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Faro, El MissionOMR: 7.75
2399 Folsom
cross street: 20th St.
ph. 415/647-3716
Map Visits: 6
We’ve had it on real good authority for quite some time that El Faro’s original proprietor, Febronio Ontiveros, commissioned construction of the first super burrito on Tuesday, September 26, 1961, and we all know where the man’s visionary concoction led us. El Faro’s crucial standing in local slab-circles is unassailable, and the venerated taqueria has the celebrity photos on its walls to prove it: Dianne Feinstein, Linda Ronstadt, Loni Anderson (!), Sheila E (!!), Will Clark, and someone by the rad name of Jose Jose. And what would a legendary burrito shop be without a namesake racehorse? El Faro the Steed raced at Golden Gate Fields in 1983 — again, check the wall. There's even a decades-old mayoral proclamation issued by Feinstein on display near the cash register. Breakfast, assorted pastries available, and something called a “B.L.T. burrito” all available. Outdoor seating on the sidewalk, sometimes. Credit cards accepted.

Will My Health Be Violated?

07/13/12Super Carnitas$7.497.42 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); meat (8); beans (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: rice (7); ingredient mix (7); tortilla (6); cheese (6); vegetables (6); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

This fearsomely lengthy burrito may have had a number of things on its side, but it elicited too much shrugging to be taken seriously by our grizzled panel of slab-crit veterans. From the runny guacamole, blah tortilla, and merely semi-melted Jack/cheddar blend to all the slurping required to prevent juicy overspills -- to say nothing of its compromising level of intangible charm -- El Faro was not on its previously reliable game here. On the positive side of the ledger, there were plenty of spicy and flavorful moments, and even though the carnitas was unusually soft, it remained mighty tasty throughout. Our foiled meal's temperature / burstage abatement foundation was strong, and the refried beans were formidably good. But the overall mood? Not one of memorable impressiveness.

04/13/11Super Chile Verde Pork$7.498.08 Mustaches
Swish: size (9); cheese (9); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9); temperature (9); burstage abatement (9); beans (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: meat (7); rice (7); tortilla (6)
Clang: spiciness (5)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

This Mission stalwart again nosed its way over our eight-mustache bar, although in time-honored El Faro fashion, we can’t exactly be sure how. Maybe it was the irrefutable intangibility and all-melted cheese. Maybe it was the strong ingredient ensemble work. Maybe it was the fact that this burrito was longer than the director’s cut of Dances with Wolves. It sure wasn’t the featherweight spiciness or the super-sticky tortilla, and it probably wasn’t the overly heavy rice action. The facelessly effective pork was more thoroughly sauced than Dean Martin after a three-day Vegas bender with Ol’ Blue Eyes and Sammy Entertainment, Jr., and that was OK with us since it would have facelessly ineffective without it. Ingredient density was lacking, not unlike the conclusion of this review.

01/20/10Super Grilled Chicken Fajita$7.998.08 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); size (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); rice (8); beans (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); meat (7); cheese (7); sauciness (7); spiciness (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

Freakishly lengthy and weirdly slender, our latest slabular expedition at San Francisco’s Original Super Burrito Purveyor was technically proficient, if intangibly deficient. Temperature complaints were non-existent, and the ingredient mix was truly outstanding in the way it said to everything inside the shrug-worthy tortilla, Come on, let’s all get nekkid and play Twister. El Faro’s grilled chicken was delightfully tender, marvelously juicy, and strangely devoid of any sort of special flavor. The “fajita” element here was fine enough, but nothing to text home about. Generous jalapeño slices ratcheted up the spice at times...but only at times. And the refried beans were hellaciously pasty, forming a formidable formation with the equally eight-mustache Spanish rice. And all the while, a doe-eyed Linda Ronstadt looked down from a frame high on the wall, gazing upon our burrito, longingly.

10/27/07Super Breakfast (Ba./Ch./Ham)$5.998.33 Mustaches
Swish: cheese (10); temperature (10); meat (9); eggs (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); beans (8); sauciness (8); spiciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (6)
Clang: vegetables (4)
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Initial misgivings over this burrito’s steamed, chewy tortilla and floppy posture turned to heavily mustachioed delight by slab’s end. Success! Melted cheese galore (jack and cheddar), sky-high intangibility, and three kinds of tasty meats amidst a killer egg scramble will do that to even the grouchiest judges panel. The stellar ingredient mix and hot bites all over the place also contributed to our giant happyhead. El Faro’s rad refried beans could have used some sort of thickening agent, but they more than got by. Aside from the lackluster level of attention paid to the outer wrap, the only other flaw here was the woeful dearth of vegetables – if we hadn’t requested that small pile of (raw) chopped white onion and pinch of cilantro, we’d have looking at zero mustaches in the vegetables column of this burrito’s scoresheet, and we wouldn’t be nearly this stoked about our foiled brunch. More on that egg/meat steez: Bacon, ham, and chorizo teamed with a pair of eggs in a scramble that had us plumbing our Roget’s for synonyms for “full-on bitchin, stoopid fresh,” because really, isn’t that phrase a bit worn out by now? Sure it is.

08/02/05El Gigante al Pastor$7.997.00 Mustaches
Only a true dummy would judge a burrito on its ten-inch wingspan alone. We were taken in by El Faro’s saucy-looking al pastor through the counter glass, but it came up peculiarly dry and bereft of any defining taste. Other letdowns included zero completely hot bites, a chewy tortilla as pale as a northern Swede in February, and a load of rice that suggested, Hey, we’re closing soon. The lack of temperature heat was a genuine surprise considering this burrito’s laudable mix, but even though we arrived during their final hour of business for the evening, the thought of a McDLT shouldn’t have ever entered our mind on this (or any other) visit. With El Faro being the Home of the Original Super Burrito, however, some elements had to come up golden, and a few did: the pasty, bacon-hinted whole beans hit real hard, spice attacked from all angles via jalapeño and a generous double-dip of hot sauce, the veggie components did a lot right, and the whole thing was a neat and tidy eat. But we’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, and you can cue the sound of a fist banging on a tabletop for all we care: We want a hot burrito.
10/11/03Super Carne Asada$5.298.00 Mustaches
We watched in disbelieving wonder as guacamole and sour cream were applied to the tortilla before any other ingredients. The resulting wisdom of such madness? An incomparable ingredient mix and some absolutely perfect sauciness. These people continue to break new ground several decades into their career. Awesome.