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Mexican Food in the Bay Area

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I'm after recommendations for Mexican places (lunch or dinner) in the Bay area

I'll be staying at the Palace, and won't have a car

I'm after Mexican food while I'm in SF because it's generally so awful in Australia

High end or cheap'n'cheerful suggestions all welcomed. Taco trucks or buses too

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  1. I highly recommend Nopalito for a nice lunch or dinner, more high end because it is not cheap but casual dining. Cab fare each way about 7.00-9.00 each way.

    306 Broderick St, San Francisco, CA

    1. Your best bet is to get on BART and visit may of the taquerias on Mission Street between the 16th & 24th Street stops. A quick search of the database for places like La Taqueria, Taqueria San Jose, El Farlo, and La Cornetta will give you more information than you could ever dream of.

      For slightly more home cooking type fair, I like Poc Chuc just off the 16th Street stop, and El Defin for great shrimp dishes off of the 24th Street stop.

      El Delfin
      3066 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Poc Chuc
      2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      1. Definately head for the Mission. Poc Chuc is a great idea for Yucatan food. Here are some other ideas

        SF Mission burritos & tacos

        SF - Munching in the Mission

        SF Mission Murals and Antojitos Walk

        1. Within walking distance of the Palace is Taqueria Cancun at 6th and Market. Hole-in-the-wall, cheap and very good. The al pastor burrito is excellent and like $5 bucks. Eat there if you can, the toasted tortilla is way better warm...like bread on a sandwich the tortilla makes a big difference.

          The other option is Los Compadres Taco Truck at Spear and Folsom, not too far away...pretty heavy lunch crowd.

          The other lists/threads provide a lot of info as well but these are w/i easy walking distance.

          Taqueria Cancun
          1003 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          Los Compadres Taco Truck
          292 Spear St, San Francisco, CA

          1. If you have some time to kill, take BART to Fruitvale. It's like being teleported to Mexico, especially on weekend mornings and afternoons. Virtually all the signs are in Spanish and everybody's speaking Spanish. There's some of that in the Mission, but it's a lot more diverse.

            In the Mission, try an al pastor taco at Taqueria San Jose.

            1. How long would it take to walk to Poc Chuc from the Palace? I'm guessing 15-20 mins

              And I'm going to have a thorough look at all these places on the web then come back with loads more questions

              The day I've set aside to eat Mexican is a Sunday (Aug 9th), so maybe going to Fruitvale is a good idea

              Many thanks!

              8 Replies
              1. re: Onara

                Take a bus It isn't an attractive or scenic walk. Your walking time would be better spent walking up Mission to 24th from Poc Chuc

                The Palace Hotel is right next to a BART station which takes you under the Bay to the Fruitvale BART station. There's a terrific Mexican artisan ice cream maker there (for little more than $1 a scoop) and a churro maker. About a block away is one of the best agua fresca trucks and almost across the street is a truck with the best carnitas tacos.

                If you go early on Sunday morning there will be a lot of tamale vendors that only show up early on the weekends.

                This is a start, but if you are serious about Fruitvale there was a really good thread with followup from last year that I'll try to find.

                Oakland Taco Trucks

                Hmmm ... thinking about it the underground muni train at the BART station near the hotel takes you right to 16th Street in SF and a few blocks from Poc Chuc ... or you could go to the 24th St station and walk back to Poc Chuc.

                1. re: Onara

                  Type maps.google.com, put in the endpoints and compare "transit" vs "walking".

                  There's a saying around my house: "the power of AND". You don't have to choose between the two.

                  It's 15 minutes via BART to fruitvale. Enjoy the area, give yourself some crawl - say an hour. Get back on bart and go all the way to the mission (about 30 minutes) - there's more *things* in the mission, like the actual mission, some parks, bakeries, record stores. As the light starts failing, you can enjoy the mission bars, which are youthful, loud, and lots of live music. Do it until you don't enjoy it no mo'.

                  If you're really going to spend the afternoon, start in fruitvale and do both! Most people don't make it out to oakland; you'll be doing something cool and unusual.

                  As RW says, it's a pretty ugly walk from round the embarcadero to the mission, unless you enjoy the smell of pee and the undersides of freeways.

                  And hit Slocolm ice cream on the south end of the mission walk as your non-mexican treat.

                  Have a great trip!

                  (ps. I have no idea which muni station RW is recommending. There are a *lot* of transit options though.)

                  1. re: Onara

                    The average person walks 3 to 4 mph, since Poc Chuc is about 14 blocks from the Palace, that means it's almost 1.5 miles from the Palace. At 3 mph, it would take someone about 30 mins for the walk, so you're probably right, 20 mins should be enough for one to make the trip, good estimation...

                    1. re: hankstramm

                      16th Street is much further from the Palace than the numbers would indicate--I am assuming that since it is near 2nd Street, that is where the 14 blocks estimate comes from. But those blocks are looooong blocks when running east-west. I am guessing that is closer to a three mile walk than one and a half miles, and would take much longer than 20 minutes, not to mention passage through some relatively unsavory streets, especially for a visitor. Great way to work up an appetite, though!

                      1. re: Leadbelly

                        Split the difference, Google map walking 2.1 miles.

