Sunday, February 27, 2011

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter 8:Conclusion:

Whether you are a first time reader or a long time follower in hope of updates, you'll notice by reading the title of this chapter that this is the final installment of :The:Mission:Taco: "Pero, porque?" One reason: closure.

From the beginning, my mission was simple: to review every taco in the Mission. But I wouldn't settle for just any type of taco--I am a picky mother fucker. There was only one taco I was interested in: the authentic Mexican carne asada taco topped with cilantro, cebolla, and salsa roja on two soft-shelled corn tortillas. Looks, origin, price--these things didn't and still do not concern me. I was simply for the taco AND that is all. But as I tasted taco after taco, the scope of my Mission widened: in addition to trying EVERY taco in the Mission, I wanted to find the BEST taco in the Mission. The pursuit for taco perfection ensued.

Five taquerias in, I came upon Taqueria El Tonayense and this was it: I had fell in love with what was my idea of ideal. It had all the things I was looking for in a taco: soft yet crispy tortillas, carne asada with just enough grease, and a complex salsa that was somehow simultaneously sour, spicy, smoky, sweet, and salty. Tonayense kept me coming back for more each night. I'm talking multiple tacorgasms here. 

But I wasn't finished with my mission--I still had plenty of tacos to try. And I did. I have eaten at dozens of taquerias in the Mish since El Tonayense: La Oaxaquena, La Cumbre, El Farolito's, La Taqueria, El Toro, La Corneta, El Castillito, El Metate, and virtually every other femine or masculine article+noun that you can come up with in Spanish. They all seemed either to offer nothing, or had just one thing to offer: some had legit salsas, others had scrumptious carne, whilst others had managed to master only the tortillas (WTF, right?). Though my quest for the perfect taco continued, I grew uninspired in documenting the dull experiences, for none of them had the fire of El Tonayense. Had I found a better taco than Tonayense in the Mission, trust me lovers of the Mexican taco, I would share.

Now, here comes the real conundrum. Just a couple of weeks ago on my way to work, I made my ritual pitstop to Grand CoffeeI sat down on the stool inside as Nabeel, my bearded Palestinian brotha-from-anotha-motha, served me up my daily dose of a cracked-out-cup-o-cappccuino (beans from Four Barrel). 

Ya'Allah habibi!
The Dude serves up the best cappuccinos in the bay, completely pretense-free. He had been raving about another hub of taquerias outside of The Mission for months, and today was the day he finally would introduce me. Skeptical I was, yet open-minded was I.

Why, yes, yes have I.
I'm not going to delve into too many specific details about the taco per se, but that day I found a taco that was incredibly and stupendously fantacotastic. Every component was amazing--right down to their cilantro chiffonade. You know a taqueria is putting some TLC into their tacos if they chiffonade their cilantro, which is a culinary feat in and of itself

When was the last time you saw a cilantro chiffonade?
But there was more to this taco than what appeared as perfection. It struck another note with me--it resonated on a whole other level: culinary nostalgia. This taco reminded me of Taqueria De Andahome of "The Mexican Taco." Perhaps it was the perfectly minced and marinated carne that wet my mouth at the mere thought, or maybe it was the cumin-infused salsa that kept me cummin' for more--I'm not entirely sure. One thing is certain: this taco was the best damn taco I personally have ever eaten.

My taco journey has taught me that one must tread lightly in the search for perfection. The act of constant comparison to the superlative may uncontrollably result in the exaggeration of negatives over positives in experience. Some tacos are better than others, some worse than others; but if one is going to constantly compare every taco to the best, this may result in highlighting the bad over the good in the moment. Just as you'd use salt and lime sparingly on a taco, it's important to use similar amounts of comparison. In the same vein, the best macaron I've ever had was in Paris, but does that mean I should constantly think of it while I'm eating macarons in San Francisco? This lesson can be extended beyond gastronomy into various aspects of life... like hipster girls with mustaches

Another interesting point to raise is the power of nostalgia. My latest taco experience has managed to trump Tonayense in every aspect. Granted it wasn't located in The Mission, but that's not the important thing. I thought I had the perfectaco at Tonayense, but my latest taco had managed to overshadow it via the power of emotion. Nothing can knock nostalgia--not even if your carne comes from Japanese cows that feed on the greenest grass and get shit-hammered on Pliney The Elder all day while given Swedish massages. "But Taco Guru, must not one engage in the act of comparison when nostalgic?" you ask? Yes--and that's exactly why nostalgia is so powerful. You can't help but compare--you're powerless to its power. Woweekazowee that's some shit right there, eh?

