I don’t know if any of you recall my rant (now a few months past) about how taco salads are far superior to that lowly log, the burrito. I haven’t recanted, but I can say with certainty that I’m gradually warming to the burrito.
With Hook in Tahoe all weekend, my schedule was free & clear. How did I choose to fill it? With friendship times, multiple thrifting trips, and high-sodium foods, of course! Saturday, I met Gail in the Mission for “Burritos & Thrift,” soon to become a monthly tradition (or every other month, if it happens that way). I’d been craving a burrito for a few days, some thrift action for a few weeks, and a rainy afternoon lay open, obligationless. Gail agreed that my planned course of events sounded awesome. We were off.
My experience in the Mission is pretty much limited to Zeitgeist, Kilowatt, Gestalt, and some brunch places; this paucity of knowledge, coupled with my previous burrito aversion, left me stranded when it came time to name a lunch joint. Enter Yelp (and the opinion of A.Hook). After ten minutes of “research,” I decided that El Farolito would be our lunch destination. Near Mission and 24th, the taqueria would take us past some prime shopping locales — Goodwill and Thrift Town — and some churro vendors, as well. (Note: SPOILER ALERT: we didn’t get churros. Sadly.)
El Farolito isn’t a restaurant I’d wander without prior knowledge of its reputation, to put it kindly. Narrow as a Chicago apartment, the dining room is dim, greasy-aired, and crammed with plastic booths that look like they’ve been lifted straight from a Chuck-E-Cheeze. The menu offers typical “American-friendly” options (like chicken burritos!), as well as less-common proteins like tripe and brain. Typical as I am, I went for a super burrito with grilled chicken and no avocado. I was expecting to be pleased with the meal — that’s the Pollyanna in me! — but oh, man: even my raised expectations were blown away.
Let’s start with the tortilla, which was warm, fresh, and oh-so-chewy. This thing was roughly the size of a parachute* and I ripped off small pieces of it, dipping the pieces in salsa or using them to scoop out the fillings of the super burrito (“Super Burrito”). The beans (refried) were suitably creamy — made with lard, I’m guessing — and the rest of the fillings (rice, chicken, sour cream, cheese, red salsa) were fresh and gut-bustingly good. What impressed me most about the burrito was its scope. Aw, who am I kidding, trying to gussy up my description with fancified language? The burrito was HUGE. Roughly the size of a football, the thing probably weighed five pounds. I ate almost precisely 1/3 of it and was full long past my normal dinnertime.
That, and it was cheap — $8.00 got me the Super Burrito, a side of chips, and a can of soda. Not bad, given this town’s prices. Not bad, really, for any city.
El Farolito, you’re [half of] the basis of a new tradition. I adore your suede-smooth tortillas, your friendly cashiers, and your flickering fluorescent lights (which serve to enhance the low-key mood of the place/call out the bobos from Hayes Valley who schlepped to Mission + 24th to eat “authentic” food). Be mine! xoxo.
*From what I gather: I never actually saw it in its unfolded state.