April 1, 2010
When I asked for recommendations before, and during, my trip to San Francisco, one answer kept popping up: get a burrito in The Mission district. And apparently not just any burrito, but one from El Farolito.
Now with that in mind, it seemed a crime against destiny not to go and try that signature food item of San Francisco. California has some well known names, such as In-N-Out, but burritos are to San Francisco what bagels are to New York. There's a certain art to what makes for a "perfect" final product. So then, onto El Farolito.
First off, the Mission is not the most glamorous of neighborhoods, so the barebones, pretention-out-the-window setup of El Farolito made sense. My friend and I joined the line of construction workers, hipsters, and even suits, to place an order with the man behind the counter who cared only if you wanted your burrito super or regular.
My friend ordered the Super Al Pastor Burrito with marinated pork, rice, cheese, salsa, beans, sour cream, and avocados. An upside down shot of his burrito reveals the balanced layers of each ingredient, wrapped in a manner that he happily called "the right way to fold a burrito." Cyclists, who have a much bigger presence in San Francisco, should be able to grab these cheap, filling, and fast meals and eat them on the go without the shell tearing. The tortilla was indeed my favorite part, thick enough to hold the filling, but thin enough with a flaky skin to add a little texture.
After a day of continuous food stops throughout the day, I only had room to try the Regular Al Pastor Burrito, which was pretty much just pork, rice, salsa, and beans. I was never the biggest fan of rice, so I asked to have it left out, not realizing what that would mean for my final order. As such, my version ended up being composed of about 80% beans.
I had to dig to find the pork and the salsa, or had to scrape out some of the beans to equal it out. Looking back on it, I should've gotten the Super Burrito. But at the same time, shouldn't good ingredients and a balance between simpler elements still make for a great burrito, regardless?
While it wasn't life-changing for me, it's definitely an item worth trying in San Francisco. There were other intriguing meats on the menu, such as Beef Head Meat or Beef Brains, for the adventurous eaters. At less than $6 for most burritos, it'll be enough to leave you with enough left over to try the sweets right around the corner.
2779 Mission St
(between 23rd St & 24th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110