BURRITO WISDOM – a vegetarian burrito quest www.burritowisdom.com

DOUGLAS ARMOUR

Posted in Interviews by burritowizard on June 21, 2009

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The Burrito Wizard interviewed singer/ songwriter Douglas Armour through a series of emails between May 17th and May 26th 2009 :

BW: When I was in D.C. last week I went down to the Union Station food court, and found that the last remaining “original” recipe Burrito Brothers has closed.  As one of the original “Burrito Brothers” what are your thoughts?

DA: Yeah, that’s a bummer.  But I kind of feel like Burrito Brothers died awhile ago.  Once they were run out of Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan, it was over.  They were kind of too simple for their own good.  Looking back I feel like half the time I went there they were inexplicably closed or the person working there was nowhere to be found… this was the Adams Morgan spot specifically.  The only one that’s left in D.C. is the one on Capitol Hill, right?  There is one out by Tyson’s Corner in Northern Virginia, which is my old stomping grounds, but I’ve never been there… (Whoa, just felt an earthquake!)  Not sure if it’s the original recipe there or not. I left D.C. in 1996.

BW: I think the Virginia location is closed as well, I tried calling them and the number has been disconnected (next time I’m in the area I will try to stop by in person).
In 1996 you moved from D.C. and Burrito Brothers to S.F. what was your first impression of S.F. burritos?

 DA: When I moved to S.F. I moved into the Mission District (into an art-school and punk rawk group house on Mission Street called “the Mission House”.)  I think the first place I went to was Taqueria Cancun. Glorious.  I was in burrito Mecca.  Cancun is still my “old standby” place in S.F. … if I’m only there for a day and want to get a burrito I’ll go there.  Pancho Villa’s probably makes a better burrito but the vibe at Cancun is much better.  I mean, you could go there and just have a beer and it wouldn’t feel strange.  I think we can agree that S.F. has the best packaging of burritos out there.  Tin-foil rolled super-tight.

BW: In S.F. you lived lived away from burritos but near former “Burrito Brother” and inventor of the Hardflip Dan Gallagher ( according to Rodney Mullen )

You moved to L.A. in the late 1990’s, what are your thoughts about Los Angeles burritos???

DA: Yeah, the last year I was in S.F. I lived out in the Sunset District on 42nd Avenue a few blocks from the beach.  It was pretty bleak out there.  Not much in the burrito department but I do remember ordering vanilla and being sold Durian flavored ice cream at a Chinese ice cream place in the Sunset… yikes.  I moved to LA (the first time) in the summer of 1998.  I really think of LA as being a taco (and bacon-wrapped hot-dogs) town.  I love the taco trucks (El Taco Movil is my local truck) and the newer, higher-end specialty kind of places… like the Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, Loteria or Malo (Oaxacan cuisine, etc…)  It seems that your typical “historic” family-style Mexican place in LA like Castitas del Campo, Lucy’s El Adobe, or that place down on Western and 9th (who also run El Coyote) are really nice to hang out and have a margarita or four, but the food is kind of gnarly and expensive for what you get… a big, hot plate with refried beans, overcooked, over-seasoned rice, and melted velveeta cheese.

My favorite burrito when I first moved to LA was the vegetarian chile relleno burrito at Tacos Delta in Silverlake.  Nowadays, it’s the bean, rice and cheese burrito at Mariela’s Tacos on 3rd Street in Koreatown.  But on a whole I’m still shocked that no one in LA has come close to making a solid Mission-style burrito.

Last Spring (2008), the Burrito Wizard and Douglas Armour met up for a burrito at Washington’s Union Station for what they didn’t realize was their “Last Burrito” at Burrito Brothers, sacrificed, hopefully to rise again.

If you Haven’t seen Douglas Armour’s Headbanger video for the song Flushed and Flamelike Themselves click on this link: VIDEO

 

Burrito Wizard chats with Mick Barr (Oldest, Krallice, Ocrilim, Octis, Orthrelm, Crom-Tech)

Posted in Interviews by burritowizard on April 9, 2009
 
mick-barr-burrito-wizard

BW: In the spirit of all great talk shows, do you have something to promote?  I hear you have a new project with Brooks (Headley) that I’m excited to hear?

 

MB: –yes, me and brooks have a new band dubbed oldest. we just recorded a demo. i am excited about it. it kind of sounds like voivod and darkthrone and maybe crom tech.

 

BW: Burrito wise, what areas of the country, states, cities, or neighborhoods do you pay attention to burritos?  (the big ones: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, New York, Texas)

 

MB: –i am probably one of the many who holds san francisco burritos in high regard. LA seems like more of a taco town. san diego seems more taquitos or enchiladas or maybe even more huevos rancheros. chicago is a burrito of a different ilk than i can understand. in NY i’ve just recently discovered that great burritos hide in the back of mexican groceries. and in texas i usually ignore the burritos and go for the barbeque.

 

BW: Can you name a single favorite burrito?  Or a few that are up there?

 

MB: –when i was living in san francisco i would go to a place called castillito pretty much everyday. the one on church street right across from safeway, not the one in the mission. at first i wasn’t completely blown away by it, just thought it was a solid hefty good burrito. but as i explored other burrito spots in town, i always went back to castillito and was really happy. and i never once got sick of it. i would mostly go for the veggie burito with the spinach tortilla, pinto beans and avocado instead of guacamole. it wasn’t bad guacamole, but it was always too cold.

