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Burrito Express, El Western AdditionOMR: 8.62
1812 Divisadero
cross street: Bush
ph. 415/776-4246
Map Visits: 12
There's far more dining space available at this banner Divisadero taqueria than at the Burrito Train's wee Outer Sunset location, and while some ficus-bushwhacking might be in order to reach this shop’s choice windowside tables, you can handle it. Anti-environmentalists appear to be out of luck now, however, as El Burrito Express no longer presents a Styrofoam plate directly under slabs eaten on-premise. Breakfast available; bottled beer, too. Smiles from behind the kitchen counter may be in short supply, though. Credit cards accepted (if you shell out at least $10). Closed Sundays.

Will My Health Be Violated?

10/18/13Super Bronco Chile Colo. Beef$7.459.00 Mustaches
Swish: beans (10); sauciness (10); temperature (10); tortilla (9); meat (9); cheese (9); vegetables (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); rice (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: ingredient mix (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Champ saucing. The smoothest refried beans in captivity. Off-the-charts intangible charm. Hot bites! What more could a judges panel want on its outgoing on-record visit to this long-beloved taqueria? Well, since we're tossing rhetorical questions around like Wiffle Balls in the park on a sunny Saturday, why not a subtly grilled tortilla? How about more than a few clever slices of avocado? Mind including some delectable beef, moist from a lengthy soak in robust chile sauce? Slow-creeping spiciness and melted cheese will also do, thanks; same goes for a bit of glorious pico de gallo. Perhaps this burrito's floppiness didn't make for super-easy eating all the way through. And the Mexican rice that managed to hide itself for the first four or five bites...OK, those sort of things happen. In the end, however, there was really no need to fret. The Burrito Train had it all under control all along.

10/26/12Breakfast (Carnitas Pork)$8.008.33 Mustaches
Swish: beans (10); temperature (10); eggs (9); cheese (9); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); spiciness (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: sauciness (7); ingredient mix (7); vegetables (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

The power, the glory, the hammer of the gods: When a liberal spoonful of refried beans comes up as golden as it did here on Divisadero near Bush, there's only one destination sign on the Slab Train's intangibility car, and it reads "Cuidad De Los Dos Mustaches." Good grief, these refrieds were mighty, which helped cancel out the fact that only a smattering of vegetabular content appeared, or that burstage issues crept in up top (in the form of saucy soak-through) and never really subsided. We went with an unusual choice of meat — carnitas — in our egg-splattered slab, and the pork was fine and all...and certainly plentiful. As for the eggs, well, a little bit of uh-huh and a whole lot of oh yeah went a long way with our panel. (Translation: The eggs won big.) Cranking spice at the outset didn't have the legs to last, but the acutely melted cheese sure did. A clean sweep of hot bites kept us happy throughout, and so did all that intangible charm, which in turn led to a sedentary afternoon.

11/12/11Super Bronco Grilled Steak$6.808.50 Mustaches
Swish: meat (10); beans (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); tortilla (9); cheese (9); size (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: rice (7); spiciness (7); sauciness (6); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

While this super burrito-sized beast of a lunch started out with every intention of ascending our nine-mustache heights, it soon settled into a more everyday, if still fairly spectacular 8.50-mustache groove. The Slab Train’s refried beans were in absolute top form here, all pastiness and smokiness and radness. The Slab Train’s rice? A lot more ordinary. And the steak today! Papalote-comparable. Cheese was fully melted along the inner tortilla, but was kind of limited in scope; the veggie contingent, meanwhile, was pushed forward by a few avocado slices. The burrito could have done with greater salsafication, and the ingredient mix didn’t do a couple elements — mostly the rice — any real favors. But hot bites, burstage-proof construction, and roof-shattering intangibility? Check, check, and check. And of course, it’s tough to argue with a tortilla this maniacally grilled.

12/03/10Super Bronco Chicken$6.158.58 Mustaches
Swish: burstage abatement (10); beans (9); cheese (9); vegetables (9); ingredient mix (9); temperature (9); size (8); tortilla (8); rice (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: meat (7); sauciness (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Veteran visitors to this storied Western Addition — “Lower Pacific Heights” to realtors — burrito shop know that chicken isn’t the strongest-performing option in El Burrito Express’ meat arsenal. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but there’s also little doubt that it lags compared to the chile colorado beef or chile verde pork lurking behind this taqueria’s counter. One complaint that certainly can’t be levied against EBX is its unapologetically enthusiastic use of avocado, an element that left a mark on nearly every bite of this particular slab. Pico de gallo may have been overshadowed in the wake of the avocado avalanche, but these things happen — and when they do, we’re usually OK with it. We could call this fairly sized burrito “saucy,” but then we’d be doing something quite damaging to our editorial credibility called “lying.” Still, it wasn’t especially dry, so there you have it: seven-mustache adequacy. Pockets of spiciness created some fun drama along the way, and the melted cheese really did put on one hell of a performance for us. Inconsistently placed spice and the slightly separated rice prevented a perfect ingredient mix rating, and the tortilla could have been less politely grilled. But construction and intangibility were completely idiot-proof, and weren’t those refrieds all that and a bucket of lard? Yes, yes they sure were.

