"[C]ritics Casey Deeha, Chipp Oatlay, Sal Savirdy and 'El Presidente Mole' promise to provide 'not merely a description of burritos, but a more writerly experience that gives the attention to burritos that they deserve.' Yep. You heard it here, folks. - Jay Barmann, SF Grubfest

"[Casey Deeha] also thinks it could be a matter of cultural heritage and sense of place why a Mission-style burrito is thought to taste the best in San Francisco." - Tamara Palmer, Zagat

"Bay Area Review of Burritos -a must read for anyone remotely interested in foil-wrapped tube food" - Kevin Montgomery, Up Town Almanac

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

La Calaca Loca, Rockridge


Written by Sal Savirdy

If the food is as delightful as the name is phonetically appealing, we're in for a treat. That it translates as 'the crazy skeleton' is further bonus points. That they have used metal skeletons to decorate the exterior, wins my vote for prime Taqueria decor.

Inside, Mini Driver (age 3) is in love with the multitude of different piƱata that hang from the ceiling, (despite my concern about their ability to magnetically attract all dust in inappropriate areas, like too provocative paper snowmen). The staff are endlessly forgiving of her decision to constantly tamper with the light switches (rather unfortunately located on the wall, at perfect toddler height). These switches are for the kitchen lights specifically, and she gave them a perpetual rave whilst we were eating but miraculously there were still smiles as we left. THEY DID SAY LOCA THOUGH, RIGHT?

We ate:

Burrito Vegetariano $4.95 Queso, pinto beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, cabbage & onions

and Elote $3.25 Corn on the Cobb with crumble queso fresco, mayo & chile powder

Mini Driver had: Cheese Quesadilla $4.25 Mucho melted queso, folded in a crispy flour tortilla with pico de gallo

Added perks?  Order at the bar but then they actually have a skeleton take the time to bring it to your table for you like it's no big deal for them to do so or something crazy ( come on, it's LOCA)

The Burrito.

Excellent tortilla & good size burrito- not so big and greasy there was a risk of blow-outs or unfolding, not so dry it felt stale. I never say these things all at once.

Ingredients were perfectly balanced and well mixed with no misplacement or excess of one over another (e.g beans or sour cream etc. making the sides of the tortilla soggy). I was concerned that the onions might be over-powering, or that the raw cabbage might make the texture chewy, or too bitter (or worse still pierce the skin all over the place) but the balance was exactly right and the combination of ingredients, particularly the pinto ( rather than black beans) with the cabbage and onion made for a light-tasting, but fulfilling meal. ( WHERE HAS MY HEALTHY LEVEL OF CYNICISM GONE? COULD THIS JUST ACTUALLY BE GOOD FOOD?)

There were several accompanying homemade salsa options, all were very good and in the convenient squeezy things (well done calacas). The habanero, (as predicted) crazy hot. CRAZY. Like a calaca.

I followed the burrito with their elote, a corn on the cob seasoned with chile and coated in their crumble queso fresco and mayo (their baja sauce). I struggle to say this was better than the burrito because it was insufficient to be eaten on it's own as a meal, but on the plus side, Mini had managed to take a brief hiatus from tormenting kitchen calacas so perhaps anything at that moment would have been entirely enjoyable. A perfect uproarious tang of lemon simultaneously contraindicated the greasiness of the mayo and the creaminess of the queso at exactly the right level. The chili was enough to make it too toasty for some kid's palates but perfect for a seasoned adult. Gawsh, it's love. CRAZY LOVE THOUGH?

In addition to all of this Mini Driver didn't throw her quesadilla at the wall (i.e. she ate most of it) and she finished an entire tray of chips and pico de gallo despite the light switch distraction. This made me as a guardian of the driver, NOT CRAZY. And probably meant they were pretty darned nice to eat too. 

One of the most reasonably priced and yet culinarily interesting and satisfying I have had in the Bay Area. Clean, relaxed, beautifully decorated and kid friendly and the staff polite, smiley and helpful. Wait times for take out are about average. Free one hour parking outside until 6, when it is free for 2hrs. (I also do voice over).

La Calaca Loca also offer events catering. And steals your cynicism and nominal level of discrimination. The food is actually very good. GO THERE.

Salsa rating: HABANERO

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