"Egads Taco Guru--enough of this Rhetoric. There's actually another reason I'm updating/closing :The:Mission:Taco:. Lauren Davis, San Francisco-based writer, editor, and blogger, had the rad idea to create The Comic Book Guide to the Mission. She found my blog and approached me to see if I'd be willing to submit an anecdote on my taco adventures--how could I turn that down? Welp, it's finally released, and I figured now would be the appropriate time to update/close. Behold the Taco Guru, full-on comic status below! Special thanks to Greg Hinkle for illustrating "The Mission Taco" as well as for giving me the perms to post his art on this blog. 

You can purchase a copy of The Comic Guide Book to The Mission by mailing, clicking the Buy Now link here, or by visiting your local San Francisco comic book store. There's a release party Friday, March 11th @ 7pm over at Mission: Comics & Art--come swing by! 

Though this is my last post, fellow taco lovers, this is certainly not goodbye. There are still a couple taquerias I have yet to try and new ones constantly popping up; if any are noteworthy, I will Mos Def update the comments section of this posting. In the meantime, stick to the list below and you won't go wrong.

Top 7 Taquerias en La Mission:
4. La Espiga Del Oro (not reviewed; but meat quality is good; salsa similar to That's It Market)
5. That's It Market
6. El Tepa Taqueria (not reviewed; pretty good meat quality; make sure to order sans frijoles)
7. Taqueria Cancun (not reviewed; it's like an asi-asi-and-a-half all-in-all)

Thanks for reading, and keep eating tacos!

-The Taco Guru

Sunday, April 26, 2009

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter 7:That's It Market:

Okay, okay, okay--I know. It's been a while. It's been far too long. I get it--okay? No excuses. No excuses at all.

So here's the reason why I haven't been updating: I lost my iPhone, so I couldn't take pictures of my tacos. Please don't give me the "oh you could've used your digital camera instead" rebuttal. That's absurd. I've recently procured another iPhone and now I'm ready to go. 

But f'real, I've honestly become absolutely uninspired. I've found what I think is true taco perfection at Tonayense, and I find it so damn difficult to venture outside of my tacomfort zone. Why would I spend my hard-earned dollars on terrible tacos, then go write a lengthy excerpt in my taco blog about how shitty the tacos I ate were? Am I losing site on the aim of :The:Mission:Taco:?

Well, who cares? I'm updating, and fellow Taconians, inspiration has struck in the following form:

Dzman dats alotta'sada!

At first glance, the untuned taco eye sees a fat pile shit. Fools. But to the taconnoisseurs out there, this is Love, In Itself. Sure, it might be a 'Lil Wayne excessive, but so what? All those girls who told me that size doesn't matter were clearly lying to me. 

And where can one find this gorilla of a taco? That's It Liquor on Mission and 23rd. That's right: "That's It." What's "it"? That's It! 

I know I typically don't talk about the atmosphere of my taco venue, but said taco venue is quite unique. The place itself is a proper liquor store, but as soon as you walk inside, to the right is a little Mexican/Mediterranean delicatessen. I suppose you could call it a Mexirraneatessen... or a Medicatessen? Ah fuck it--just know that you can buy a six-pack and a freshly made taco in the same venue. But don't go poppin' open your Tecate just yet, as they won't let you drink inside (probably some lame law). But what you can do is take your taco/beer and go eat/drink next door at Mission Bar (just be sure to buy beer at the bar, too).

Okay--so here's the taco down-low. Obviously there's a ton of carne asada, and thankfully there's quality that comes with it. Grissle-free, not chewy, slightly greasy carne asada goodness. The aforementioned adjectives clearly leads to a great flavor that comes well complemented by a nice, bold red sauce. It's got a slightly bitter, strong chili flavor to it--almost like a less-oilier and version of the epic red sauce at Vallarta. Though you can't see the corn tortillas, rest-assured, they were legit. Actually, they were so legit, I couldn't quit. Perfectly cooked--soft, warm, slightly crisped. You know the story. 