11/28/09Super Bronco Chile Colo. Beef$6.159.00 Mustaches
Swish: meat (10); cheese (10); temperature (10); size (9); beans (9); vegetables (9); spiciness (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); rice (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: ingredient mix (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Even with an ingredient mix that decentralized its fine Spanish rice, obfuscated the effect of its rad and ultramega-rustic refried beans, and prompted a hopelessly overwrought lead to its review, the Burrito Train still produced a slab for the ages — its second ever here on Divisadero (along with two other near-misses). At its worst, everything other than the mix was plenty good; at its best, fuhgettaboutit. Have we ever had more delicious chile colorado beef anywhere? No, we have not, not even in Vail or Aspen. Delectably stewed and perfectly textured, we couldn’t complain with a straight face that there was probably a little too much of it on hand, or that it got locked out of the final couple bites — not when it’s this good, no way. Melted Jack cheese penetrated far and wide around this sizable, densely packed burrito; hearty avocado slices and diced onion kept the veggie profile high throughout. Spiciness remained in the upper register all slab long, and the gently grilled tortilla got it done quietly, but effectively. Some minor seepage late resulted in mildly greasy fingers and a one-mustache downrating for burstage abatement, but given its perfect slate of genuinely hot bites and irrefutable intangibility, this food was still a dream come true. It pretty much ruled.

07/15/08Super Bronco Carnitas Pork$6.157.92 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (10); temperature (10); burstage abatement (10); size (8); tortilla (8); meat (8); beans (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: rice (7); ingredient mix (6)
Clang: sauciness (5); spiciness (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

A sad dearth of saucification combined with a low spice index to make this otherwise enjoyable burrito the first such sub eight-mustache entry on this reputed shop’s CV. Spanish rice was on the dry side, but of course, so was just about everything else here - although the giant chunks of fine carnitas managed to spew a nominal bit of grease. Refried beans were prominent and not a little sludgy, but good grief, were they tasty. Surprise!: whole wheat tortilla. We certainly didn’t specify it (and at least it was nicely grilled), but while it didn’t affect the tortilla’s rating adversely, it was a sign from the get-go that things were somewhat off-kilter. Still, scads of melted jack and cheddar set a new standard in its field, while we couldn’t find any temperature or construction faults to take to task. The mix could have worked the rice in better, but there’s only so much that can be done with a politely parched slab like this.

11/20/07Super Bronco Chile Verde Pork$5.658.92 Mustaches
Swish: beans (10); temperature (10); tortilla (9); meat (9); vegetables (9); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); rice (8); cheese (8)
Shrug: spiciness (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Other than its merely decent level of spiciness, there was nothing about this terror of a burrito that wasn’t totally on-point, if not completely spectacular. We’re talking about some of the most delicious refried beans a burrito eater could ever hope to meet, as well as 100% hot bites and a construction aesthetic that, aside from a bit of harmless floppery, was all idiot-proof all the time. Massive slices of avocado and some champion-caliber salsa verde also laid our taste buds to waste, and let’s not overlook the robust cuts of sauced-up pork that seemed to pop up at all the right moments. Elsewhere, extended applause goes out to the wizards behind El Burrito Express’ counter, who found a way to include Spanish rice in our burrito without allowing it to stage a ruthless coup – it fit right in, real smooth-like. And the heartily grilled tortilla kept things nice and toasty all dinner long. It all made for a fine, fine foiled food, and one that fell just a few whiskers short of our fabled nine-mustache patheon.

10/27/06Super Bronco Carnitas Pork$5.658.50 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (10); temperature (10); beans (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); vegetables (8); sauciness (8); spiciness (8); ingredient mix (8); burstage abatement (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Very little to grouse about here. Matter of fact, other than the inconsequentially grilled tortilla and overabundance of meat, our panel’s complaints re: this burrito’s qualifications were minimal. It looked like any super burrito ought to look in its big red burrito basket. Its temperature was potentially hand-scalding. It delivered no bum bites. Perhaps most excitingly, its closing glob of melted jack, mixed as it was with wonderfully lumpy refried beans, was as forceful a parting statement as we’ve tasted from any taqueria lately. The ingredient mix was well-conceived, other than the tender and delicious braised pork’s tendency to dominate a few too many bites. Sliced avocado lent a tastily helping hand at every turn, while all that pork spouted off enough grease to cause us to reach for an extra napkin or three, but hey. We forgave the gaping hind-end cleave discovered late-slab...although it contributed to a two-mustache burstage abatement rating slip, so perhaps we didn’t really forgive it after all? Ah well. Great burrito just the same.

