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Faro, El South of MarketOMR: 8.48
82 1st St.
cross street: Mission
ph. 415/495-4426
Map Visits: 6
While the kitchen staff at this roomy (if desultory) El Faro can come off a bit grouchy at times, there's little arguing with this popular taqueria's invariable eight-mustache results. If you walk in only to discover you're not in the mood for Mexican food, but don't feel like going elsewhere, why not indulge in a ham sandwich or double hot dog? Also, ever notice that small patch of AstroTurf in the front window here? What’s that all about? Note that sometimes you can expect to receive as few as five (5) chips with your burrito — staggering generosity, to be sure, but at least the accompanying salsa rules major. On the plus side, the kitchen here sings a nice rendition of that old hit “Land of a Thousand Ground Beef Super Burritos,” and you don’t hear that one at San Francisco taquerias too much anymore. Request a foil wrap or be forced to go the inglorious knife-and-fork route. Breakfast available all damn day. Open super-early; closed evenings and weekends. Cash only.

Will My Health Be Violated?

04/05/13Yadavito$5.858.75 Mustaches
Swish: eggs (10); beans (10); spiciness (10); temperature (10); cheese (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); meat (8); vegetables (8)
Shrug: size (7); tortilla (7); sauciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

(Because we're silly completists, and because we were invited to try it, we went the novelty route again at El Faro, this time ordering a tri-pork omelette concoction known as the Yadavito.)

Unlike our first foray into El Faro's morning-burrito realm (scroll a mile or two down for our 2005 entry), this AM slab worked far in our favor. The Yadavito includes no less than three types of pork — ham! chorizo!! bacon!!! — yet as much as we expected to be waylaid by a cubic ton of meat meat meat, all this porktacularity was applied in smart doses by El Faro's crafty kitchen queens. And the omelette! So fluffy and nice — a flavorful pillow of eggs, alright. Perennial blasts of spice came courtesy of an appropriate amount of chile de árbol (the pivotal vegetable here), and the refried beans really were that rad. Also: hot bites! And like everything else so adroitly mixed here, the fully melted cheese provided ideal accompaniment. Other than overly slender dimensions and a blah tortilla, our main gripe was with all the slurping this burrito required — we come to the taqueria to bite, to chew, and to mull, never to slurp. Full-on ragin' two-mustache intangibility made everything OK, though.

10/18/12Feinburrito$8.808.17 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); cheese (9); spiciness (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); size (8); rice (8); beans (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: tortilla (7); meat (6); vegetables (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 1 (of 2)

(We went the novelty route this time at El Faro, ordering a chicken / chile relleno concoction known as the Feinburrito on the old taqueria's side menu.)

You may wonder how a burrito earning dodgy scores in the crucial areas of meat, vegetables, and intangibility managed to ring up eight-plus mustaches overall. Well, apparently math doesn't tell the whole story at times. Our panel groused plenty about certain elements of this drab slab — its faceless, cubed chicken; its off-tasting chile relleno; its striking lack of intangible charm — but there was no denying its strong foundation of hot bites and solid construction, nor its tempestuous spice and all that fully melted cheese. Sauciness would have rated more highly had grease not turned into a factor at one point, while the smooth ingredient mix would have earned ten hairy ones were it not for the fact that we never got chicken and the chile relleno in the same bite (not that we particularly enjoyed either one). Mexican rice? Refried beans? Each were enjoyable, sure. The burrito itself? Precisely efficient most of the time; dead-boring all of the time.

03/16/11Super Chile Verde Pork$5.858.17 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); tortilla (9); cheese (9); sauciness (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); rice (8)
Shrug: meat (7); beans (7); vegetables (7); size (6); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Five (5) chips accompanied our wee-sized El Faro job on this mid March afternoon, and even though our panel’s notes included no shortage of complaints — zero pico de gallo, thinnish refried beans, vaguely dramatic spice, pork that tended toward the dry side, general floppiness — there were simply too many real good things occurring here to let these nettlesome shortcomings win the day. The remarkably well grilled tortilla cradled some mighty flavorful chile verde, and all the slices of chile relleno helped turn this into a full-on, ragin' chile-fest. Slab-wide hot temperatures ensured that the Jack/cheddar blend provided some nicely melted moments rather than lameness and only lameness; the rad ingredient mix also made it happen. This burrito was gone way too quickly.