Now, before you get your panties all wet, I do have to give a disclaimer on this taco. So you see the lady next to the salt shaker in the above picture? Her name is Alicia--and she is my new tacomama. I was pretty much flirting with her in my broken Spanish: "Que pone en su salsa roja? Por cuantos anos estaba cocinada aqi? Me gusta mucho carne!" I must say, only the charm of the Taco Guru can get the taco ladies to put out so much carne like it's nobody's business. Don't expect your taco to have the grandeur of mine--I'm the Taco Pimp, bitch!

Now, don't worry: I will not let my head get in the way of my review. This taco is worthy of a respectable Que Bueno! :P Consider this taco damn good, and do give That's It a visit if you're out in the Mish bars and got that taco craving. Also, an interesting tidbit: Alicia told me that this place is going to be on the Travel Channel in August. When I heard that, I was like, "No f'ing way" in my head, but it does make a lot of sense. I asked her what he ate, and apparently he had the Torta Cubana. 

Shoulda' had the Taco, Tony. Maybe next time.

-The Taco Guru

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter 6:El Tonayense:

Every so often, life presents to you a joyous moment that is just so monumental, so epic, that you'll never forget it, EVER. Just reflect: maybe it was the first time you rode your bike without the assistance of your parents, or the first time you mustered up enough courage to actually go off the high dive during swimming lessons. Perhaps it was when you hit your first home run or scored your first goal. It might be your first crush, your first kiss, or your first love. Whatever memory comes to mind, think of the joy you felt at that precise moment. More than think about it, visualize it. Feel it. Imbibe it and be drunk with it. A heroin-like high. Sex on E. Now, take this feeling, multiply it by 2080, and you will have the feeling I felt after eating a carne asada taco at Taqueria El Tonayense. Fuck. Yes.

To write about this taco would be doing an injustice to El Tonayense, for the taco chefs at this top-notch taco establishment have produced a carne asada taco so grand in nature and so exquisite in flavor that neither words nor pictures can come remotely close to describing it. I can't even begin to sort my thoughts--I'm flooded with feelings, mixed with memories, erratic with emotions. But I will proceed with my feeble attempt to recount my experience, my love for the carne asada taco at Taqueria El Tonayense. I have no choice; :The:Mission:Taco: requires it.

For those skeptics and pessimists out there who don't believe in love at first sight, behold:


Now we all know I'm not particular to presentation. Looks are meaningless--"it's all about what's on the inside." But God DAMN this taco is sexy! The sultry reds of the salsa roja... the greens of the slender yet juicy pickled chiles... and those pearly white radishes just glistening, radiating on the plate. This taco has got the sex appeal of Sophia Loren in her prime, Angelina Jolie on any given day, and the finest Persian broad you know wrapped into one.
But I give you no points for good looks, Tonayense. It is your inner beauty which truly makes you shine.

One bite--that's all it takes. Take one bite of the carne asada taco: you're a little confused--the tortillas are flavor-full-of-corn, warmed to a perfection so that they're simultaneously soft and crispy. You are puzzled by the salsa roja. Is it sweet? Is it spicy? Is it smoky? The carne asada--a riddle wrapped in an enigma: it tastes like it's been pumped with flavorlicious fat, yet, paradoxically enough, there's no fat to be seen, not grease to be had. You are shocked. You are perplexed. You know you like it, you know it feels good. You have to keep going.

You take the second bite. Then, all of a sudden, nothing else matters. Blood starts flowing faster--you're salivating incessantly, heart beating faster, harder. Time and space are frozen and there's only you, a two-thirds eaten taco, and the music pounding out of the 21st century digital jukebox in the back of the room, except now instead of La Puerta Negra, it's playing Comptine D'un Autre Ete . The world could be ending outside the taqueria's doors but you wouldn't even care because you are so entrenched in the moment, so involved in the carnal consumption of the carne asada taco. You're now in a numb, zen-like state of pure harmony and bliss. The Dalai Lama ain't got shit on you.

Be nice, Tenzin.

You finish the taco off. You have to. You want to. You can't not. It's just too good. One last bite. Your lips are quivering. And then... it's over. You just had a tacorgasm.

