HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

5 hours in the Mission - an eye on variety.

As noted in other threads I'll be visiting SF in September. Planning on attending the Giants 1:05 start against the D-Backs but want to wander the Mission from breakfast till lunch grazing on the "can't miss" spots. Probably going to meet up with a couple friends from Berkeley (though this is still questionable) and the plan for the time being is:

Knead, Dynamo, Bi-Rite, Mission Chinese Food, Delfina Pizza.

Any of those that could/should be skipped in favor of something else? Already been to La Panaderia and Humphry Slocombe.

Thanks to all.

http://uhockey.blogspot.com

-----
Delfina Restaurant
3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Have you not been to Tartine Bakery yet, Uhockey? that seems like an obvious choice. If you get there early enough you won't have to wait in line. Definitely a destination spot, as well as a total local hangout. (I keep trying to add the link for it, but it's not working....)

    what day of the week is that? note that Deflina Pizza opens at noon on weekends, and even an 11:30 opening doesn't give you much time to sit - i imagine you could do take-out, but your pizza wouldn't be as good....

    i'd skip Mission Chinese Food. uneven. and again, it's a sit down place, you don't really have time.

    i haven't been but i hear the sandwiches at Pal's Takeaway (not far from Dynamo) are good. Mission Cheese (on Valencia between 18th & 19th) is good for a snack and a glass of wine.

    or you could just have a delicious guatamalan breakfast at Palacio Latino (Mission between 18th & 19th) and not be hungry for the rest of the day! absolutely love their tortillas. (though this is not a destination spot - it's very much a local latino cafeteria type place.)

    -----
    Mission Chinese Food
    2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Palacio Latino Restaurant
    5925 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

    Mission Cheese
    736 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    1 Reply
    1. re: mariacarmen

      Have been to Tartine - forgot to mention it. :-)

      As for Mission Chinese, I thought Mission Chinese offered take out?

      Will look into Palacio Latino - Thanks!

      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

      -----
      Palacio Latino Restaurant
      5925 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

    2. I'd skip all of them except Pizzeria Delfina, unless you're buying chocolate bars or arugula at Bi-Rite--but I'm guessing you meant the creamery.

      Local Mission, the brother restaurant to Knead, is better than the bakery (and I think better than Pal's although Pal's changes the menu more often). The sandwiches on Knead's brioche are always good.

      La Victoria has a new pastry chef. I'd stop by Chile Lindo and take a few empanadas to the game.

      Mission Chinese is awful; see other long threads. Somehow a non-Chinese restaurant with a heavy hand for oil and chiles has entranced the non-Chinese food press.

      -----
      Pizzeria Delfina
      2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

      Chile Lindo
      2944 16th St, San Francisco, CA

      4 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Has Mission Chinese Food been reviewed in the Chinese food press? I'm curious what the review says - can you provide a source?

        The broccoli beef cheeks is neither oily or hot andd is quite tasty. Also, the summary from other long threads is more accurately phrased as as some people like it and some people don't. - not that it's awful.

        -----
        Mission Chinese Food
        2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. re: boris_qd

          The Chinese community would not waste its time on reviewing such a restaurant. Word of mouth is very strong in the Chinese community, and every Chinese person I know who has given this place a try has come out hating it - not because the food is not authentic but because the quality is terrible and wildly inconsistent. There's a reason you will find mostly non-Chinese/Asians at Mission Chinese.

          1. re: hong_kong_foodie

            To be fair, some of the worst Chinese dives in the city are still heavily populated by Chinese clientele, so there are often other factors beyond food quality at play.

            1. re: sugartoof

              As a Hong Kong born housemate told me decades ago, "If you see a lot of Chinese people in a restaurant, it's either very good or very cheap."

      2. Yes, Mission Chinese does take out and yes, they're heavy handed with the seasoning, but actually if you're just having one dish, the salted cod fried rice is incredible and not too heavy.

        I'm fairly certain you're going to need a taqueria on your list. My favorite tacos (carnitas and carne asada are both great) are at La Taqueria up on Mission and 25th (ask for your tacos "crispy" and they'll fry the corn tortillas-- SO good). A burrito at Taqueria Cancun (19th and Mission) would also do the trick, but you won't have room for a whole one.

