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Best Authentic Mexican

We'll be in Cow Hollow, but anywhere in the city is welcome. I was told by hounders in New York City, where we're from, that San Fran has better Mexican food than we do. We were in San Fran at the beginning of our vacation two weeks ago, and we tried two different places but were underwhelmed. We'll be back this Sunday to fly out Tuesday, so we'd like to give the Bay area one more chance. We're looking for authentic, straight-forward food to make us change our minds about which coast does Mexican better.

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  1. Where did you eat already?

    1. Poc Chuc for authentic Mayan home cooking. If you can do better in NYC, then power to you.

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

      1. Authentic Mexican from Mexico, or authentic San Francisco Mexican? Mission burritos are authentic San Francisco Mexican, and probably better than anything comparable in NY (not sure if Mission burritos even exist in NY), but they don't correspond to "authentic" Mexican food from Mexico. For that matter, Mexico has a variety of different cuisines, and the cuisine characterized as "Mexican" in the United States normally represents a US take on one particular regional Mexican cuisine.

        I'm not familiar with NY Mexican food, but if you're looking for something SF does better than NY, my guess is you'd be better off at a taqueria in the Mission. My personal favorite is the al pastor super burrito at Taqueria El Farolito. You can search "burritos" on this board and find multiple recommendations. Note that the Mission taquerias tend to be relatively cheap ($10 or less) and they're probably not the right places if you're looking for a white tablecloth experience.
        But definitely authentic San Francisco.

        El Farolito is at 2779 Mission St., which is literally next door to the 24th St. BART station.

        1. If you like regional cuisine La Oaxaqueña Bakery and Restaurant at 2128 Mission is excellent; the moles are wonderful.

          I also like the Velvet Cantina for more traditional mexican,

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

          1. I have never been especially overwhelmed by the Mexican places in the SF area, though of course, "johnq" is right regarding his question; "Authentic Mexican from Mexico, or authentic San Francisco Mexican?"

            Taquerias (for example) outside the Mission (and I understand outside of a few places in San Jose) tend to be limited to the pollo assado, pastor, carne assada, and maybe a fish choice for fillings for burritos, etc.

            Now, as far as which coast does Mexican better, well be careful :-), virtually everyone I know from L.A. would probably agree that the S.F. area is hardly the place to claim the best Mexican food on the west coast.

            1. "Authentic" can be as subjective as "the best."

              There are lots of choices of Mexican food outside of the SF Mission area, like Nopalito ( http://www.7x7.com/eat-drink/impulse-... ) or MexicoDF (http://www.mex-df.com/), or San Jalisco (formerly Los Jarritos) (http://www.sanjalisco.com/), depending on your atmosphere/neighborhood/budget $-$$$/beverage desires.

              Primavera at the Sat. Ferry Building Farmer's Market is great (if you can stand the line) and, if not, Mijita has simple and tasty food (http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.c...) albeit priced higher than a Mission taqueria.

              Or to feel like you really are in Mexico, take BART to Fruitvale in Oakland, where you can trace the steps of another recent taco crawl (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7287...).

              1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94111

              1. I'd have to say two of my favorite spots are, La Torta Gorda on 24th St. near Bryant which makes authentic freshly made quesadillas, huaraches etc. using all the ingredients that you find in Mexico but not so often in Bay Area restaurants. I'm refering to fresh huitlacoche, epazote, squash flowers.....I can't say enough good about this place.
                I also really like the tacos at Metate on Bryant and 24th Sts. which has extrodinaryly good carnitas, salsas and a great atmosphere.

                La Torta Gorda
                2833 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1 Reply
                1. re: dzime

                  Sorry to post to an old thread, but just spotted it. Perhaps this is one of those things that show how fickle human taste can be. La Torta Gorda is one of my favorites. I tried Metate a couple of times and wasn't impressed. I took the food to-go at El Metate (was that a fatal flaw?).

                  El Metate Restaurant
                  2406 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA

                  La Torta Gorda
                  2833 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                2. San Fran... really?

                  Try Taqueria Cancun at 1003 Market street. Fantastic burritos and better than the Mission St location for sure.

                  Even the taco truck by Best Buy has got to better than anything in New York. I poked my head into a couple places in Manhattan, and just kept on walking. They just didn't look right.


                  Taqueria Cancun
                  2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  1. I too am no expert on Mexican in NY. But go to Nopalito and try the carnitas or anything else for that matter if you are looking for a more sophisticated approach. I would put another vote in for poc chuc as well. If you are looking for more American style, ie loads of orange cheese, there is always Tia Margaritas or Peurto Allegre', both much more palatable after a pitcher of Margaritas.

