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Torta al pastor at El Farolito, 24th St, Mission

I'm on a gradual quest to try every restaurant on 24th Street (at least between Mission and Potrero) and tonight I went to El Farolito for the first time. I started walking down 24th Street at 8:30 PM...Tonayense had one person in it, El Delfin was closing, other places were empty...but I got to El Farolito and there was a line of 6 people, and 28 people (I counted) were in the restaurant. Good sign I guess, though I think part of the attraction was the soccer game on TV.

I ordered a torta al pastor, a side of chips (which cost 50 cents), and a strawberry agua fresca. The strawberry juice was good and somewhat pulpy, good deal at 1 dollar. Chips were not very good, not a good deal since chips at other places are free and better. Salsas were all good but nothing special.

I waited more than 10 minutes for my torta due to the line, and when it came, it looked awesome. Really big, overflowing with pork. Tastewise though, it was only OK.

Pork (al pastor) was not very flavorful at all. The refried beans on the sandwich were bland too. On the plus side, the cheese was nice and melty and the bread was very good. But overall the sandwich just didn't taste like much. I ordered the sandwich w/ out chili sauce, so when I put some salsa verde on it, that helped. But not enough to really merit ever ordering a torta here again.

It's clear that people on this board (not to mention the crowd of people tonight) like El Farolito for something....maybe just for the big TV? If I go there again, should I try something else?

Dave MP

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  1. I've never tried El Farolito, but I've definitely heard good comments about it. You should try Tortas Los Picudos at 2969 24th Street at Harrison. Excellent tortas (not too much else on the menu) and my favorite is the chorizo and egg torta. Their aguas frescas are tasty and they even have shakes and agua frescas with a little milk in them. So good! Seating is very limited, so pick it up to go or try to snag a seat fast.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shnigglebob

      I definitely want to try a torta at Los Picudos sometime soon...the one you describe sounds excellent. The only thing I've had at Los Picudos is a fruit smoothie, which was very good. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Dave MP

      1. re: shnigglebob

        My favorites here are the fish torta and a squeezed to order carrot orange juice.

      2. Hello Dave MP! El Farolito on 24th is wonderful for its burritos and quesadillas! I've been a regular for years. Note that not all the El Farolitos in the bay area have the same quality. The 24th Street restaurant has much better grilled meats than the Alabama branch. Also, even at the 24th Street restaurant, quality can vary somewhat from day to day. Somedays spectacular chary meats, somedays less chary and less flavorsome. I hope you go back and enjoy the burritos and quesadillas.

        1. Howdy neighbor! I would agree with the call to try Tortas Los Picudos. Another recommendation is Tortas El Primo, on the corner of Folsom and 21st.

          As Elise notes, El Farolito is known for its burritos and quesadillas. I think the general consensus is that the branch on Mission (intersection 24th) is the better of the two, but I rarely go to the other branch on 24th because of the distance. That said, my food from the 24th st. branch has been pretty solid, and the place is always packed. In any case, the branch on Mission has the best carne asada for my money in the Mission.

          I'm not sure if you were looking for a torta, al pastor, or both. As a rule of thumb, I usually do not get a torta from a burrito-centric place (usually because they do not have milanesa, but also because you should go with their best product). If you were looking for al pastor, I think Taqueria San Jose is close to the top of the heap. A rule of thumb with al pastor is that if they have the spit, it's worth trying. Happy hunting on 24th!

          4 Replies
          1. re: david de berkeley

            I like Los Picudos queso fresco tortas. Sometimes the meat items look a little iffy to me, but the queso fresco, avocado and creama tortas with jalapenos are the best.

            Second rec. for Taqueria San Jose. They have the best al pastor.

            1. re: Mari

              Of the places I've tried so far, I agree that San Jose has the best al pastor.

              1. re: Dave MP

                I like the al pastor at San Jose but am not such a fan of the burritos, which tend to be on the watery side for some strange reason.

            2. re: david de berkeley

              There's another El Farolito at 4817 Mission at Russia (in the Excelsior). This branch often puts so much meat into their Quesadilla Suizas one could feed a family of four.

            3. I think El Farolito shines with its carne asada burritos and quesadilla suizas. I think they have the best-assembled burritos in the Mission.

              For al pastor, I go to Altena or El Tonayense for tacos and Cancun for burritos.

              1. al pastor at El Faralito (24th and Mission) tends to be pretty greasy and flavorless. As mentioned before, skip the tortas there. personally, I love the cabesa tacos. Amazing. Also, the carnitas burrito really hits the spot.

                1 Reply
                1. re: keeper

                  I personally love the al pastor burrito at El Farolito and have yet to be disappointed.

                2. Hi Dave MP -- just a shout out and a reminder to come back home to have a torta at Tacos Lupita when you can. The ladies are still grumpy and the carne asada is still divine.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: yumyum

                    Hey yumyum! Good to hear from you....I actually *was* thinking about Tacos Lupita last night when I was disappointed by the torta at El Farolito. I might have to swing by, I'll be in Boston for a day next week....although I'll probably be pretty busy eating elsewhere. Let me know if you're ever out here in San Francisco, since there are some excellent tortas here too...I didn't like El Farolito, but another torta at Torta Loca down the street was great, and I'm excited to try Los Picudos.

                    Dave MP

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      No disrespect, but Tacos Lupita can't hold a candle to El Farolito, imo. Maybe I'm biased by the burritos at Lupita, which are truly awful (niblets in the rice!). I do recall the tortas being better but I personally preferred the burritos and fillings at Boca and Anna's.

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        I've never had a burrito at Tacos Lupita, but I can say for sure that the pork al pastor there is better than the pork al pastor I had at El Farolito. I do find it very believable that El Farolito does other things (like carne asada, burritos, quesadillas, etc) very well.

                        Maybe there should be a separate board for comparing places that are on opposite ends of the country. :) :) I hope this is San Francisco specific enough...it's at least useful for us Massachusetts transplants here in SF.

                        Dave MP

                  2. I usually go for the quesadilla Suiza (with carne asada) at El Farrolita.

                    1. I like King Taco (and will be there over the holidays) but I have to disagree. You can get good al pastor in SF. CanCun on Mission/19th does it well.

                      1. Inside the Emeryville Marketplace Food Court there is a place that has real Al Pastor (vertical rotisserie)... its not bad.

                        BTW, non one in L.A. would even mention King Taco in the same breath as good Al Pastor. King Taco is clean, reliable, there are dozens around L.A.... and a safe bet if you can't find anything else but really nothing anybody would brag about.

                        1. No doubt Cancun on 19th is EPIC.....

                          1. Going to El Farolito for a Torta is like going to Farallon for a steak. Next time, get the carne burrito "toasty" style (they grill it after stuffing), and chase it with a Mexican Coke (no HFS here!). YUM.

                            If you are into variety meats, they often have tripa, lengua & caveza (cheek, not brain). I tried the tongue, but don't have the "cohones" to try the others.

                            For torta, I suggest Torta Gorda on 24th, a few blocks down by Bryant.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: foodiegrl

                              I know :( But when I walked into El Farolito, I saw a guy eating a torta and it *looked* so good, which was the main reason I ordered it. Oh well. I have been to Torta Gorda once and I thought it was great!

                              Also, thanks for the tip about Mexican coke at El Farolito...definitely will check that out!

                              Dave MP