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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If You Thought a Carnitas Burrito Was Filling, Wait'll You Taste the Kalua Pork Version

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM

The Hawaiian burrito: Just as lumpy-looking as the original.
  • The Hawaiian burrito: Just as lumpy-looking as the original.
There's a special place in the firmament for restaurants that do side-by-side cuisine: Not Chinese doughnuts, say, but Chinese Food and Donuts; not Burmese curry turkey sandwiches, but Burmese Kitchen and Larkin Deli. In the early part of this decade, there was a German-Mexican restaurant in Contra Costa County with side-by-side menus cooked by a husband-wife team, but it proved too short-lived to try out.

Which is why the brakes screamed carpe diem! when a sign reading "Hawaiian-Mexican food" was spotted hanging in the window of Taqueria El Sol (warning: turn your speakers down before you click), located on the corner of 19th Ave. and Taraval. For better and worse, it's a taqueria, with a separate Hawaiian plate-lunch menu, that also serves all-American breakfasts late into the night (4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). There is only one area of the menu where the three cultures meet, and fittingly, it is the burrito.

Unlike the poor, defenseless chalupa and the chimichanga, screwed up beyond redemption, the burrito can take a serious knock to culinary tradition and still taste good edible. (You think the tofu ranchero burrito with black beans

and a spinach flour tortilla you ordered at Pancho Villa last week is Mexican Mexican?) I thought that L.A.'s pastrami burrito was as far as anyone dared push the form until I met Taqueria El Sol's kalua pork burrito. There's not much to tell beyond the obvious: It's a super burrito. Stuffed with sour cream, lots of rice and beans, and a couple tablespoons of tomato salsa. Oh, and a half-pound of pulled pork.

It seems fitting that the slow-roasted, shredded meat, seasoned with soy sauce and liquid smoke, would fit in with beans and rice. If Taqueria El Sol's kalua-pork burrito isn't very good, it's not because the concept is faulty. In fact, the burrito pictured above ended up eviscerated on its crinkly tinfoil sheet, picked clean of all pork. And my feelings toward the kalua pork burrito didn't rule out the possibility of returning some morning in the future to taste what happens when the restaurant one-ups itself:

It's called an Aloha breakfast burrito, and it contains scrambled eggs, hash browns, sour cream, pineapple salsa, and Spam.

Taqueria El Sol 901 Taraval (at 19th Ave.), 661-3303

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Jonathan Kauffman


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