"[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
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Los Cantaros, San Pablo Ave., Emeryville
Written by Casey Deeha
In the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, the Emeryville 'mudflats' created an infamous stench caused by the effleunt from meatpacking plants along the Bay Shore, which was called 'butcher town'. On hot days, carcasses created a particularly lovely smell.
That's lovely. Really.
Then Pixar came along, made a little film about a little desk lamp and boom - you have Emeryville, 'a wretched hive of scum and villainy' (not really, but I wanted to quote Obiwan Kenobi at least once). A place indeed - a place pf strip malls and corporate conglomerates which, left to their own devices, could purchase small countries somewhere in the world - let us not forget that Pixar is owned by the freaking Disney 'family' - an oxymoron if I've ever heard one - just what does 'family' mean these days... let's stay clear of that one.
But here I am in Los Cantaros - Pixar posters plaster the walls and I wonder if Pixar employees come in here to hide from their 'family' members - distant cousins from ABC and ESPN (yes, Disney owns these). It's nice. I order my food - two burritos -yes two: a fish burrito (Grilled Salmon, a spinach tortilla, mexican rice, pinto beans, pico de gallo) and a 'Super Veggie' burrito (flour tortilla, pinto beans, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and grilled veggies).
I order my burritos and wait.
I wait a long fucking time. I wait so long I tweet, 'at @LosCantaros in #Emeryville where time stands still'. In fact, I'm waiting for so long, I start thinking of the beginning of Up, where the life time of the mean old guy is shown in about five minutes - it's really sad and there's a death at the end of it, which provides more poignancy to the metaphor, but what is thematically central in the comparison is time - a lot of it. So much so, that I complain to the manager and get a refund for food I haven't eaten yet.
Then I feel guilty, because the Salmon burrito is good. Damnit - I really wanted to be a fascist consumer about this. While the veggie burrito is average as it's good value for the money given that it's big and $5.95... not too shabby - the salmon burrito is something to write about - a culinary delight with my excellent choice of a spinach tortilla. Casey Deeha readers will certainly know that the challenge of good fish burritos is always a question of how to make the fish central to the experience - 'The Burrito Shop' in Oakland failed with their Talapia Fish burrito (click for the review). However, Los Cantaros gets it right - the grilled salmon takes center stage but does not dominate. My own only criticism is too much rice and, of course, the sheer amount of time for the thing to arrive at my table.
From carcass stench to Disney family, Emeryville has taken a step into Fishy happiness as if this would be the natural progression to any geographical area located on a Bay. Strange place really - Emeryville - it creeps me out if I'm perfectly honest.
Do I smell something?
Salsa Rating: Salmon Burrito - Hot; Veggie Burrito - A big fat medium tamale