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Taco Loco MissionOMR: 7.68
3274 24th St.
cross street: Mission
ph. 415/282-7018
Map Visits: 8
Variety meats galore — buche, tripitas, you name it — litter Crazy Taco's menu, along with all your usual mainstream favorites. Venture over here when the line at El Farolito around the corner becomes unbearable...just don't expect nearly the same slabular quality. Credit cards accepted. Open late. Breakfast and bottled (and canned) beer available.

Will My Health Be Violated?

02/02/13Super Pollo Asado$6.766.83 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); temperature (9); meat (8)
Shrug: rice (7); vegetables (7); sauciness (7); spiciness (7); size (6); tortilla (6); beans (6)
Clang: cheese (4); ingredient mix (4)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

What can we say? Our panel was hungry. How else to explain why we still vaguely enjoyed this miserably rated slab and its piles of unmelted cheese, stupid ingredient mix, and sticky, unattractive tortilla? Low-profile refried beans and just-there rice complemented the fully average level of spice, all making for a real dull dining experience. On the positive slant, Taco Loco's chicken was nicely sauced and grilled, no cool bites reared up (a surprise, considering all the unmelted cheese), and the undersized thing was neat to eat. It's abundantly clear, though, that this stalwart taqueria's best days are likely well behind it — a bummer, since we enjoyed a nine-mustache burrito here at one point. (By “one point,” we do mean “2005.”)

04/18/10Super al Pastor$7.357.58 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); cheese (9); size (8); beans (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: rice (7); vegetables (7); ingredient mix (7); burstage abatement (7); tortilla (6); meat (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This rightly sized slab may have had twin-mustache intangibility, hot bites, and melted cheese in its corner, but it lagged in too many other critical areas to merit any extra cred. The Spanish rice remained unusually quiet throughout, although the fine refried beans made enough sonorous noise. The veggie army couldn’t quite conquer our eight-mustache hill, and the ingredient mix set almost all the pork off on its own, which led to two types of bites here: meaty and unmeaty. Down the scale, the (very) lightly grilled tortilla fell prey to creeping pork grease, which drew a straight line to the legitimate burstage concerns that crept up on more than one occasion. Spice threatened to rise up here and there, but never did. That pork sure was well-grilled, but what it lacked in flavor punch it tried to make up for in grease-throwing. It pretty much succeeded.

06/30/09Super Carne Asada$6.688.33 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); meat (9); cheese (9); spiciness (9); size (8); vegetables (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: rice (7); beans (6)
Clang: ingredient mix (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Despite an atrocious side-to-side ingredient mix and a set of refried beans that could have used some further refrying (or at least a refresh), our sixth on-record dip into the Crazy Taco’s burrito pool was a real pleasant swim. A vise-like grasp of burrito-making basics — constant hot bites, idiot-proof construction — provided not only a rock-solid foundation, but an opportunity to use three hyphenated phrases in one of this review’s earliest sentences. Elsewhere on the mega-mustache tip, our judges panel forgave a couple of fatty cuts of steak en route to awarding nine mustaches for the freshly grilled, juicy, onion-accompanied steer; shame, then, that it was more bunched than a crowd of boys in the early going at a seventh grade after-school dance. The us-vs.-them mix led to far too many all-meat bites and all-everything-else bites, but nobody on the panel was complaining too much about how anything tasted, except of course for the beans and somewhat mushy Spanish rice. Pickled jalapeño slices upped the spice ante an extra mustache. And the whole food package was respectably sized and ate mighty tidily. Lightly grilled tortilla and melted Jack cheese grates OK!

05/29/08Super Breakfast (al Pastor)$7.008.08 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); beans (9); vegetables (9); ingredient mix (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); eggs (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: spiciness (7); temperature (7)
Clang: cheese (5)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

And it was on this morning that slabular science was bucked, as El Taco Loco’s kitchen crafted a sharply mixed burrito that somehow fell prey to the scourge of temperature inequity. Granted, only one bite was full-on chilly, while others merely hinted at cooler temps...but look no further than the disappointing performance by the tiny grates of Jack cheese for evidence of this burrito's inexplicable behavior. Everything else, however, was pretty much on-point, from the spill-free construction and mildly grilled tortilla to the aforementioned graceful mix. Refried beans behaved themselves, knew their role, and tasted real fine, while the outstanding vegetable posse was anchored by robust cuts of grilled onion and stewed tomato. The unextravagant, ruthlessly diced pork sank into the mix more anonymously than meats usually do, but it didn't matter so much since it shared top billing with a set of fluffy scrambled eggs. Spice could have hit harder, but we didn’t take much note, considering how baffled and distracted we were by the whole temperature oddity. Intangibility took a one-mustache hit, but this long, slender, unorthodox burrito still had enough going for it to crest Eight-Mustache Hill.

