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Mission District Restaurants

I'll be visiting San Fran soon and would like to find "the best" place for mexican food -- there is an ovo-lacto vegetarian in the group.

Any suggestions would be helpful! Thanks...

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  1. There is a strong contrast between the content of your post and the title, as Mission District Burritos are not Mexican food.

    So I'll just ignore the content of your post and focus on the title and say that if price and size are not an issue, go to La Taqueria., for the classic Mission style burrito, go to Taqueria Cancun,

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    Taqueria Cancun
    2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    La Taqueria
    2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    23 Replies
    1. re: vulber

      Please explain the difference - I'm from New York and include burritos as mexican food -- thanks! :)

      1. re: dmj109

        The long skinny burritos you find in Mexico are completely different to the beans, rice, guac, sour cream, kitchen sink-filled burritos that were initiated on Mission Street in San Francisco.

        If you are looking for more than Mission style burritos and tacos, I would recommend Poc Chuc for some down-home yucatan cuisine.

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

        1. re: Civil Bear

          La Taqueria has that style of burrito.

          And to be technical (sorry!), the founding of the Mission Burrito is credited either to El Faro or La Cumbre, neither of which are/were on Mission Street

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          La Taqueria
          2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          La Cumbre
          28 N B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

          El Faro Restaurant
          82 1st St, San Francisco, CA 94105

          1. re: vulber

            having grown up on 20th street, I always thought of The Mission as a neighborhood around Mission Dolores, rather than the street

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            Mission Dolores
            3321 16th St, San Francisco, CA

            1. re: chuckl

              I absolutely agree, it's jsut that hte comment reference dMission Street

            2. re: vulber

              La Cumbre's carne asada burritos are just as I remember them.

              Poc Chuc says their amazing black beans are vegetarian.

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              La Cumbre
              28 N B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

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

              1. re: vulber

                Mea culpa, I meant to say the Mission District rather than Mission Street.

                And no, you will not readily find La Taquaria burritos in Mexico.

              2. re: Civil Bear

                There's a slight level of hocus pocus here. On a casual level around here, one might say "I'm in the mood for mexican" and get a burrito, even though all the comments here are correct about burritos being unknown in mexico.

                The tacos found here-abouts are very close to the tacos you will find in mexico [disputed on this board, but I've had tacos just like that in mexico].

                Thus, you will find references to Taco trucks and Taco crawls, and people get a little more excited about tacos. (cf: El Taquistador) To taste the brilliance of the meat, and sample many in one sitting, go tacos.

                Further - there are San Diego style burritos, and recent discussions about where to get SD style in SF. Something about fries in your burrito. Chimichungas are a bit more so-cal as well, but you can find them here and there up north.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  There's only one SD-style burrito place in the Mission (Los Coyotes) and I was less than impressed.

                  The tacos at the best burrito places are just all right though, for quality tacos, I'd go with Vallarta, whose burritos aren't anythign worth going out of the way for

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                  Vallarta Restaurant
                  14366 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94578

            3. re: vulber

              For a classic Mission-style burrito, what meat would you choose at Taqureia Cancun, vulber?
              I tried Cancun's al pastor burrito, and a couple bites of my friend's carnitas burrito.

              I realize al pastor isn't a "classic" filling (but I like al pastor tacos, and so I gave it a try, regardless of authenticity), and the carnitas tasted more like soft pulled pork than rather than crispy carnitas. I wasn't in the mood for trying the brains or tongue, and was wary of tough carne asada, since I experienced some tough beef tacos in LA the previous week.

              What meat would you or other CHs choose to order at Cancun? Or should I have tried the veggie?

              1. re: phoenikia

                carne asada. chicken is good too

                1. re: vulber

                  Ok, good to know. Will try carne asada or chicken next time. Thanks!

                2. re: phoenikia

                  I'm a fan of the al pastor burrito. If not that, the quesadilla suiza (with carne asada) and veggie burrito are good. Many think the veggie burrito is among the best. The grilled green onions (cebollitas) are great too.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    ML 8000, are the cebollitas at Cancun grilled whole to a nice char and sweet, and do they look like regular green onions on steroids? I've been looking for them done like that!

                    1. re: grayelf

                      TC uses regular sized green onions, not the giant (Italian?) ones. Usually they have a nice char on the top end and are fully cooked, so they're sweet. I think they're .50c, or were. Since it's so cheap, worth a try.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        Nice! Deffo on the Mission Madness list for Nov 7 :-).

