Editor’s Note: The stars have aligned and the magical combination of my new-found unemployment and the insatiable cries of the general public for a Pino de Gallo revival have led me to reboot this bad boy. But first thing’s first, I’ve got a backlog of half-digested blog posts from 2-3 years ago that I’m going to try to piece together, roll up, and deliver to you all. I would take any and all opinions of these burritos lightly because years of alcohol abuse has resulted in a shaky memory at best. And much like my memory, the pictures were taken in a time pre-smartphone and will therefore be of low quality. In the meantime, put on “Welcome Back” and enjoy the new post!
In the fall of twenty aught ten, I was coming off of a rough few months from my first election cycle. NCC was busting through budgets on the backs of overworked account executives, overqualified assistants, and a revolving door of no-talent ass clown temps. As I fell in neither the first category, nor the last, I got all the work of the last group with none of the compensation of the first. Who needs commission when a little overtime and the occasional 33 oz beer at Lia’s in Friendship Heights will suffice? Needless to say that my bloated beer gut (election weight gain) and I needed a vacation.
Now, the fiscally responsible Tom thought “Let’s take this extra money I’ve earned and pay down some of our student loan debt.” But Mase was having none of that, to which he retorted, “Fuck that noise, we’re going on vacation!” And we promptly booked our ticket on Virgin Airlines to the city of angels, Sin City, the Big Apple, the Windy City, the Whale’s Vagina, Beantown…. that’s right SAN FRANCISCO! I had never been before, and I had a dear, sweet friend of mine from college living there: the 1/4 Atlantic Sea Bear Spoony Evelyn Blanchard. At the U, he was known for his big layouts on the ultimate field, warm soft & luxurious body hair, and the Spoony face.
(Sidebar: This may have been the greatest flight of my life. This is still the only trip I have flown on Virgin Airlines, and before boarding at Dulles, I had a Chipotle burrito and a fine Rogue beer in the terminal; then I stepped onto the plane that looked like a night club and went to my cushy window seat. I then find out that one of the flight attendants is a former Ms. California (hotty!), and not only that, I can start a tab at my seat and order Glenlivet 12 yr scotch delivered to my seat (at a reasonable price by airline standards). I thought that was great but was worried that my lovable Celtics are starting their season that night against the newly created Miami Heat franchise and their own Big 3… and I might miss it. But …. there was a screen on my seat and I could get as drunk while watching basketball 30,000 feet in the air as I would at the Garden or the Verizon Center! What an age we live in…)
The bay area has given us so many great things over the years: Barry Bonds, great earthquakes and fires, anachronistic modes of transportation, smartphones with easily cracked screens that include a simple one button interface perfect for drunk white girls taking selfies… so what better place to vacation than the city that is credited with the modern iteration of our beloved burrito?
History lesson ya’ll! Ch-ch-check it out! The Mission District in SF is ground zero for the large, multi-ingredient stuffed deliciousness we all think of when the word “burrito” floats into our ears. Read more about it here, because I’m not your goddamn teacher. One of my few demands for my visit was an authentic Mission District burrito. (The others? Cuddle time with Spoony – check. One fresh sea lion pelt from Fisherman’s Wharf – tbd. Spoony’s one request? “Please don’t call me a bear in public. That means something different here.”)
On my final night in the Golden State, (coincidentally the night of Mike Vick single-handed destruction of the Washington professional football team on MNF in the form of “Vick became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game. “ en route to a 59-28 victory. And as we all know, the good times never let up as he saved the Eagles and Lil Peen’s fantasy season!) I cashed in on my demand to go to the Mission District for god’s food. Now this was 2010, so the Mission District was still a bit sketchy much like parts of Southie Boston, H St DC, and Bushwick Brooklyn, but apparently it’s become some sort of hip and expensive area (unlike the rest of SF?) just like…. the aforementioned list. Nonetheless, accompanied by Spoonbear, we headed down to Taqueria Cancun (Cancun? Spring break! Wooooo!), a place that I had found through rigorous and in-depth research (read: 2 min on Google).
The bright glowing yellow and red sign was warm and inviting, and made it feel authentic. Why? Probably because I’m easily tricked by Mexican-ish colors. I stepped up to the counter with the impressive array of options in front of me and ordered an al pastor burrito ($5.99) with rice, beans, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, and avocado. The other (not blogged about) burrito I had in SF was traditional, so I decided to order this one “wet,” (“mojado”) to which Spoony channeled his best inner Wayne Brady and said, “I didn’t know you like to get wet…?” The mojado sauce was a combination of red enchilada sauce, salsa verde, and sour cream, because at this point I thought, why not play intestinal roulette by dropping a dairy bomb into my stomach before a cross country flight, right?
The salsa verde packed a good punch on the “picante” scale, but lacked any real flavor beyond that and was generally mediocre. The meat was very good, but the packaging of the burrito, the tortilla was a bit thin resulting in added mess and was somewhat dry (so probably even better that I got a mojado), although I did find the texture rich and the flavor complimentary. Within this flour missile, the ratios of meat/cheese/salsas/fillings was very good. I didn’t have that awful feeling of bites consisting entirely of just one ingredient or the fear of not finding something I did order. One large complaint was the cheese that I found to be both generic and lacking in abundance. I love me cheese, not just quality or quantity, but I want a large quantity of quality cheese. Do you feel me, man(chego)?
Taqueria Cancun was exactly what I had hoped for in my first visit to the big Bay Hole. It didn’t totally rock my world, but it was still a great burrito and the cost:taste ratio was fantastic. Compared to about anything we have in DC, it crushes the competition, but for California, I’m sure it’s no more than slightly above average. If I lived there, I’m sure it would be in my regular rotation (especially considering it’s a 24 hour joint), but I have to dock them for neglecting the queso. Probably a Cali 3 that we’ll call an East Coast 4 (same rule applies to women, beer, and burritos).