The first time I had Tonayense's carne asada taco, I couldn't believe what I had experienced. I was in taco heaven. But was it just a dream? A fluke? An Imbruglian one-hit-wonder of some sorts? The only way to know for sure was to test it for consistency. I have redezvoused with Tonayense at least five times since my first soiree, and each time it's been just as good. Trust me: this is one taco you'll never get sick of eating out.

It must be restated: words do not do this taco justice. How dare I even attempt to review such a holy work of art. With the risk of insulting the taco Gods, I must continue with :The:Mission:Taco:--as there is just one piece left for this chapter in my endeavor. The rating. Well, if you haven't guessed already, the carne asada taco at Taqueria El Tonayense will have you screaming OH DIOS MIOS! ^_^ alllll night long! RAWR!

-The Taco Guru

Thursday, October 16, 2008

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter:5:Belmar "La Gallinita" Meat Market:

Dear Taco Lovers,

I must apologize for my brief blogging stint. I know its been a little while, but let me explain:

For the last month or so, I was fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. During this month, one is supposed to abstain from eating and drinking while the sun is up. I've been doing this since I was 8, and it's really not as difficult as it sounds.

In an attempt to really test my willpower, I created my own list of things that I enjoy on an almost daily basis which I would attempt to entirely refrain from during the month:
  • tacos
  • smoking
  • sex
  • drugs (alcohol)
  • Phil'z coffee
I lasted 2 days before I had a taco, and 5 days until I succumbed to forces of the others. So much for that.

What I did manage to do, however, was keep up with my actual fasting. In order to stay true to :The:Mission:Taco:, it was also necessary for me to stop reviewing tacos. You see, when you haven't eaten shit all day, the first thing that enters your mouth is by default outstandingly orgasmic. To then write a review of these automatically awesome, undeniably ¡Oh Dios Mios! tacos would be a falsity not only to :The:Mission:, but to myself and my readers as well.

With my stomach and taste buds back to regular taco schedule, I'm ready to tell you a bit about the taco stand at Belmar "La Gallinita" Meat Market (

Firstly, I must say that my expectations for this place were high. The taco stand is only open on the weekends, and is literally in the corner of a freaking carniceria. I'm pretty sure the meat can't get much fresher than that lest you have a farm of cows on 24th. The carne asada should be TOP quality--flavor wise and texture wise. La Gallinita just didn't cut it on this front.

Maybe it was because taco man was having an off day:

Sad taco man is sad T.T

But c'mon, give them tacos some love! It was quite peculiar--the carne asada tasted like someone literally tossed pepper on top of it. The quality of the meat was probably above average, but it was as if I sprinkled it with a pepper packet instead of a salt packet.

The corn tortillas: nothing to rave about, nothing to complain about. They were just average, and did the trick.

Two notable things: 1) You can construct the rest of your taco (onions, cilantro, and choice of salsa [don't you dare choose another color but red!]), and 2) the salsa roja is remarkably spicy and delicious. It's probably one of the spiciest salsa rojas I've ever had in life. Just take a look at the picture below and you can see the actual seeds from the red peppers sprinkled throughout:

No, this is not where "rooster sauce" comes from.

But with the exception of the red sauce, this taco just doesn't say much. Maybe I'll come back another day when taco man isn't so blue, but for now, I consider these tacos asi asi :|

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter 4:Taqueria Vallarta:

Dude, where's my taco?
Taqueria Vallarta!
Mmm biddy biddy num nums!

The above is an almost perfect taku* for an almost perfect taco. I really, really, REALLY wanted to give Taqueria Vallarta ( a rating of ¡Oh Dios Mios! ^_^, but I couldn't... I just couldn't.

It makes me wonder: can a taco so close to perfection, so damn delicious, really be topped? Is there even such a thing as a perfect taco? I don't know. I just... don't... know!!!#@%@#$^

Okay--so what exactly is it that makes Taqueria Vallarta's (tacos so tasty? Is it the pool of greasy goodness that the carne asada swim in? Or is it the taco man's mad taco skillz? Perhaps it's both. But I've done some extensive specimen analysis and self-observational studies and have come to the conclusion that Taqueria Vallarta tacos contain traceable amounts of methylbenzoylecgonine, otherwise known as crack. One should proceed with extreme caution when consuming these tacos, because along with being highly addictive, these tacos are cheap--only $1.50 a hit! The tacos also come from a taco stand placed near the front of the taqueria, thus allowing you to quickly and conveniently pay the dealer then proceed to your fix.

