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Quick request for tacos in Mission for Vancouver visitor

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I'm hosting a visitor from the Vancouver area next week. She and I agreed that Mexican was the best option for our lunch, since they don't get that at all up in her neighborhood. The thing is, I live on the Peninsula and eat all my tacos in Redwood City. I need the 'hounds recommendation for where to take her in the Mission. I've tried to read the threads, but you guys know SO MUCH that it's hard to pick out the 'sure thing' place. Unless it's La Tacqueria:). I like carnitas, myself, and have been known to eat some sopas pollo of any sort. My guess is that she will like anything that's good. Thank you in advance for your ideas.

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  1. tacqueria vallarta. it's a $1.50/taco "commitment" so if you dont like then, you can tack [to say el toyonese etc]. the onions cooking with the meat are also good. or you can pop down to Bakersfield to the awesome Los Tacos De Huicho ... it's "almost" worth a detour.

    1. My favorite is the al pastor at Taqueria San Jose.

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      Taqueria San Jose
      2830 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      1. Leaving specific recommendations to the San Francisco locals... but I have to say that pretty much any of the tacquerias in the Mission will impress a visitor from Vancouver. So - don't worry!

        1. Folks have their personal favorites, but you will be hard pressed beating the place you already mentioned -- La Taquaria. Just be sure to add a little bit of salsa verde from the plastic squeeze bottles on to each bite. You and your friend will not be disappointed.

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          La Taqueria
          2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          3 Replies
          1. re: Civil Bear

            I'll second La Tacqueria. More expensive than most others but the quality of the meats and other ingredients is noticeably better. Their aqua frescas are killer too. Do not go there for burritos, though.

            I like San Jose, but their tacos are smaller and a bit greasier -- still very good but not as good. I also like the tacos from any of the El Tonayense trucks. A taco tour of the Mission might be in order.

            1. re: Civil Bear

              La Taqueria is my favorite too, for carne asada, and yes, it is more expensive than other taquerias. but totally worth it!

              El Buen Sabor is also very good - good flavor on the carne asada
              Taqueria Vallarta on 24th is good - as said above, a good variety of meats and very cheap.
              I love Pancho Villa tho others here don't share my enthusiasm.
              And I do not like Cancun for anything BUT tacos. but they are my last choice ever.

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

              La Taqueria
              2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

              1. re: Civil Bear

                Note that La Taqueria closes every year for 2 weeks over the holidays. They are closed until January 9 this year. Taqueria San Jose is a good alternative across the street.

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                La Taqueria
                2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              2. Here's a plan from "The Girl From Vancouver" greyelf.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743722

                1. The RWC chauvinist/born-n-bred townie in me says go ahead and bring her to Redwood City. If anything, the red hot epicenter at Fifth and Middlefield and the radius delicious within two blocks are more intense than ever.

                  1. I grew up in Redwood City and I've lived in San Francisco for 14 years now and I've yet to find tacos as good as El Grullense (especially the Sequoia Station and 5th ave branches).

                    1. Thank you guys. She is coming the end of this week, so the info on La Taqueria closing is germane. Among the rest, any carnitas recommendations? Anything as good as La Grullense on Middlefield:)?

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                      La Taqueria
                      2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: LPC

                        Whenever you do get to go to La Taqueria (my fav) I really like to get the crispy taco...just ask for "dorado."

                        From a rec on chowhound, I tried Los Gemelos on Middlefield in Redwood City and loved it...they make their own tortillas. The only way to improve this taco would be to bring your own avocado...they only have thin guac and I much prefer slices of fresh avocado.

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                        La Taqueria
                        2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                        1. re: LPC

                          For carnitas specifically you can try La Palma on 24th Street, although there is no sitting area. Another place that seems to specialize in carnitas is La Espiga de Oro also on 24th Street. When they opened several years ago they sold limited items including carnitas by the pound. South San Francisco may be too far, but I've always found the carnitas at La Tapatia on Grand Ave. very good.

                            1. re: Mari

                              La Palma now has tables outside on the sidewalk . . . although that's not going to help much if it's raining.

                              La Espiga de Oro Tamaleria has carnitas and chicharrones on display in the front window for sale by the pound.

                              However, I will have to say that tacos are better in Redwood City at Los Gemelos, El Grullense, etc., especially for carnitas. Might want to choose something else for lunch in SF that's a strength rather than a food that the areas outside SF generally do better and cheaper. What you can get a home in Redwood City is superior, and it's not the just the meats but the salsas and tortillas, eat your tacos there.

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                              La Palma Mexicatessen
                              2884 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              La Espiga de Oro Tamaleria
                              2916 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                The OP's guest has never eaten in redwood city, so carnitas in the mission doesn't seem like a terrible idea. The mission is a vibrant area one can kick around in, at least. I'd take some of melanie's advice and tack on some ice cream or doughnuts on 24th for additional flair.

