"[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

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Zona Rosa, Haight St., San Francisco

Written by Casey Deeha

If you've ever seen footage of salmon swimming against the rushing current of great northerly cold rivers to lay their eggs, than you've seen a true struggle - a struggle against the elements... yes, but more importantly, a struggle against what must be an overwhelming desire to say, 'fuck this' and return to the warmer waters that lay awaiting in the sea. But we would be without salmon and the struggle continues.

If you have ever meandered west on Haight towards Golden Gate park, then you may have an inkling of the salmon's struggle. For me, my scaly arms were not seeking a quiet place to build my redd (yes this is the official term for a salmon nest [I looked it up]) and lay my roe (likewise, official term for salmon eggs), but rather a more prized acquisition - a great burrito. However, like the salmon, my struggle was two-fold: on one hand, my 'run' is littered (yes the metahpor is slight but important) with a mess of tourist-goth-hippie-hipsters all mass consuming as if the 'Summer of Love' was a marketing campaign; on the other hand, it is an ideological battle against the duplicity of the 'Haight-Ashbury' scene. For what once was a source of liberation and rebellion against an almost fascistic convention of consume-and-be-happy, has now manifested as its own contradictory end. It is for this duplicitous nature that I make the choice to fight against the this two-fold struggle - the 'litter' and the ideology - to rest, nest and lay my roe within a taqueria, which for me, has become an oasis of purity amongst an urban sprawl filled with a schizophrenic populous all singing the anthem of buy-to-be-different-and-rebel, an anthem which is continually packaged and sold as soon as the first note is uttered.

For my redd-oasis, I chance upon Zona Rosa to lay my roe. It is promising as it certainly boasts a classic Mission Style setup with the great choice of ingredients to deliver a purist burrito. I go with the grilled veggie as a litmus test - to see if the veggies are actually grilled as many-a-taqueria short cut this small but very important step in creating a satisfying grilled veggie experience. I opt for pinto over black and, as usual, I guac it up to a super veggie, along with Mexican rice, lettuce, sour cream and what appears to be a good amount of wetness to prevent a dry experience. I am excited after my long struggle and eagerly await to sit and pile into what appears to be a quality burrito as this feast looks fit to fill a salmon such as myself. To my disappointment, I find that the salsas are kept in  plastic squeeze bottles - where's the salsa bar? But I give the benefit of the doubt given that a receptacle doesn't necessarily dictate the quality. I dig in to release my roe, squeeze a good portion of hot salsa on the brimming horizon of perhaps an all-too-rubbery tortilla and begin to rid myself of rebel-consumer-contradictions... tasty, but not terrific. The ingredients blend, but the taste of the salsa matches the aesthetic of its plastic container - a shame as the the chips are nice. All in all, nothing that I will remember in future runs against the rushing river but certainly enough to fill the void after an extremely tiring swim against the current.

I lay my roe, ironically, as a much fuller salmon than whence I came and begin my return to the serenity of the sea. The journey back is smoother given that I flow along the smooth waters of Waller St. rather than in the turbulence of Haight. For some salmon their journey ends at the redd with their roe - and when I think about it, perhaps there was something in me that died in realizing that even my dissent can and will be commodified.

I continue. And the cycle begins again.

Salsa rating: mediumly pleasant while un-pleasantly medium. 

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