Crack corner.

Okay--but seriously--these tacos are legit. Firstly, the meat is quality--just take a couple bites and you'll taste the difference. Along with great quality comes great flavor, and Vallarta fully fills their carne asada with TONS of it. The crack marinade coupled with the grease bath creates a taste to the tongue unparalleled to any taco I've come upon in The Mission thus far. You could almost eat the taco sans salsa roja--but I wouldn't recommend it, for the salsa roja here is unreal.

Perhaps the pinnacle of perfection.

There's something very unique with what they do to the red sauce. It has this kind of smokey flavor that goes really well with the meat. Try it with just a chip and you'll see what I'm talking about. Please note that on the taco stand, there are three kinds of salsas: the orange one blows; the dark red one should go on the carne asada taco (obvi!); and if you are in the mood to try a pollo asada taco, the green one goes well with it. Also, you can top your taco with as much onion and cilantro as you want. Can't go wrong with that. And don't forget to grab some of the grilled onions. When the tacoman asks, "
¿Sea-boy-ah?", you say "Sea!" The grilled onions, along with the radishes, are a damn good addition to the taco. Just try it: take a bite of taco, then immediately take a bite of radish wrapped with the grilled onion--it's biddy biddy num nums!

So if the meat and the salsa roja are so super sabrosa, why did this taco not receive an
¡Oh Dios Mios! ^_^? They FUCKED up the tortillas! God dammit! Vallarta excels in all the difficult areas of taco construction, but they eff up on what I think is the easiest part to master: corn tortillas! It really is a bummer, because like I said, the tacos are almost perfect. Basically, the corn tortillas lack that burst of corn flavor, and the tortillas weren't grilled long enough. The result was that the juice from the carne asada dampens the tortilla and makes for a kind of soft texture. This is a no-no.

But, despite the corn tortilla mishap, the tacos still tasted amazing. Taqueria Vallarta tacos are ¡Que Bueno! :P -- I would come back here in a heartbeat. In fact ::itches tongue erratically:: I needz meh some tacos orita, way!!!

-The Taco Guru

*a taku, pronounced \ˈ-(ˌ)\, is a haiku tailored towards tacos.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter 3:Chavitas Mexican Restaurant 2:

Before I get into the review for Chavitas Mexican Restaurant 2, I think readers of :The:Mission:Taco: should know just why I consider myself "The Taco Guru." Why is my taste for tacos so keen? How are my taste buds any more credible than some other taco fanboy? Well, fellow taco aficionados, I divulge:

I grew up in the "SOCO" area of Fullerton, CA. This means nothing to 99.9995% of America--but for the .0005% who have some inkling of what I'm talking about, know that I use this term not in reference to the "hip," eclectic mix of cholos, brozillas, and AZNs at the downtown bar scene (which is ironically placed NOCO), but rather for the term's literal meaning: "South of Commonwealth." Many areas south of Commonwealth Ave. are pre-dominantly Mexican inhabited--and my neighborhood was no exception. My next-door-neighbor/childhood friend was Mexican, and his family had biweekly fiestas that I totally crashed. I have many fond memories of stuffing myself sick and silly with tacos while pwning it up in GoldenEye multiplayer. You see, from a very early age, I developed a taste for the more authentic Mexican flavors. Tacos, tamales, birria, pasole, mole--all of these dishes have memories in my mind and places on my palate.

The other main reason why I consider myself "The Taco Guru" is because my tongue has mastered the art of consuming food with various spices and spiciness levels. Both of my parents are Indian, but they also were both raised in Burma. I thus grew up with some of the best and spiciest Indian and Burmese food EVAR. For those who don't know what Burmese food is like, know this one thing: Burma is bordered by India, China, and Thailand. Holy. Shit. It's just a melting pot of some of the best and spiciest cuisines combined into one.

A small aside: If you would like some excellent and authentic Burmese food, try Burma Superstar in The Richmond. It straight up tastes like mommy cooked it. I suppose a 4 star average with 1258 reviews on yelp doesn't hurt, either ( I recommend the cat-fish chowder soup (moh-hin-ga), the chicken noodle soup (oh-no-kauswer), and the tea-leaf salad (la-peh).

