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Toro, El MissionOMR: 7.64
598 Valencia
cross street: 17th St.
ph. 415/431-3351
Map Visits: 5
El Toro not only shares management with nearby Mission burrito temple Taq. Pancho Villa, but a similar counter procedure and menu as well. Something about a visit to this shop, however, seems more relaxed than a trip to Mr. Villa’s Neighborhood, even if the napkins here are a coarse disaster. A 2007-08 remodel brightened the room significantly. Credit cards accepted. Bottled beer available.

Will My Health Be Violated?

01/27/11Especial Chicken Fajitas$8.007.67 Mustaches
Swish: beans (9); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8); cheese (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: vegetables (7); sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7); burstage abatement (7); tortilla (6); rice (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Consistently toasty temperatures and a particularly worthy set of refried beans were the only outstanding elements of this rightly sized slab, which otherwise struggled with an occasionally sog-prone tortilla, some dry-ish rice, and quite a lot of unwieldiness. El Toro’s fajitafication system was anchored by slices of notably crunchy green bell pepper and scattered, long-cut onion, but we weren’t even impressed enough to dole out eight mustaches for the effort; spiciness was effectively effusive throughout, however. The chicken may have been freshly grilled — and hooray for that — while the ingredient mix was good enough to be good, and nothing more. Two-mustache intangibility was justified in the end, belying the punchless overall rating.

02/16/08Especial Carnitas$6.957.58 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); rice (9); temperature (9); size (8); meat (8); beans (8); sauciness (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: vegetables (7); tortilla (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: cheese (3)
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Our first visit to newly renovated El Toro resulted in much bright afternoon light cascading in through the new windows, and a burrito just as shrug-worthy as the last one we’d had here nearly two years before. Construction was impervious to failure, and we quite enjoyed the pea/carrot-flecked Spanish rice. But serious cheese-related gaffes and an overall feeling of lovelessness had us yawning our way through our porky meal. The slab’s dull vibe was introduced by the merely-there tortilla (ungrilled and even unsteamed, on our watch) and continued on through the harmless spiciness. The carnitas, though on the soft and salty side, turned out mighty tasty, and we made good friends with the thickly applied guacamole and excellent refried beans from the get-go. And to the El Toro kitchen’s credit, we wish every burrito’s ingredient mix were this fluid and inclusive. But even a post-foiling trip to the grill couldn’t melt those chunky grates of jack cheese, and that got us down, down, real down.

05/15/06Super Steak Fajitas$7.357.58 Mustaches
What a jumbled mess. Sure, everything tasted fine, but between a heaping helping of sauce-slurp, a few pervious construction moves, and an overly generous payload of poorly chopped steak, there was no graceful way to gnaw through this lengthy, slightly chubby slab. For starters, many bites of El Toro’s fearlessly grilled beef and long-cut onion brought back memories of endless strings of spaghetti we sucked up back in the days of We went with a red chile tortilla this time through, and while we appreciated certain subtleties it provided, it couldn’t completely dam the river of salsa roja – one end of this blimp turned into a total wetland. Still, nothing here clanged our bell of bad flavor in the least. Large-grain Spanish rice and smoothly pasty refried beans made for nice building blocks, and the excellent ingredient mix was particularly striking at times. Small grates of jack cheese contributed quietly amongst all the louder elements on hand, and although we would have preferred higher-profile positioning for the tomato-spackled guacamole, we accepted it as it was. But not even a perfect 10 for temperature could raise this burrito’s rating out of the mid-seven doldrums. It was a structural battle we won’t soon forget.
08/24/05Super Spicy Chicken$7.358.17 Mustaches
At $7.35, El Toro’s super burrito isn’t for the penny-pinching burrito connoisseur. Sure, it’s a relative splurge, but unlike a few other pricey taquerias around town (360° Gourmet Burritos, Andalé), it’s tough to feel jilted when the burritowork is this exceptional. Nothing drew our ire here. In fact, we were positively captivated by certain elements of this burrito, from its sizable heft to its outstanding, plump-grain, pea-pelted Spanish rice. In a rare fit of creative outerwrap, we specified a red chile tortilla; though steamed and a bit on the chewy side, it added a subtle, uncustomary taste. Immediate burstage concerns were allayed by some rich, adhesion-promoting guacamole and – pardon the brief loss of humility - our time-honored containment skills. The generous chunks of spicy chicken, while bunched together at times, were delicately moist and mighty tasty – a strong focal point. Considerable spice and consistently pervasive sauce also impressed, and we appreciated their cheese-melting efforts. This giant slab was soft and definitely could have been hotter overall, but neither shortcoming turned out to be much of a quality inhibitor. When you charge this much for a burrito, it had better not lag. This burrito did not lag.
04/04/03Super Carne Asada$6.458.00 Mustaches
A solid, but unspectacular effort characterized by a very strong set of final bites. No other details available, other than that it was produced by an assembly line of demure women in little blue caps.