09/22/06Super Carnitas$6.607.25 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (10); cheese (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (9); size (8)
Shrug: meat (7); rice (7); ingredient mix (7); beans (6)
Clang: vegetables (5); sauciness (4); spiciness (3)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

As we settled into the same booth where we'd been sledgehammered by a nine-mustache monstrosity in July 2005 (scroll down a taste), we hoped for similar results. No dice, not even – a paucity of sauce and spice, as well as an underwhelming cadre of vegetables, saw to this burrito’s relegation to the low-seven ghetto. Certain items, such as the terrifyingly grilled tortilla and straight-on-the-mark melted jack, harkened back to The Crazy Taco’s day in the sun...but by the final bite, they constituted nothing more than one hell of a tortilla-and-cheese gift set. Even the tasty carnitas got tripped up by all the erring elements, as the lack of salsa exposed the fried pork’s heavy salt fixation; the gluttonous amount (and massive pulls) of meat didn’t crash in too gracefully, either. A few unnecessary tortilla folds prevented a perfect burstage abatement rating, while the refried beans had no business being this lifeless. The smidgen of avocado spied in the late stages underscored how short we felt we’d been sold on this afternoon, a fact not lost on our ever-reliable intangibility meter.

05/12/06Super Pollo Asado$6.098.25 Mustaches
Although its final rating was more than respectable, this burrito still underachieved in our book. Are we the taskmasters of Slabs 101? Perhaps, but any taqueria that shows it can hit our nine-mustache heights (see 07/01/05, below) rightfully gets saddled with Himalayan expectations. The deliciousness here was never in doubt – from bite one, this lengthy burrito had the knack. A grilled-to-flakiness tortilla swathed not only an all-melted layer of jack along its inner rim, but also a graceful mix full of several of our favorite foods. Even though the guacamole deserved more exposure than it received, the unassailable pico de gallo picked up the slack, while the capable grilled chicken bathed in an almost obscene level of sauciness. And given how well the rice imbued itself into this burrito’s host of ingredients (a total rarity, for rice is the annual recipient of our Least Likely to Play Well with Others plaque), at one point we thought that we may have had another nine-mustacher in our midst. This was before we noted the utter lack of end-to-end spice, as well as the fact that the refried beans were far under-represented. Sauce overflow was also a minor issue, despite a run of all-hot bites.
07/01/05Super al Pastor$6.099.00 Mustaches
Big, fat, happy day. Only the fifth nine-mustache effort on Burritoeater record (to date), this hefty slab from El Taco Loco ran the table of excellent element-to-element ratings, its cavalcade of eights, nines, and one ten serving notice to - and shaking a menacing fist at - every other taqueria along 24th St. This burrito’s road to Ciudad de Nueve Mustachio was paved with a champion ingredient mix; a well-flaked, grilled tortilla; heaping helpings of wonderfully charred, supremely sauced barbecue pork; steeltoe-kickin’ spice; all the deliciously melted cheese you could ever wish for along the inner tortilla; generous proportions, particularly length-wise; and despite these plus-sized dimensions, solid construction all around the horn. Still, more than anything, its smooth mastery of those nameless, but integral burrito intangibles – tasted, but not recorded - ultimately wrote this foodpiece’s golden check. Sure, the guacamole could have maintained a higher profile, but that’s like bellyaching about your Derby-winning pony not finishing enough lengths up on the rest of the pack. Sometimes when a burrito rates so surprisingly highly, a fluke-ish aftertaste lingers. Not here. No weaknesses.
07/21/03Super Carne Asada$5.607.75 Mustaches
This thunderous, massive burrito salvo ran the length of the serving basket. That's real long. Perhaps we had our burrito-length goggles on, but whatever the reason, we found it in our heart to forgive the sour cream abuse and isolated moments of unmelted cheese.