                        1. re: grayelf

                          hate to be a spoilsport, but i have to add my two cents here.... TC in the Mission is my least favorite taqueria of them all. The ONLY thing I've ever liked there is carne asada tacos. everything else is blah. I've heard the other TCs (Bernal - really still Mission area-ish - and downtown, on Market) have better food overall, but it's been so few and far between that I go I can't compare. i know i'm in the minority on this one....

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            El Toro over Cancun? I'll eat an El Toro burrito, no problem but the food is on the bland side even with salsa. It's like Chipotle and yet I understand its appeal...someone has to serve a giant burrito in a spinach tortilla with black beans, guac and sour cream.

                            Seriously, if you want to try something at Cancun that you might like, try the quesadilla suiza with carne asada...but eat it there. Since it has metled cheese and it's been on the griddle, it doesn't travel well.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              that's sadly not the el Toro I remember it was nice and garlicky and back then none of that stuff like spinach tortilla (which I don't hate), crema or rather queso fresco not sour cream and more of an avocado mash than a guac.

                              but to the OP there are tons of taquerias that are great, and it's hard to go wrong (there are variations and I've seen close to fist fights erupt).but if you're going by what anywhere else in the country claims to be a "SF style Burrito" you'll be very pleasantly surprised and think the folks pushing it back home are largely full of "it". stick to the cafeteria line style and have your meat and bean prefs ready for the counter staff.

                              1. re: hill food

                                They still serve some garlicy stuff, like the shrimp plate, but you'll have to verify. Just to be clear, I agree you'll be able to find a good taqueria in SF because of sheer numbers and everyone has their favorites.

                                ETA: actually their sister resturant Pancho Villa serves the shrimp plate. I'm not sure if El Toro does. I walked by a couple of months ago and El Toro looks like it was remodelled or updated...don't know about the food. Use to work at 18th and Val so I ate at a lot of those places around there.

                              2. re: ML8000

                                blandness is what i think of when i eat at Cancun! i too, like Hill Food, remember El Toro being garlicky and spicy, but i haven't been there in awhile. My BF likes Cancun, and since I do like their carne asada tacos (the only thing i like there), that's where we usually go. everything else i've had at Cancun tastes dirty to me. dirty but bland. thank god there are dozens of taquerias in the Mission to appeal to everyone's wildly diverse tastes.

                                -----
                                El Toro
                                113 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                  What exactly does "dirty" taste like?

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    Like chicken heated up the next day. not that i eat chicken at Cancun. just not very fresh. To me.

                3. The title says Mission District Restaurants - or did it say Burritos at one point??

                  If you want something other than a taqueria or burrito place, you can try Poc Chuc, which is the best of what we have for Mexican food, but not "typical" of California Mexican - it's Mayan influenced. There's another Mayan restaurant, on 21st and Folsom, maybe? Can't remember the name, but it was reviewed favorably here. There is also The Velvet Cantina, which serves "upper-scale" Mexican. And then there is Puerto Allegre - which has good - NOT GREAT - Mexican food - i.e., enchiladas, chile verde, chili rellenos, etc. These are all in the Mission District. On 24th street, between Mission Street and Potrero, a very colorful area of the Mission District, there are a variety of Mexican restaurants that may also be taquerias, or, just more casual: Taqueria Vallarta, Roosevelt Tamale Parlor, for example. I can only highly recommend Poc Chuc. I like Puerto Vallerta a lot, but I like the ambience (casual), the margaritas, and the guac. Like i said, good food, not fantastic.

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                  Taqueria Vallarta
                  3033 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Velvet Cantina
                  3349 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                  Roosevelt Tamale Parlor
                  2817 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: wolfe

                      And Pastores down further down on Mission street. Smaller place, simple menu, but very good home-style Mexican food.

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                      Pastores Restaurant
                      3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      1. re: Calvinist

                        That's considered Bernal, but close enough. That place has odd hours, tho, i think ... i haven't been able to try it yet.

                  1. If you want "real" Mexican food, just order a taco or torta at a taqueria. They won't be exactly like Mexico but they're not the much debated Mission burrito.

                    That said, I'm a fan of the Mission burrito. From my POV, the Mission burrito is simply a regional variation. California was once part of Mexico and given we still share a border, I'm not even going get into the authentic argument.

                    About the "best", that's even a bigger question since everyone has a preference and every taqueria has a specialty. The better question might be the most popular or the usual suspects. The usual suspects, imo, are: La Taqueria, Taqueria Cancun, El Farolito, La Cumbre and at least 5 more I can't name off the top of my head.

