the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly Apparel Bazaar

Estrella Taq. Lower HaightOMR: 8.08
533 Haight
cross street: Fillmore
ph. 415/861-1455
Map Visits: 2
New ownership wrested this unassuming shopfront away from the misguided (and bearded) La Carreta regime in 2010; instant respectability ensued. In fact, our 2012 visit bore witness to a strong 8.25-mustache performance. Well, alright. Credit cards accepted. Breakfast available. Open real late on weekends.

Will My Health Be Violated?

03/18/12Su. Chicken In Spicy Red Sauce$7.708.25 Mustaches
Swish: sauciness (10); spiciness (10); temperature (10); cheese (9); burstage abatement (9); vegetables (8)
Shrug: size (7); meat (7); rice (7); beans (7); ingredient mix (7); tortilla (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

While the upsides definitely outnumbered the shortfalls on our second visit to Estrella Taq., don't go thinking this was some sort of flaw-free lunch. Just don't! We were instantly unimpressed with the supremely chewy tortilla, while the slightly runny refried beans also poured some pepper in our coffee (so to speak); the rice, meanwhile, was role-filling and space-taking in every possible seven-mustache way. The ingredient mix was capable, but it failed to incorporate the perfectly adequate poultry pieces as consistently as we would have liked. So how did this seemingly shrugariffic slab conjure up 8.25 hairy ones? With spot-on rojo sauce, burly spiciness, a cavalcade of hot bites, solid construction, and marvelously melted cheese in damn near every bite, that is how. Infallible intangible charm also bumped up the Overall Mustache Rating a taste. Maybe we were just feeling a little grumpy at the outset of this review.

06/30/10Super Carnitas$7.707.75 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); rice (8); beans (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); vegetables (7); ingredient mix (7); temperature (7); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Boasting a couple outstanding elements and no awful ones, Estrella Taq. made a safe debut on our Mustache Chart with this fairly sized and reliably constructed burrito. We could have done with some additional spice-kick — particularly in light of our usual “extra spicy, please” request — but really, that was our biggest complaint here. From the moist, lightly oily rice and surefire refried beans on through the pillows of melted cheese tucked along the tortilla’s interior walls, most everything was in working (if unspectacular) order. The carnitas sure tried hard and was suitably awarded eight mustaches for its salty, occasionally crispy efforts; the ingredient mix did OK, but could have put a better foot forward. Late moments of minor burstage down low and lagging intangibility meant a cut in the Overall Mustache Rating, and the cool “counterpoint” offered by the guacamole wasn’t amusing any of our panelists. Still, capability persevered and carried through.