"[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
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Papalote, 24th St., Mission District, San Francisco
Written by Casey Deeha
If ever I were to wake one day to the sound of a domineering voice, benevolent yet all encompassing, instructing in a suggestive manner to, 'arise, exercise and enjoy' the well tailored career that has been constructed ingeniously based on an elaborate scientific process of understanding the human psyche, I shall be pleasantly pleased - for I am in a perfect utopian communism; I am in a place where my personality determines my course, but my course is crafted in such a manner that steers the complexity of society to work like a well oiled machine.
Welcome to Papalote, where upon entering I saw not one, but many working as one - a well oiled machine producing... a - very - good - burrito. It was as if I had walked into a sci-fi dystopian depiction of a choiceless future, but a perfect one - a utopia where the decision was made for me - was for me and only me as if Winston never had an impetus to rebel. In other words, Papalote was in my head and knew exactly where I should sit; Papalote was in my head and knew exactly how much Habenero to put in their sauce for me; Papalote was in my head and knew the right blend of grilled zucchini, egg plant, pinto beans, vegan rice, sour cream, guacamole and cheese; Papalote knew me...
The burrito was good, but we knew this - anyone who's vaguely knowledgeable about the burrito world in the Bay Area will know that Papalote has been touted as the 'best burrito' on a number of occassions, from '07 to '10 by Reader's Vote SF Bay Guardian, and has been championed by a number of well known publications including USA Today, SF Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, and the big bad New York Times. Our well esteemed colleague, The Burrito Eater (perhaps the most qualified of burrito experts) claims that 'Papalote’s consistently sky-high quality is unassailable in our book.' And what does all of this amount to? Well, it is as if upon eating what the NY Times calls, 'that ultimate Mission synthesis: the veggie burrito', I am obliged to stand up and applaud in much the same way as going to see the opera - a grandiose performance which takes a hell of a lot of talent and execution that I have been indoctrinated to appreciate.
I stand and applaud while nodding my head with pursed lips at various people standing around me as if to say, 'yep... yep... it's good' in order to affirm what I have been fed (pun very much intended). So, if Papalote is in my head, I start to consider the possibility of my head being in Papalote in such a manner to suggest that I came to Papalote as Papalote, an elaborate and well constructed kite, in which the string is firmly held by USA Today, The SF Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Burrito Eater, amongst many others. In this way, 'good' becomes arbitrary in much the same way as 'bad'.
But... let's not become poststructuralist about this, but accept the pragmatics: when I peered my head around the corner into the kitchen, I saw what Chipotle dreams of becoming (but is far from it) - a well oiled machine of burrito afficionados working together like the seamless elements of an opera - well rehearsed and producing applaud-able burritos time and time again. And, at the risk of challenging the status quo, while firmly stating that the Papalote veggie burrito is 'good,' I will concede that I believe there are burritos of an equal quality on the other side of the Bay, whose 'goodness' is without a-heavy-hitting-media-derivative.
Regardless of these thoughts - (perhaps double thoughts?), I will one day in the future rise out of bed and hear the gentle, yet domineering voice of Papalote, like a siren call, to return to the well-fashioned-burrito that has tapped into my psyche. I will not resist for it is 'good' - very 'good'. And in this dys-utopia, I will find myself standing upon the water knowing that there will be no gun pointed at my head, but only my head.
(If anything, for the love of creatures big and small, try their salsa.)
Salsa Rating: Hot in all its goodness.