                                1. re: bbulkow

                                  The Girl from Vancouver's proposed itinerary included Humphrey Slocum , St. Francis Fountain, Bi Rite Creamery and Dynamo, a most ambitious list worth checking above.

                          1. I would second the Taqueria Vallarta recommendation.

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

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: vulber

                              As the generously referred to "Girl", I wanted to second what fmed said above: you could wander blindly into virtually any taqueria in the Mission (forget RWC) and get something infinitely better than the top options in Vancouver.

                              FWIW here's what we did on our most recent Mission blitz with visiting Vancouverites, so the OP doesn't have to wade through my LOOONGGG Nov report:

                              From 2-6:30 we hit the Mission for a crawl set up with a few Vancouver food bloggers. We checked out Dianda’s cakes, Mr Pollo was closed as it was Sunday, hit La Taqueria for the controversial taco dorado ($3.50 hard sell on extras, $1.20 for no beans!), then Santaneca for 2 pupusas (rice dough is excellent, tons of food for $4), carnitas super at Guadalajara ($2.95) with guacamole, 7 tacos at Taqueria Vallarta (cabeza, buche or neck x2, chorizo, al pastor, lengua and the best one, saudero or tender beef at $1.50) carnitas torta at Los Picudos ($7 cut in half would feed two on its own), La Spiga de Oro for gigantic Guatemalan tamal ($2.95), banana leaf wrapped in parchment, 2x ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, malted dulce de leche, Boccalone prosciutto, Birite (no line!) crème fraiche, texture issues, salted caramel too soft, looked into Mission Chinese, great divey space, Yamo closed Sundays, Birite Grocery, Delfina too close to dinner.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                It is my understanding that the $1.20 for no beans at La Taqueria only applies when you order a burrito; when I asked about this, I was told that their theory is that when people order "no beans" the result is more meat to make up for this BUT if you say "no beans" and just the regular amt of meat, there is no extra charge.

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                                La Taqueria
                                2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                1. re: walker

                                  same applies to tacos; i only eat tacos, anywhere, and got the same story. i get the rationale. i love their meat enough to pay extra.

                                  1. re: walker

                                    La Taqueria puts beans in their tacos?

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                                    La Taqueria
                                    2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Not really relevant for the OP as I gather La Taqueria will be closed when the guest in question is in town but we did run into this the three times we've bean (sorry, couldn't resist) and I assumed it was for the no beans = more meat reason. One of my DCs on that trip was kinda freaked out by it though :-). And they were really pushing the "extras" on that visit too which verged on off putting. Maybe even the hugely popular/busy La Taq is suffering a bit in this hellish resto environment/economy...

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        So if you pay the surcharge to get a taco with just meat and no beans, like you would at pretty much any other taqueria, the cost is what? $4.70 each?

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          something like that. instead of getting a smaller taco/burrito because they are taking away beans, rice, whatever, the give you a lot more meat, and presumably meat costs them more. i still think it's worth it. but for me, all a taco needs to be is a lot of killer carne asada and some hot ho tsauce.

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            All this taco talk made me want one from La Taqueria and since I had an errand to run in the Mission...so, I was at 22nd & Mission and what do I see? The guy selling the bacon wrapped hot dogs, with raw or sauteed onions and sauteed serranos -- I'd only heard of this guy, had never seen him. So, instead of a taco, just had a delicious hot dog, instead.

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                                            La Taqueria
                                            2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            1. re: walker

                                              yay for you! whadja have on it? for me, it's gotta be just mayo, really well-grilled onions, the pickled jalapenos from a jar, as well as the serranos from the grill.

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                I skipped the pickled jalapenos, chose the grilled onions, mayo, mustard, hot sauce (it isn't too hot) and a grilled serrano...a bit too hot for me. I stood in a doorway to eat it (I don't eat in my car!) and managed to spill a glop of onion on my cashmere scarf (no stain!!)

                                                I asked him if the cops ever hassled him and he said "only in the summertime." Strange!

                                                1. re: walker

                                                  we live around the corner (yes, from all of them) so i just get it in my hair on the walk home. yeah, it certainly seems to be seasonal - they hassle them for months, you don't see them for awhile - or you see one operating out of a van (psst, kid, c'mere... you wanna buy a dog?) - arrest them, etc., and then a few months later they're all back and no one bats an eye. and the thing is, they mostly bother them late at night, when drunk hipsters (ok, and me) are coming out of the bars. during the day, when it's just nice Mexican families out and about and stopping for a snack, the cops don't seem to have any concerns about "health" issues.

                                  2. re: grayelf

                                    Thank you! I will take them on a food walk to Taqueria VAllata and then to La Spiga de Oro because I LOVE tamales. Then we will try Humphry Slocombe.