                    1. El Farolito at 24th and Mission is my favorite, mainly for the enormous Chile relleno burritos!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hakushi

                        Is anyone following the Chow Tour in the upper right hand corner?
                        http://www.chow.com/blog/2010/07/the-...

                        1. re: wolfe

                          La Taqueria!!

                          -----
                          La Taqueria
                          2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      2. I think you are asking for Mexican food recommendations in the Mission, apologies if I am misreading your request.

                        Tortas -- I think the best are at Tortas Los Picudos. I've eaten pretty much every sandwich here, and everything has been solid to outstanding. I like milanesa de res or pescado. Tortas El Primo is also good.

                        Carne Asada -- My longtime favorite for carne asada is El Farolito, but the other day, three friends and I ate carne asada burritos from four different places, El Farolito, Papalote, El Metate, and La Taqueria. Three out of four preferred Papalote, a place I usually never go. I will say that I preferred El Farolito, but the carne asada from Papalote was actually pretty delicious, thicker cuts of steak, cooked medium, and then cut up. The unanimous loser of the bunch was La Taqueria, with a steak that was almost too tender (mushy) and flavorless. I eat at La Taqueria on a somewhat regular basis, and I think that our experience was not an anomaly, I'm not a fan of their carne asada (though people with good taste will disagree).

                        Carnitas -- I really, really like El Taco Loco #2. La Taqueria also does very good carnitas, a taco dorado with avocado is the way to do it. El Metate and Guadalajara are also good.

                        Al Pastor -- Again, I like El Taco Loco #2. San Jose is decent, as is La Altena (this is one of the few things I like at La Altena).

                        Chile Verde -- El Metate and La Palma. On many occasions I will buy a quart of chile verde from La Palma and make that a couple meals on the weekend.

                        Burritos -- So this has been mostly talk about different meats, but different places have different burrito styles. Again, I'm an El Farolito loyalist, and I like the way they add in a ton of cheese to make an almost quesadilla like burrito. La Taqueria does not add rice (I'm indifferent), and they also steam their tortillas (I do not like this, makes the burrito mushy and gummy). Most places grill tortillas, but I am always wary of those that steam. Personal issue.

                        Plates -- I separate out in my mind taquerias and places with plates of Mexican food. Besides the mentioned Poc Chuc and Pastores, I think El Delfin is great. I love the mole there, as well as the salsa verde that they use for enchilladas and chilaquilles. Chava's has some good soups and breakfast dishes.

                        One place I have never been and gets a lot of good press here and elsewhere is La Oaxaquena. I always walk by it, maybe I'll go today for dinner.

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                        La Taqueria
                        2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                        Altena Restaurant
                        3346 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        Pastores Restaurant
                        3486 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

                        Tortas Los Picudos
                        2969 24th St, San Francisco, CA

                        El Metate Restaurant
                        2406 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA

                        La Oaxaquena
                        2128 Mission St, San Francisco, CA

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: david de berkeley

                          That is a handy roundup, david, I've cut and pasted it into my big list. I hope you have better luck at La Oax than we did last time. I think it might have some consistency issues.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            yep, i didn't like La Oaxquena either. and I'm one who will respectfully disagree about La Taqueria's carne asada - it's my favorite. I always find it perfectly cooked and very flavorful. but i only get it in tacos, never burritos. (i just don't eat burritos.)

                            -----
                            La Taqueria
                            2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              I'll second La Taqueria's carne asada. There and La Corneta are my favorites.

                              -----
                              La Taqueria
                              2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              La Corneta
                              1147 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070

                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                I used to think La Taqueria was great, but I had an asada taco the other day and a lengua and both were just ok. and WAY more than many other places. No one mentioned Pancho Villa that,while over crowded, often makes a good taco. Across the street from them is a place we like a lot...they have Chivo and other yummy stews...can't remember the name but it is just across and a little closer to mission. last time we had al pastor at cancun, it tasted pretty much like a sloppy joe. i do find that each place makes one good thing and not everything good. i've had some success on int'l blvd recently and with a couple of taco trucks...but that's a subject off this thread....

