Settling one of San Francisco’s biggest burrito rivalries

Editor’s Note: In this monthly column, San Francisco singer and entertainer La Doña will celebrate the city’s vibrant Mexican food scene by reviewing a different burrito each month at taquerias across the city.

Ever since I started reviewing burritos in this official capacity, I’ve started to be harassed online by folxes begging me to weigh in on Gordo’s hotly contested burritos. Most of these people who were long tired of their local taqueria bearing the brunt of burrito bullying were young, well-educated white people residing in the west. As with most things white people ask me to do (sing a Selena song, let them touch my hair, share my eyeliner routine), I declined as graciously as possible, but the request continued. to haunt me and my DMs.

Was I being biased against Mexicans and Mexican food lovers on the west side of town? Was I the guardian of burrito culture in an ostensibly Chicano way, denying that any culturally significant food could come from anywhere outside the Mission? As a journalist, was I taking the easy way out and only reviewing burritos that I knew were unquestionably delicious and culturally significant?

With touring season fast approaching and my music education classes ramping up for the rest of the winter, I decided to take the plunge and get into this review before the only burritos I I would consume only be served by service stations 17 hours after my trip. across Texas.

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SFGATE’s burrito reviewer Cecilia Peña-Govea, aka La Doña, with friends Alyssa Aviles, left, and Ari Simon at Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.

Alexa Treviño / Special for SFGATE

The original Gordo Taqueria storefront opened at Clement Street and 24th Avenue in 1978. It now has six locations across the Bay Area, with its second most popular location at Ninth and Irving. Gordo’s exists primarily in burrito deserts, occupying the hearts and mouths of all non-Latinos hence we refer to “The Aves”, the endless, foggy, parking-sparse streets between the beach and the park that make up the Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods.

I attended SOTA (Ruth Asawa School of the Arts), so I spent much of my high school in the Aves, acculturating to the weather, bus routes 5 and 38, desolate public parks ( Golden Gate Park, Mountain Lake, Anza) and to my extremely enlightened white homies. Honestly, I hadn’t eaten at Gordo’s since my teens, when a burrito, a 40, and a blunt were my food for the day. I’d be lying if I said Gordo’s didn’t keep me alive for many rambunctious nights at ‘The Arb’ where we partied with the other public school friends/fiends.

SFGATE burrito reviewer Cecilia Peña-Govea, center, with friends Ari Simon, left, and Alyssa Aviles outside Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard in <a class=San Francisco.”/>

SFGATE burrito reviewer Cecilia Peña-Govea, center, with friends Ari Simon, left, and Alyssa Aviles outside Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.

Alexa Treviño / Special for SFGATE

For this review, I enlisted the expertise of two fellow Frisco natives, Ari Simon and Alyssa Aviles. Ari is one of the aforementioned extremely enlightened white homies, a third-generation San Franciscan who works as an artist director and product manager at Empire. Ari was born and raised in Gordo, so I thought his input would be crucial in capturing the channel’s nostalgic superpower and invited him as the western rep.

Alyssa is a fifth-generation San Franciscan and the brilliant creative artist behind Suavecita Press. Alyssa shares with me the experience of being one of the few brunette girls in 94110 who was swept west by a current of hyphy whites and is the perfect spirit to represent the east side.

Ari is one of the fearless runners on the pro-Gordo team and has been ordering his standard super chili verde burrito in a spinach tortilla with jalapeños since he was 13 and working at the comic book store in down the street. Even so, he admits that the Gordo’s burrito isn’t the best representative of burrito cuisine in town.

Cecilia Peña-Govea, right, dines with friends at Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.

Cecilia Peña-Govea, right, dines with friends at Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.

Alexa Treviño / Special for SFGATE

“If someone from out of town hits me like, ‘Ari, I’m coming to town; I know you all talk like crazy about your taquerias. Where are you taking me? … I’m not taking them to Gordo’s, lol, Ari said.

Still, he thinks Gordo’s is an institution for its “consistency and comfort.”

“If you’re a kid from Richmond or Sunset getting off the 38 bus after a long day, Gordo’s burrito will feel like a warm hug. Everytime. Burritos are seasoned with nostalgia,” Ari said.

“All that to say, it’s not the most fiery but it’s not completely cap, it does something good!” he said.