                    1. Thanks for all the responses. I don't remember the places I ate right now, but one was in the Mission and the other was on Haight.. By authentic Mexican, I'm not sure what I mean. I guess the tastiest San Fran has to offer, be it SF-exican or genuine regional Mexican. I'm guessing I'm not looking for upscale, because the best places of this sort tend to be hideaways, but I could be wrong. We're also not looking for a bar. The best guideline I can give, as trespinero alluded to, if there's any orange cheddar cheese anywhere within three blocks of the place, it's probably not what I'm looking for. That said, it looks like I have a few to choose from here. Thanks again.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: douglas525

                        I think you need to explore NY a bit more since there are a lot of recent immigrants from Mexico, particularly Puebla, in the New York City area and I bet their food beats a lot of what you will find here. Food from Puebla is some of the best in Mexico and it is not represented here in the Bay Area.

                        1. re: Mari

                          Funny. I actually think food at a place called Puebla in the East Village is some of the best Mexican I've ever had. But someone else told me on the NYC board that it was just par compared to what he ate in SF. I've done a lot of exploring around NYC, and that, along with Chavella's in Brooklyn, are great to me. Anyway, I'm really just looking for the best SF has to offer with this cuisine.

                          1. re: douglas525

                            I'm an SF-transplant in NYC & have eaten at Puebla & Chavellas so think I get a sense of what you're after. (Although I think La Superior in Williamsburg is better than both, and a taco crawl in Sunset Park is probably in order for you!)

                            In SF, I'd definitely do a super veggie burrito at Taqueria Cancun for an "authentic" SF mission burrito. I think Farolito is over-rated and while La Taqueria has great carnitas, other things are lackluster. My favorite tacos & burritos are down the peninsula in Mountain View at La Bamba, but if you're willing to travel just a little bit, I'd head to International Blvd and/or Fruitvale Ave in Oakland. The following truck have some devoted followings:
                            -El Gordo (4201 Intl blvd)
                            -El Grullo (Foothill Blvd at High St)
                            -El Novilla Taco Truck (1001 Fruitvale Ave)
                            -Taqueria Sinaloa (2138 Intl Blvd)

                            It's a good idea to buy a variety of tacos at each & see what strikes your fancy.

                            Taqueria Cancun
                            2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            La Taqueria
                            2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            La Bamba
                            2058 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, CA 94043

                          2. re: Mari

                            I don't know if this counts but when we were at La Torta Gorda in March 09 they had comida poblana, including mole, in the house. Hope it is still there as we didn't have enough stomach space to sample any of these dishes...

                            La Torta Gorda
                            2833 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            1. re: grayelf

                              Thanks for the tip. I'll have to check La Torta Gorda out.

                              La Torta Gorda
                              2833 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              1. re: Mari

                                The owners are from Puebla. And, funny enough, they moved to SF after living in NYC.

                        2. For Mexican from Mexico food, hands down Nopalito in the pan handle. Spent 15 years in Mexico, and this is authentic, with its own flare.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: wasabe cat

                            What kind of double speak is that: authentic, with its own flare?

                              1. re: Tripeler

                                The flare is to keep the food warm while eating it. The FDA reqjuires a Caution on the menu stating that "This flare is not edible!"

                              2. love sanjalisco. best birria i've had

                                1. It is not true that SF has better Mexican than NYC, unless you are unwilling to go to Jackson Heights/Corona or Sunset Park Brooklyn. There is some good stuff here, especially Oakland, but frankly LA is the place not SF.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: jason carey

                                    I've heard this assertion before, where do you recommend in NYC?

                                    Based on experience growing up in LA and now living in Oakland, Oakland is as good as LA...but LA has volume.

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      for some, Oakland might have places as 'good' as LA, but the range of regions and styles down south is out of Oakland's league. off the top of my head, Oakland does not have a place comparable to three very different spots down south : Monte Alban, Moles La Tia, and Mariscos Chente.

                                      1. re: moto

                                        LA county is 8x the population of Alameda county, and the city of Los Angeles is roughly 10x the population of Oakland (3,792,621 vs 390,724).

                                        1. re: moto

                                          Some of the Mexican food around here is as good as I've had in Mexico.

                                          If you were going to spend a week eating nothing but Mexican food, LA might offer more variety than here. On the other hand, last time I went to LA, I went to two of the places most recommended on that board, one was great and one was a bad choice. On the third hand, if I were spending a week in LA, I might eat nothing but Korean food.