 

Check out Mick’s latest project Oldest here: OLDEST

 

Download the Oldest tracks here: DOWNLOAD

 

 See Mick on tour with Krallice this May/ June: TOUR DATES with Wolves in the Throne Room and A Storm of Light.

 

EL CASTILLITO 
136 Church St San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-3428
 

 

EL TONAYENSE TAQUERIA (7.75)

Posted in Mission by burritowizard on March 22, 2009

tonayense-exterior

3150 24th Street San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 550-9192

Measurements: 7.5” circumference, 7” length (smaller than average)

Regular Veggie Burrito $5.43 after tax

Day three: burrito #8.  Got this one for the drive back to Los Angeles.  Solid burrito, but I’m more impressed by the salsa dome.  The spicy red/ green sauce (see middle sauce in photo) is notable as well as the pico de gallo.

tonayense-salsa-dome

 

Value: slightly worse than others in the area.

WIZARD’S SCORE: 7.75

LA TAQUERIA (8.5)

Posted in Mission by burritowizard on March 22, 2009

la-taqueria-exterior

2889 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 285-7117

 

Measurements: 7.5” circumference, 8” length (smaller than average)

 

Regular burrito $3.80 after tax

 

la-taqueria-burrito

 

Burrito Wizard Does San Francisco.  Day 3, back to the Mission.   Simple no frills burrito: pinto beans, jack cheese, and pico de gallo; similar to Pancho Villa, but a little watery (from pico de gallo) and not quite the consistency.  No salsa bar, but they have a killer green hot sauce on the table.  They charge $.50 for sour cream or guacamole. 

 

la-taqueria-hot-sauce

 

Value: about average

 

WIZARD’S SCORE: 8.5

 

GREEN CHILE KITCHEN (7.5)

Posted in Gringo, Vegan, Western Addition by burritowizard on March 22, 2009

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601 Baker Street San Francisco, CA 94117

(415) 614-9411

www.greenchilekitchen.com

VIEW MENU

Dubbed New Mexican (the state) style burritos, the Green Chile Kitchen serves good clean vegan friendly food. Their burritos are served plated with a red or green topping sauce (both have the option of spicy or mild). I ordered both on the side and had my burrito wrapped in foil hand held style. Not a big fan of topping sauces, they are always less flavorful than salsas, but the red is inedible. The green is great (for a topping sauce), it’s what they are known for. Additionally they have a salsa (for the chips), which has a dynamic flavor unlike any I have had before. The burrito is a solid S.F. burrito with clean gringo construction.


Value: about average


Wizard’s Score: 7.5

CUCO’S (9)

Posted in Lower Haight by burritowizard on March 21, 2009

cucos-sign

488 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 863-8187

 

Imagine if you could physically step back into your mother’s womb, that’s what a Cuco’s burrito is like.  At this point in the burrito quest, my friends are all burrito-ed out.  So I double park the car with the flashers on and run inside Cuco’s.  I order the Plantain Burrito that I have heard so much about.  The woman who I believe to be the creator of Cuco’s smiles and pulls a fresh unpeeled plantain out of the food storage area.  Everything is made fresh, to perfection.  I opted for black beans.  Eating the burrito was something of a blur… the complicated blend of flavors… the sour cream in particular… the clearly Salvadorian hot sauce with the fresh chips… Is this a burrito?  I don’t know what to call it, but I will be back, and you should try it.  This may have been a dream.  But I’m pretty sure it was real.  Seems like owner operated burrito joints are less common in S.F., but Cuco’s is a definitive example of one of the great owner operated burrito creations.  I was unable to measure or take pictures in my ecstatic burrito haze, so enjoy the sense of mystery.

 

Value: once in a lifetime culinary opportunity.

 

WIZARD’S SCORE: 9

 

TAQUERIA PANCHO VILLA (9)

Posted in Mission by burritowizard on March 20, 2009

pancho-villa-exterior

3071 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 864-8840

www.panchovillasf.com


Measurements: 8” circumference, 7.5” length (about average for S.F. regular burritos)


B: rice, beans, cheese and pico de gallo $5.37 after tax.


pancho-villa-salsa-plate


Supposedly embracing the revolutionary spirit of the great Mexican commander namesake, Pancho Villa gets my vote for the best burrito in the Mission. Possessing the character of a gallon of bleach, many feel that Pancho Villa is for sell-outs, but few can deny the quality of their food.  No love, no heart, no soul, but perfect pico de gallo. Most beautiful salsa bar ever.  If you’ve seen the film: Good Burger (1997) this place is the evil competition.  And, in this case, the bad guys win.


pancho-villa-salsa-bar


Value: about average


WIZARD’S SCORE: 9


EL FAROLITO (7.25)

Posted in Mission by burritowizard on March 19, 2009

farolito-sign

2950 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 641-0758

Measurements: 8” circumference, 8.5” length (longer than average)

Regular Vegetarian Burrito $4.86 after tax


It’s after 10pm on a Monday night in the Mission.  With my taxicab driver friend (who just got off work), and my Yellow Dog Taqueria Cancun devotee friend (would rather eat a yellow dog than any other burrtio than Cancun).  Most of the burrito shops are closed, so we go to El Farolito.  A great example of how you can walk into any burrito shop in S.F. and still get a better than average (nationally) burrito.  The pictures make it look better than it tastes but still a fine burrito with a sweet little salsa bar.  There are several El Farolito locations in the S.F. area.

farolito-salsa-bar

Value: Better than average


WIZARD’S SCORE: 7.25