Cecilia Peña-Govea, left, eats with friends Alyssa Aviles, center, and Ari Simon in the dining room of Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.

Cecilia Peña-Govea, left, eats with friends Alyssa Aviles, center, and Ari Simon in the dining room of Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.

Alexa Treviño / Special for SFGATE

While the ease with which Ari acquiesced to the popular belief among members of my generation that Gordo is a bit in the middle surprised me, I was also surprised by the tenderness and nostalgia that permeated the review. ‘Alyssa.


“Gordo’s is a nostalgia vault that I like to visit when I need a familiar, comforting meal. I was raised in the Mission district, so while I certainly wouldn’t say Gordo is my go-to taqueria, there’s definitely something special about this cozy hideaway tucked away on the outskirts of town,” a- she said, remembering her stumbles. at Gordo’s after “vivid, hazy sunsets where the earth ends.”

As for the burrito, she has fond memories of the juicy pollo asado and the right ratio between the pico de gallo and the other ingredients, “maintaining a harmonious balance between the salty and the sour”, without any surprise vegetables like the peas or lettuce strips. . She couldn’t tell the difference between the flour and spinach tortilla when we visited, but believed it added a natural element to the meal – or maybe it was just the gust of ocean wind.

“Visit Gordo’s for a taste of youth and carelessness in San Francisco. Go after walking through the Sutro Baths, after a few punch bowls at Trad’r Sam or after venturing into the crevices of Golden Gate Park after dark,” Alyssa said.

SFGATE's burrito reviewer, Cecilia Peña-Govea, aka La Doña, orders food at Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard.

SFGATE’s burrito reviewer, Cecilia Peña-Govea, aka La Doña, orders food at Gordo Taqueria on Geary Boulevard.

Alexa Treviño / Special for SFGATE

Overall, Gordo’s provided a surprisingly delicious dining experience. We were greeted at the Geary location with curious and kind attitudes by the all-Latin staff, who worked with the skill and attention of any top-notch taqueria.

Our chili verde burritos with black beans in spinach tortillas (per Ari’s suggestion) came quickly and were all we needed after two shots each at a random Irish bar on Clement. Beans and rice were perfectly salty and fluffy. The chili verde was saucy but didn’t oversaturate the body of the meal. The cream was heavier, but who complains when you take the healthy route with the spinach tortilla (haha).

SFGATE burrito reviewer Cecilia Peña-Govea opens her burrito Gordo.

SFGATE burrito reviewer Cecilia Peña-Govea opens her burrito Gordo.

Alexa Treviño / Special for SFGATE

The salsas were below my favorite spiciness levels but flavorful, and the texture of the spinach tortilla was tougher than the regular tortilla, but it was worth the novelty of eating something so bright green. Unfortunately they don’t sell beer, but luckily these burritos are best enjoyed after drinking your beer in a freezing, public place like the grove of redwoods in the Golden Gate Park Arboretum.

I confess that I had despised Gordo’s, solely for my mistaken and invisibilizing notion that there are no Latins in Aves. I also admit to holding Mission burritos above those of other hoods in town. But after this examination, I undertake to upset the gastronomic hierarchy of my district. During late gentrification, fighting to uphold the principle that the best burrito comes from a place that has lost 40% of its Latinx residents is a fool’s game.

Despite my dedication to burrito drinking equity, it will probably be a few years before I return to Gordo’s for my next spinach burrito, but when I do I’ll be sure to reunite with Ari and Alyssa for another night out. . of fog, chili verde and maybe even a few 40s of Mickey.

La Doña will appear in Austin for SXSW 2022.

La Doña will appear in Austin for SXSW 2022.

Courtesy of La Dona

I’m off to play 10 gigs a day at South By Southwest, but I’ll leave you all with two songs and a music video until my next review. Check out the teaser for “Penas con Pan” below and stay tuned for the March 10th release of my double single “Penas con Pan” and “Down That Road”. Yeah yeah.

Upcoming concert dates in San Francisco

April 8 – Brava Theater

More SF burrito reviews


— I grew up on the burritos of El Metate in the Mission District of San Francisco. Do they still taste like home?

– On growing up in SF, and why the owner of La Taqueria doesn’t know what a Mission burrito is


About Dwaine Pinson

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