Okay--enough about me. Time for tacos. Chavitas is one of those restaurants on 24th that you could pass by and never notice. In fact, there are only two reviews for it on Yelp ( It was for this reason that I had to check it out:

Chavitas2 Mexican Restaurant

I was pretty hungry, so I ordered a 2-item combination that came with beans and rice. I ordered a taco regular and a chicken enchilada:

What a cute attempt at a side salad.

If you order the taco a-la-carte, it's $3.50. A word of precaution: I used my broken Spanish to ask what is contained in a taco regular, and I think the lady said there were beans. This is obviously a big no-no, so I made sure she made my taco correctly.

Here's the thing about the taco: when eating each component individually to test for quality, everything was just whatever. The salsa roja definitely packed some heat, but the flavor just didn't pop out at me. The carne asada was also pretty plain; though the quality was good, it just wasn't marinated properly. The corn tortilla (which was single-layered) was also just so-so. But then, somehow, when I took my first bite of the actual taco itself, everything just worked. It wasn't fantastic, but it definitely wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. The taco was simply Asi Asi :| I could come back here again for the taco; but I'm betting that some of their other stuff would be really tasty and worth trying because my enchilada was freakin' fantastic.

-The Taco Guru

Saturday, August 23, 2008

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter 2:Taqueria El Taco Loco:

After a suffocating visit to the SFMOMA today (Frida Kahlo Exhibit+Weekend=Tourist Disaster), my European friends visiting from Southern California were hungry for some cheap Mexican eats. Rather than taking them to get the usual super quesadilla suiza from Farolito's on Mission and 24th, which they had already tried from a previous visit (if you really want to impress someone with something out-of-this-world and cheap, try the super quesadilla pollo asada from El Farolito's--insane), they were willing to try something new--which was perfect since I could do a review. We thus went to Taqueria El Taco Loco ( I had been here once before perhaps maybe a month ago, and from what I remembered, the taco was pretty good; however, I pushed my former experiences out of my mind; I want to eliminate bias in my reviews as much as possible--it's all about the taco.

A nice example of a good salsa roja:carne asada:cilantro:cebolla ratio

So, at first bite, this taco was quite tasty. First thing I notice when I grip the taco: the corn tortillas are perfect. The temperature was not too hot to the point where I couldn't hold the taco without burning my hand, and the consistency was firm--you could tell they took the time to grill this to perfection on the burner. But most importantly, the double-layered morsels of goodness had a taste that was neither too strong nor too weak--just perfect, subtle hints of corn that hit the roof the mouth with the first bite.

The red sauce was quite tasty as well. Great consistency. Maybe it could have been a bit spicier, but all-in-all quite good.

Now, when taking the second bite, I really tried to hone in on the flavor of the meat. I was trying to isolate the flavor, and I got some, but it wasn't much. I then tried the meat by itself, and it just wasn't screaming as loud as I would have liked it to. It wasn't flavorless, and it wasn't flavorful--it simply had some flavor, and that's it. It was then when I realized why the first bite was so good, but the second bite was just merely okay: the meat was decent, but really the taco's flavor was coming from the double-layered corn tortillas and salsa roja that was holding it together.

For the reasons above, I thus rate these tacos as Asi, asi :| -- these tacos are okay, and I could come here again, but there are certainly betters.

Now, earlier I mentioned that I had been to this taqueria once before and remember it as being good, but that I would attempt to erase this memory from my mind when eating and reviewing the taco today. The mere fact that I know this taco has potential because of my prior experience shows that a taco's taste may vary at different visits depending on different factors: did they cook the meat beforehand and simply re-grill it? or are they grilling the meat fresh? is it a good or bad batch of meat?

The only way to truly know a taco's quality is to go to the taqueria at different times and at different days to test for consistency. This is of course the ideal way to review a taqueria, but it is dangerous as it may make one grow tired of tacos--and this is something I'm not willing to do. But what I will do is try my best to see how they are cooking the meat, and mention what time I went to the taqueria. With that said, they re-grilled the meat at approximately 3:50pm today. This may account for why the meat was not as flavorful as it could have been.

