); ingredient mix (7); tortilla (6); sauciness (6); burstage abatement (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Sure, it tasted mostly terrific. So why the decidedly mediocre mustache rating? Were it not for our marvelously sharp containment skills, we may well have required an apron here, for this was not a gracefully designed burrito. An overabundance of tasty, but thin slop (mushy refried beans, plus salsa roja, plus lots and lots of molé) combined with a downright wrinkly, steamed tortilla to make for an unnecessarily loose wrap; slab-long anxiety ensued, and ongoing tortilla cleaves only upped the nervous ante. The chunky chicken all worked out for the best, while its accompanying molé, though a little short on thickness and overwhelming in sheer volume, made for a robust dressing. Temperature issues were thankfully minimal, and spice remained a consistently welcome factor. Other than the most commonly beguiling flaw from which an ingredient mix can suffer – segregated rice – Caramba’s kitchen created a fairly well-integrated lunch. But all that floppy debauchery gave us a minor headache by the time we left the tall pile of foil shards behind and emerged into the 2nd St. daylight.