Review: Taqueria el Castillito: Recommended

370 Golden Gate Avenue (between Hyde and Larkin)

Taqueria el Castillito has been my default taqueria for the past few months, and I think I now have enough information to write a proper review.

I stand by what I said before about their burritos — good and solid, with a tasty salsa (though the price seems to have gone up to $4.65). I want to elaborate a bit on my ideas on burritos while I’m on the topic. Burritos come in various levels of moistness; I prefer mine on the dry side. A messy, dripping burrito is not my idea of a good lunch. This is why I like rice in burritos, and why I get pinto beans instead of refried. They provide solidity. This is also why I like a chunky salsa that’s more a pico de gallo than a sauce per se.

Taqueria el Castillito also makes a pretty good torta ($4.64) — Mexican sandwich, for those of you who don’t know them. To me, the main thing that distinguishes a torta is the grilled bun it goes on. After that, it depends on the restaurant. Some just slap on a portion of meat and have done; others add all the toppings they would put on a burrito and then some. Taqueria el Castillito adds cheese, avocado, sour cream, tomatoes, and lettuce; I had grilled chicken on mine. It’s a tasty, if fat-filled, sandwich. They avoid the trap of over-creaming a torta; I’ve had many a torta that sort of oozed out of its soggy bun. For this reason, I tend not to order them in restaurants I haven’t come to trust.

I’ve had a few more of their meats, too. The carnitas is good; the carne asada is okay. I haven’t tried the pastor or the chorizo yet. I’m a little scared of the lengua.

Finally, I tried the alambres plate ($7.58), or as I think of it, the heart attack platter. Alambres means “wires” in Spanish. It’s a mess of beef, bacon, bell pepper, and onions all fried up together — basically a Philly cheese steak with bacon. It comes with rice, beans, salsa, salad, and tortillas. It’s really good, but it’s hard not to feel you’re shaving years off your life.

I also want to note that I now recommend against the location on McAllister. The food is more or less the same, but the folks at the McAllister location have, on multiple occasions, “accidentally” upgraded me to a super burrito and then tried to charge me for it. That’s either dishonesty or ineptitude, and I’m not OK with it. Better to walk the extra two blocks.