-The Taco Guru

Thursday, August 14, 2008

:The:Mission:Taco:Chapter 1:Taqueria San Francisco:

For my first review, I wanted to visit a taqueria that I had never visited before. I thus took a stroll down 24th towards Portrero, thinking that I'd pass at least a couple places I'd never been to. Oddly enough, I ended up at Taqueria San Francisco, located at 2794 24th St.--basically a couple streets just before Portrero:

Nice sign. My 4-year-old nephew made it.

The place was pretty empty, and it was 7ish--this was the first sign that this taq might not be the place to be when in need for a mex fix. But I then thought that I may have stumbled upon a holy taco paradise. So I thought.

I entered. I looked to the left--standard taqueria billboard-menu . Two classes of tacos--regular and super. I asked what was in the "taco regular" (which was $2.25). "Onion, cilantro, hot sauce." "Salsa Roja?" I ask. "Yes." "Two please."

All pictures will be taken via iPhone

So it looks pretty decent--yes? Well we all know that "looks can be deceiving," and tacos are no exception to this saying.

Firstly, notice the puddle of aqua roja in between the tacos. It should not be this consistency. Now, I would be more forgiving if somehow this liquid was tasty, but it really just wasn't.

Even more of a crime than the salsa roja was the carne asada. Simply bland. The carne asada is the integral part of a taco, and they flavored it with a dash too much of nothing. Even salt and lime couldn't save this taco because salt and lime is used to enhance the flavor of the carne asada, but there was no flavor to enhance.

The only decent thing about the tacos were the corn tortillas. It's not even that they were extraordinarly flavorful; they were just well-warmed and had a good consistency. Though this may seem trivial, barely warm, soggy tortillas kind of blow. It's always nice when the tortillas are done right.

Time for the judicial system: how will I rate my tacos? Rather than coming up with a formula based on rating individual components of the taco to give you an arbitrary number rating like 3.14159254/5, I have devised a very simple method of rating:
  1. No Bueno >:| This taco tastes like pig poop--never coming here again.
  2. Asi Asi :| This taco was okay. Would come here again, but there are certainly better ones out there.
  3. Que Bueno! :P This taco is really good. Would definitely come back here in a second.
  4. ODM (Oh Dios Mios!) ^_^ OMG! This taco is indubitably impeccably perfect!
With that said, the verdict is: The tacos at Taqueria San Francisco are No Bueno >:| I would not come back here again.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


:The:Mission:Taco: aims to provide my opinions and critique of EVERY single taco in the Mission. Whether it's from a sit-down restaurant, a taco truck, or a taqueria, as long as the taco is created in The Mission district of San Francisco, I plan to review it.

Now, San Francisco district borders oftentimes blend with each other, leaving the uncertainty of exactly where one ends and where the other begins. Where does The Mission become SOMA? And exactly where does The Castro become The Mission? According to Yelp, The Mission is nested in between Dolores St. on the west and Portrero Ave. on the east. From the south, The Mission starts at Cesar Chavez/Army St and extends north all the way until 101/Market St. I will use this geographic definition of The Mission when choosing my taco locale.

Mission St. houses countless tacos just waiting to be unearthed.

There are of course numerous toppings and "extras" that may go onto a taco--avocado, sour cream, and cheese are the main ones that come to mind. In my opinion, these take away from the true taste, the very essence of what the taco is all about. Just as a naturally beautiful woman needs no foundation or mascara, the taco needs no additions. The avocado/guacamole, the cheese, even the beans in some cases--do not be fooled--these merely act as concealer. A true beauty has nothing to hide--appreciate the naturale.

I don't want a high maintenance Gucci taco. I'm interested in a very simple, pure carne asada taco. The taco I review must only contain the following ingredients:
  1. Carne Asada
  2. Corn Tortilla - (may be single or double-layered)
  3. Cilantro
  4. Onion
  5. Salsa Roja (Red Sauce)
  6. Light sprinkle of lime/salt to enhance the carne asada
That's it. The no-frills carne asada taco. There are of course various other choices of meats--if you're interested in them, this is the wrong place for you.

A mighty feat this may be, to review every carne asada taco in The Mission. Some might call me crazy. Some might call this mission impossible. But my goal is to review every taco. My eyes are set on the prize. This is it. This is :The:Mission:Taco: