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Aug 17, 2006 09:25 PM

La Palma - Bad Burrito Report

It saddens me to have to drop the dime on La Palma Mexicatessen(24th. st.) because I love that place. But when you are insulted by being forced to bite down on FOUR half inch square pieces of gristle in one steak burrito, the time has come to call a halt, or call ghostbusters, or something. Call Jim Leff for God's sake. He loves that place. I think he wrote an article about it. Mucho, mucho cartilago in mi burrito! Ayudame, por favor!

Not only that, but that meat did not have the beefy sabroso one normally associates with skirt steak. Skirt steak is a cheap but flavorful cut of beef that's why they use it in carne asada burritos. But no, this meat was something else, something more questionable. Mystery meat! Not beefy...but rubbery, dry...nasty!

All I can do is stop eating their burritos. And I'll tell you why: we had 3 burritos - they ALL contained mucho cartilago. This was no fluke. Whoever lied their way into the job of meat cutter at La Palma is passive agressive. We'll never know why. But this was no accident. I cut meat, on a regular basis, for home use. Not every day, but often enough to know that if you're cutting up raw meat into small pieces, it is certainly easy enough to spot half inch square solid chunks of gristle and remove them from the meat before it gets cooked and served to innocent customers.

I was tempted to call La Palma and tell the manager about the mucho cartilago (gristle), in my broken spanish, if necessary. But I've got a bad cold. I do take these things to heart. As a chowhound, I feel I have a responsibility to speak up politely but firmly when I see a San Francisco institution, like La Palma Mexicatessen, seriously slacking off. Let's face it, if loyal customers take the time to tell them about a serious problem, that is the only chance they are going to have to remedy the situation before their customer base starts to decline. Like the vicious circle at La Cumbre when they started serving dry meat and less people ate there, and consequently the meat had to sit around waiting longer and getting dryer. Rot has got to be nipped in the bud!

Just as soon as I feel better, La Palma is going to hear about the mucho carilago problemo - pronto.

Question: what taquerias near La Palma make really good steak burritos - carne asada?


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  1. Taqueria San Francisco - 24th and York. Great carne asada burritos. Ask for the spicy "taco sauce" if you like it that way.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Sorry to hear that. I haven't had their burritos, but I tried their tamales last Saturday and they were so bland. I only took a bite since it wasn't worth the calories.

        However, one redeeming note is that they are now selling tortillas by the kilo like they do in Mexico. The kilo is $1.30 and the tortillas are fresh and tasty - these are thin tortillas and not like their handmade type. No preservatives like other packaged tortillas. Also note that they generally will give you a little taste if you ask them first before you buy anything.

        1. Perhaps you're overreacting? La Palma makes its money by selling ingredients to Latinos who live in the Mission, and the few burritos they might occasionally sell to the rest of us are hardly their first priority; they might be a bit amused to learn that we constitue the "loyal customer" base which has to go save them. Moreover, even among us dilettantes, I don't think La Palma has ever been known for their burritos anyway, but for their masa, fresh cheese, and fried goods.

          1. Well, I've never sampled their taqueria fare, but I do love their "salsa x picante" in the fridge case. It's hot! I like that I can indulge myself and get a lotto ticket and some good salsa in one place. I believe that their tacos were written up in the recent NYT taco article, but I could be mistaken.