12/15/09Super Ground Beef$5.858.58 Mustaches
Swish: tortilla (10); temperature (10); beans (9); spiciness (9); ingredient mix (9); burstage abatement (9); meat (8); rice (8); sauciness (8)
Shrug: size (7); cheese (7); vegetables (7)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

With booming spice, a tortilla so grilled that it was crispy in certain glorious spots, and an ingredient mix that wouldn’t quit, El Faro’s super ground beef burrito pretty much called all its own shots from the first bite onward. The ground beef wasn’t as spectacular as what we’ve enjoyed at nearby Caramba, but it nonetheless qualified for eight-mustache approval, as did its equally fine Spanish rice. We’re not sure where the guacamole disappeared to in our lunch — El Faro’s slender-bodied guac has never been on our short list of the finest things in life — but the full-on bitchin refried beans picked up the goopy slack. The Jack/cheddar blend could have been a little better melted...but it also could have been a hell of a lot worse melted, so we weren’t grieving. Larger-than-life jalapeño activity gave our panel a fun jolt here and there, and the only harm the few drips caused was a one-mustache demerit when our judges convened to pow-wow over the burstage abatement rating. If we could pick three hyphenated words to describe this intangibly rich burrito’s ingredient mix, they would be “of-a-piece.” Well, there you have it. Quality all around.

05/18/07Super Carnitas$5.858.08 Mustaches
Swish: temperature (10); cheese (9); burstage abatement (9); tortilla (8); meat (8); rice (8); beans (8); ingredient mix (8)
Shrug: size (7); vegetables (7); sauciness (7); spiciness (6)
Clang: no elements clanged
Intangibility bonus: 2 (of 2)

Those who pay close attention to their burrito during construction phase at this El Faro will likely reap the benefits of overseeing a custom-built slab. We sure did. We requested a grilled tortilla, and got it. We warned off lettuce, and didn’t get it. We asked for chooglin’ spice, and sort of got it. And fortunately, we pointed/grunted at the carnitas behind the counter, which despite its overly soft texture, had the surprising taste of a winning meat. Sizing was a wee bit compromised all around, barely noticeable to the untrained eye/belly. The all-melted jack/cheddar blend brought a deft touch, and helped distract us from El Faro’s continually disappointing, too-smooth “guacamole.” Sauciness was a major factor, and if not for that one required slurp around bite number 10 or 11, eight mustaches would have been a foregone conclusion. The brown rice and refried beans were justly graceful in their supporting roles, and the grilled tortilla, though not quite flaky, worked out pretty alright. We appreciated the suave ingredient mix, the clean sweep of hot bites, and the high marks for intangible credibility, but not the gentlemanly “street retailer” plucked straight off the set of Trouble Man who offered us a Rolex knock-off at one point.

03/31/05Super B'fast (Bacon/Chorizo)$5.857.42 Mustaches
It’s an all-or-nothing scenario when ordering El Faro’s super-floppy super breakfast burrito, which they’ll try to offer you unwrapped and doused in sauce on a Styrofoam plate. Either you just get it without meat, or it comes with a cavalcade of pork products that’ll probably be buried beneath a salvo of mighty beans and plenty of perfectly cooked eggs. What we found inside our slab’s tortilla (which, incidentally, required a good grilling it didn’t receive): approximately 80 acre-feet of spicy, but overly thin sauce that probably prompted some inquisitive looks when our incessant slurping reached a crescendo; a fair amount of extra-melted cheese on the tortilla interior; a few good-sized slices of jalapeño; a near-phenomenal little omelette, hampered only by some overly under-the-radar ham, chorizo, and bacon; and most egregiously, not one cottonpickin' vegetable. There was too much unused space inside this tortilla, and unbelievably, it was actually too temperature-hot at times. Zero vegetables? Come ahhhhn.