                    2. re: Onara

                      Be aware that Poc Chuc isn't open for dinner on Sundays, only lunch. The best route there from the Palace is BART to 16th Street, which is two blocks west of the restaurant. Don't mess with MUNI if you don't have to.

                      Fruitvale is fun, and the food is fine, but it's more like half an hour from Montgomery BART. Montgomery to 16th Street is three stops--5 minutes.


                      I do agree about not walking. If you want to see what you're missing, take one of the Mission Street buses instead of BART. It's not pretty.

                      1. re: Windy

                        Yeah, have to agree, nothing to miss by taking BART. I walk just cause I avoid BART and MUNI unless absolutely necessary since they are thieves...

                      2. re: Onara

                        Walking would take at least 45 minutes, but you'd probably have more fun taking BART or a vintage streetcar and then walking around the Mission after lunch, particularly Valencia Street. It's an international foodie paradise and also rife with hipster shops and bars.

                        But for a strictly Mexican experience, you can't beat Fruitvale.

                      3. Check out Colibri - had a great ceviche there earlier tonight!

                        Only a few blocks from the palace hotel - a sit down, nicer fine dining place. Certainly still on the cheaper side though.
                        They've got wonderful drinks as well!


                        Colibri Mexican Bistro
                        438 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: beatricechefinthecity

                          Nothing against Colibri, but while its prices are moderate compared with similarly upscale SF restaurants, it's relatively expensive compared with typical Mexican places in the Mission and Fruitvale.

                          You can get a decent sitdown Mexican breakfast, lunch, or dinner weekdays 7am-8pm not too far from the Palace at Órale Órale.

                          Orale Orale
                          91 Drumm St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        2. Fully concur with Mr Lauriston. Fruitvale is a part of town that doesn't get many tourists, but that's why I recommend it. It's just fine during the day - all those news reports are at night. This is an "authentic" area will either excite you or scare you away.

                          So I will suggest again: check into your hotel. grab bart over to fruitvale. Poke around for an hour or so. Hop bart back to the mission. crawl some taquerias. Get an afternoon snooze in the park (dolores park gets a lot of sunbathing action on a sunday). Eat more. Drink. Catch some live music. Take a taxi or bus (14 mission is very frequent, runs straight down mission to the palace hotel and I think runs all night)

                          I was walking near Humphrey Slocolmbe this afternoon and ran into a small crowd of walking tour tourists (there's a very nice mural alley right near there). The mission is a destination - fruitvale is far more interesting, but it's true you have to be into that sort of thing.

                          Just have your wits about you and don't do anything dumb. Try to pick up a little spanish while you're there!

                          1. If you're staying at the Palace, I recommend Mijita in the Ferry Building.

                            1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94111

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: scarmoza

                              I've had some dishes I liked there, but there was always something off about their tortillas.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                As a fellow tourist, I love the Mission and we manage to go there every trip but we had such a great time in Fruitvale last November I'm going to be unladylike and post a link to my report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/571843

                                FYI we left from Powell Street station and as mentioned in the link, it only took 20 mins to get there.

                                I'm guessing it would be even more fun with more things open/available on a Sunday and as bbulkow suggested you could head to the Mission for the afty if you go to Fruitvale in the morning.

                                You're getting so many great recs here that you will have loads to choose from but let me FWIW mention that I would take a pass on Colibri and seek out the other spots such as Poc Chuc for a sitdown dinner (although I see upthread it is not open on Sunday evenings it would be worth checking out another night if you're really jonesing for interesting (Yucatecan) well prepared and great value grub. We didn't hate Colibri but compared to the other options... I'll shut up now.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  Thank you, thank you. That was the report I was thinking about.

                            2. I may get reamed for this but.. try Chipolte.

                              Yes its a chain.. but a damn good chain if you are looking to get a burrito or tacos.

                              I am pretty sure you don't have Chipotle in Australia so I suggest checking it out. And I suggest getting the guacamole and tortilla chips.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: nhbalex

                                There is one very close to the Palace too.

                                1. re: nhbalex

                                  Chipotle is okay if there's nothing else around but if you're in California the likelihood of something else being around that's better yet less expensive is pretty high. They get kudos for using quality ingredients but their stuff is on the bland side.

                                  1. re: nhbalex

                                    Chipotle isn't *bad*, but it is a 840 restaurant chain, founded partially by McDonalds.

                                    To *recommend* a visitor with limited meals goes there - by implication, instead of going to the mission or fruitvale - that's just wrong.

                                    Here's a note about their attempts to bring local sourcing to the fast food industry that I found interesting:

                                    1. re: nhbalex

                                      Yes, try Chipolte if you want to travel half way around the wold for the most bland burrito you can find. Perhaps the OP should hit up Chevy's too. It is much closer than going out to the Mission.

                                      1. re: Civil Bear

                                        I personally enjoy Chipotle.. i do add the Tabasco brand Chipotle sauce on all my food items but on its own the carnitas and chicken options are just as good.

                                        As far as chains.. In-N-Out is a chain as well.. but we like to take our out-of-towners there. I personally would rather go to Chipotle than Chevys any day of the week.

                                        For me, most taquerias are hit or miss.. I am not saying pass up the ones suggested.. but if you are looking for a burrito place.. check out Chipotle.