                                -----
                                La Taqueria
                                2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                Pancho Villa
                                365 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                1. re: rebonga

                                  Gonna have to disagree with you on both counts, I've found Pancho Villa's meat to be mostly bland (weirdly enough, their sister restaurant El Toro on Valencia/17th is noticeably better); the place you are thinking of across the street is Los Coyotes, which, while having hte distinction of being the only place in the mission serving California Burritos and Carne Asada fries, uses very low-quality meats and/or not very fresh ingredients, not surprising giving the massive size of their menu

                                  -----
                                  Pancho Villa
                                  365 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                  El Toro
                                  113 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                                  1. re: vulber

                                    me too. love love love La Taqueria, and especially carne asada. although i do like pancho villa as a second choice. i always find the meat at LT excellently flavored, albeit more expensive.

                                    -----
                                    La Taqueria
                                    2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    1. re: vulber

                                      well actually i have to admit i haven't been to pancho villa's in awhile...and the one thing we used to really like was the camarones al chile del arbol...which has nothing to do w/carne of any kind...but i remember talking (spanish) with the guy cooking up the shrimp and he was doing things specially for me...which could also have something to do with it...

                                      the lengua at la taqueria was the really not so satisfactory one...but i had some carne asada at picante in berkeley (not a place i go to often) and it was rare and juicy and much better than LT....

                                      1. re: vulber

                                        was waiting for someone to mention el Toro, I loved/lived on their Carne Asada Burrito when I lived around the corner. but it was a million and two years ago.

                              2. re: david de berkeley

                                La Oaxaquena has delicious banana leaf chicken tamal swimming in very strong mole negro. Good value. I have not found better but have not really looked around. Mole enchilada good as well. However, their jamaica drink was subpar. Good spot for cappuccino or chocolate also.

                                1. re: rotiprata

                                  I've eaten food from La Oax a whopping three times so YMMV but we liked the chilaquiles very much (just don't bother with the bland chicken). The hot chocolate was tasty and a huge portion (good for four people). Their aguas do seem to be supbar based on the three we tried on two visits. The tlayuda we had was massive but pedestrian with a leathery "tostada" and the sopes were just bad as reported by others. The only other dish that was good was the pupusas which are not even Mexican, let alone Oaxacan. The prior trip we also got one of each kind of tamal to go, and the banana leaf wrapped one was gummy and virtually inedible, though we tried it within a half hour of ordering. The corn husk one was much better.

                                  1. re: rotiprata

                                    I had the banana leaf chicken mole tamal at La Oaxaquena last Sunday. I loved the flavor of the masa, and there was a lot of chicken inside, but the "mole" was almost missing in action. A significant part of the chicken had no mole sauce on it at all and, where the mole was present it was so sparse and mildly flavored it didn't add much at all to the tamal. I really want to like this place, but...

                                    The very gracious staff person told me they had two cooks, one from Oaxaca and one from El Salvador, hence the pupusas. I haven't tried them yet.

                                    -----
                                    El Salvador Restaurant
                                    2278 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    La Oaxaquena
                                    2128 Mission St, San Francisco, CA

                                  2. re: david de berkeley

                                    At El Delfin yesterday they had a special (waitress didn't mention it until I started asking questions about what was good) of pork chops in "almond mole." When it came to the table smothered in heavy dark brown sauce my heart sank, but this was one of the best mole sauces I've ever had -- complex layers of flavors (something slightly fruity/tomatoey upfront, a hit of chocolate in the middle and almond on the finish) but not nearly as heavy as it appeared. Has anyone tried the mole verde there?

                                    Note also that El Delfin is just a short stroll from Humphrey Slocombe for dessert.

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

                                    1. re: david de berkeley

                                      I definitely vote for La Oaxaquena. Very good and interesting food.

                                      -----
                                      La Oaxaquena
                                      2128 Mission St, San Francisco, CA

                                    2. Not in Mission District but the Ferry building on Saturday is worth a visit. for breakfast/brunch Can recommend the chilaquiles with local organic srambled eggs, refried beans, sour cream, avocado, queso cotija, white onion and cilantro (I declined the corn chips) at Primavera on Sat am at the Ferry building. A family from Guadalajara attending their daughter's graduation from chef school who sat next to us at the Ferry building said it was the real deal. We were there about 8:15 and the lines were short.

                                      1. Save room for dessert @ Humphry Slocombe (Harrison and 24th Street)
                                        I just had a few days in SF - that place is incredible. And located in close proximity to some pretty nice tamales.

                                        -----
                                        Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
                                        2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: pitu

                                          for tamales, would strongly recommend la palma if open

                                        2. Surprised that no one mentioned Gracias Madre. In addition to the great burritos in the Mission, a meal here will be a special treat for your veggie friend.

                                          -----
                                          Gracias Madre
                                          2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110