Ask the Critic: What Makes Good Guacamole?

I love sinking my teeth into perfectly ripe avocado. A single fruit, sliced up, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt, is one of my favorite lazy-girl snacks when I'm craving something luscious but too beat to actually cook. (I also do the same thing with good tomatoes from time to time.)

So that's the basis of good guacamole for me -- simple, just-mashed avocado with that silky but firm texture. I prefer it on the chunky side rather than completely creamy, and I like enough citrus to balance out the fattiness.

Gallo Blanco's version really appeals to me these days, with its fresh cilantro, tangy lime juice, and slight saltiness. I'm always the one who suggests ordering it, and I'm always the one who hogs it all. Probably better to get two orders if you go with me . . .

Chakra 4's version. called "nutty rawvocado dip," sounds new-agey, but it's still chunky guac with a fragrant citrus note. What sets it apart is walnuts, pepitas, and sunflower seeds -- so scrumptious.

Last time I had Barrio Cafe's famous guacamole, it wasn't made tableside (which the restaurant is known for), although it was clearly just-made. Maybe they were too busy that day? I'm not sure, but they still add pomegranate seed to it, which gives it juicy tartness.

The Mission's tableside guac really was presented tableside on my last visit, and I loved how the server offered to customize it for me, adding in a little extra chopped chile until I said "when."

And then there's the straightforward guacamole at Tradiciones, another rendition that always tastes fresh and bright, with ripe bits of avocado that make it easy to pile on a chip. The chips there are inevitably hot out of the fryer, and if you manage to eat them all (yes, I'm guilty as charged), they'll always bring more.

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