09/07/06Super Bronco Grilled Steak$5.658.67 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (10); temperature (10); size (9); tortilla (9); meat (9); vegetables (9); sauciness (9); burstage abatement (9); rice (8)
Shrug: beans (7); ingredient mix (7); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

It could have done with some more spice-fire, and you can pin the blame for the exclusion of refried beans on our boneheaded judges. But that’s pretty much the extent of this slab’s shortcomings. Things were so on point here, even the whole pinto beans didn’t rankle our placard-wielding panel of idiots. Sheathed in a marvelously grilled tortilla, and loaded with a bunch of juicy steak seemingly lifted straight from the smokehouse, this supreme effort made wise use of sliced avocado, fine rice, and more melted cheese than what you’d find in a burned-down Wisconsin farmhouse. The ingredient mix was good, but not great – as excellent as all the grilled steak was, it did tend to dominate the scene at times. Intangible credibility damn near blew a hole in El Burrito Express' roof, and we always appreciate a perfect run of hot bites. Hooray for burritos made this way.

05/09/06Super Bronco Chicken$5.258.83 Mustaches
We’ve become partial to the Super Bronco option here at the Burrito Train, and it’s certainly got nothing to do with Ol’ Horseface himself, John Elway. We respectfully ask for refried bean / rice enhancement (whole beans and no rice are Bronco defaults), and once constructed and presented, we allow its avocado-laced innards to work its ambrosial magic on our mustache scoresheet. It’s an entertaining routine, particularly when the tortilla is this flawlessly grilled, the cheese is this melted and pervasive, and every bite is as hot as these all were. Other high points along this burrito’s ridge of peaks included exceptional sauciness, a cavalcade of full-on bitchin’ refried beans, and - other than a little separation anxiety shared by the tortilla and foil at the hind end - reliably foolproof burstage abatement. The sharp, onion-infused pico de gallo and plentiful avocado also earned tall plaudits. The fairly ordinary chicken could have packed greater walloping power, but the omnipresent sauciness helped keep it respectable. And were it not for some bunchiness down low with the spice distribution, this would have been an ingredient mix for the ages, and probably another nine-mustache feather in El Burrito Express’ antique bonnet-and-facemask set.
04/29/05Super Chile Colorado Beef$5.258.00 Mustaches
A quick return trip to The Burrito Express was in order, given the strong whiffs of overachievement that permeated our visit several weeks earlier. Our hunch proved right, for while this one was still a formidably fashioned foodpiece, it wasn’t nearly in the same league as its vaunted predecessor. The only change we made to our order was the slab’s focal point - chile colorado beef this time, rather than chile verde pork – and a slight upturn in meat quality was noted. But more than anywhere else, this burrito’s overall rating took it in the shorts in the vegetable and spiciness categories: some well-disguised guacamole amidst the notable absence of pico de gallo and, shockingly, chopped onion was all this one had to offer on the veggie slant, while only the vaguest hint of spice reared up despite the inclusion of numerous flecks of ground red pepper. On the plus side of the ledger, ten-mustache ratings were pulled down for the burrito’s delectable sauciness and cavalcade of all-hot bites, while the awesome grilled tortilla, piecey and tender beef, abundance of melted cheese, and solid construction were all rated to the nines. So we still heartily recommend this location, although it’s not the world-beater it purported itself to be right off the bat.
03/15/05Super Chile Verde Pork$5.259.00 Mustaches
More proof that titanically delicious burritos aren’t bound by Potrero on the east and Guerrero on the west. The rundown on El Burrito Express’ Tuesday night blind-siding: manhandling girth, daunting length; a completely perfect tortilla, grilled just to the point of flakiness; quite fine and moist pork, albeit nothing to run screaming through the night about; Spanish brown rice that held one side of the fort, and pasty ’n’ tasty refried beans that anchored the other; melted yellow cheddar at every glance along the tortilla’s interior wall; spice that was more than respectable, with wall-to-wall sauciness that left not a dry bite in the house; and a spot-on mix that brought the best out of each ingredient, from the first hot bite to the last hot bite (all hot bites!). On the other tack, and so forgivable that they almost don’t merit a mention were a very minor grease soak-through and a vegetable assortment that didn’t much blow our mind. But this burrito was so on it in every perceptible way that we barely noticed the possibly missing pico de gallo. Nothing truly clanged, nothing at all. A beautiful thing. Who knew?