No Scrappy/Shi-Shi Binary? It’s Burrito Mediocrity!

Mexican-American Culinary Masterpiece
Mexican-American Culinary Masterpiece

As a philosophical principle, I systematically eschew easy dichotomies. Either/Or worldviews befit children, not high-functioning adults like us! Nevertheless, when it comes to burritos, I live by one hard and steadfast rule: If it’s neither scrappy nor shi-shi, then it’s invariably mediocre. And mediocrity, in all things, is a bummer–am I right?

This lofty introduction brings me to Glen Park District’s La Coroneta, a cash-only taqueria frequented by a distinctively Northern-California, post-hipster stroller-set. You know the type. They tote their toddlers to Montessori school in their Toyota hybrids, while wearing North Face fleece and interesting/cool eyeglasses.

Any mega-vegan burrito with extra guacamole is a health blast with a perfectly-proportionate combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, good-fat, and the vitamin-and-mineral fiesta of sauteed vegetables. Not to mention that it usually costs less than $6, supports the local Mexican-American-eatery economy, and tastes damn good. If you have never had a San Francisco burrito, fly the heck out here and do it. It’s crazy worth the airfare.

But you must be tactical! Head straight to the Mission District. You’re on the prowl. The scrappiest joint in the city is surely El Farolito….which, according to local lore, happens to be the birthplace of the burrito, concocted in the late 60s as a portable lunch providing sustained energy for long days doing physically-intensive work. The folks at Farolito sling it like they mean it, and how.

In sharp relief, you have Papalote….literally one block away, on the gentrified side of the Mission. With jaw-watering offerings, such as vegan soyrizo, marinated achiote tofu, and traditional vegan tofu mole, Papalote defines the Mission District upscale burrito.

Which leads us back to La Coroneta, which falls midway on the Scrappy/Shi-Shi Burrito Continuum. Their only vegetarian offering is a grilled vegetable mix of cheap broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini. They grill it inoffensively bland. Tennis-ball-tasting tomatoes comprise their salsa. And their homemade tortilla chips taste almost bitter—-not to mention gooey-oily and not-salty!

All meanness aside, they offer a cute spinach-tortilla (whatever that means), with to-die-for guacamole (so good!) and flawless pinto beans. Plus, it’s near my house and a delightful fix after a ten-hour workday + three-hour-round-trip commute. And, in exhaustion, there is sublime satisfaction….and, perhaps in this situation, mediocrity actually rules.

Signing off with grand satisfaction….and a little more burrito wisdom. Any other dispensers of bomb-burrito know-how? Do tell! It is our lifeline.

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