        Also, its not technically the Mission, but you should have an Ike's Sandwich-- call ahead and it'll be ready exactly when they say. Its only a couple blocks walk from Delfina/Bi-Rite if you end up going that way.

        Enjoy!

        -----
        Taqueria Cancun
        2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        La Taqueria
        2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        37 Replies
        1. re: kpatrick03

          I wouldn't be so sure about "...won't have room for a whole one" but thanks. ;-)

          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

          1. re: kpatrick03

            Mission Chinese is absolutely awful - and awfully inconsistent. Avoid at all costs.

            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

              I agree 100%. And I love food from Sichuan.

              1. re: Windy

                I've admittedly heard very mixed things - but then again, I can't really say I've ever had Chinese food that really WOWed me (I live in the midwest and tend to go upscale when I travel) so to me it is actually some of the more non-traditional dishes that appeal. Would I be better off looking towards one of the R&G on Z&Y places for lunch on a different day?

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                1. re: uhockey

                  Yes, you should go to R&G in Chinatown instead. I recommend the two signature dishes: (1) salt & pepper crab and (2) soy sauce chicken. I also recommend a vegetable dish (ask them what's in season) and a bowl of steamed rice to complete the meal. Finally, I suggest asking for less salt, oil, and msg.

                  Unfortunately, most of the Chinese food in the US is a travesty of what you find in Asia. You will just have to come to Hong Kong sometime - there are plenty of places that are extremely upscale with Cantonese food that have the wow factor.

                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                    Definitely the salt-and-pepper crab at R&G!
                    I also share hong_kong_foodie's sentiments with regards to Chinese food in the US. I'd not been able to find any which really wowed me after dining out in SF, LA, NY, etc. R&G Lounge and Great Eastern in SF Chinatown had been my regular spots when I'm in town.
                    But the Chinese food in HK, Singapore and KL (where I'm now located) are really something else - every good fried dish came with "wok hei" (aroma from frying over high heat on Chinese woks), everything's super-fresh & bursting with flavors.

                  2. re: uhockey

                    I'd definitely recommend Z&Y. R&G is notoriously inconsistent; if you get there on a good day and cherry-pick the menu you'll be OK, but it's a minefield.

                    1. re: soupçon

                      R&G is a fine place for a crab with a group. But there is quite a bit of expensive, mediocre food on the menu, and it's a poor place for lunch on your own.

                      I like Z&Y although I do prefer Spices (on 6th and 8th Avenues, near Clement).

                      1. re: Windy

                        I prefer Spices to Z&Y as well. But, correct me if i'm mistaken, spices is sichuan via tawain and I think has a slightly heavier hand with sugar then a more purist sichuan place would be.

                        1. re: boris_qd

                          Yes, Spices is Sichuan via Taiwan, but it's more like the food I ate in Chengdu and elsewhere in Sichuan.

                          There's no single purist Sichuan food. Chongqing (aka Chung King for those of us who grew up on instant chow mein in the 70s) because of its population is no longer technically part of Sichuan. This is where the amazing Chongqing chicken wings covered in red peppers comes from, as well as the occasional river fish dishes.

                          Chengdu is where the woman whose face was pockmarked by acne created ma po tofu, named for her. The food we ate there was predominantly pork with an occasional rabbit or duck, along with unforgettable hot pot at the place next to the bus station.

                          My complaint about the banquets at China Village is that banquet food isn't typical of Sichuan. Given a choice between banquet food and more typical home cooking/street food, I much prefer the street food for this region. (And that's why Mission Chinese Food is such a disappointment. It's a great menu in theory--but not execution. Especially compared to Xi'an Famous Foods in NY.)

                          After reading the threads about China Hot in San Mateo, I'm thinking we could use a chowdown there.

                          1. re: Windy

                            How is the local chow meetup scene, out of curiosity?

                            As my visit is prefaced by a job recruitment interview fining a dining scene where people are open to meetups is actually something that interests me a lot.

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                            1. re: uhockey

                              If you pick a date and place for a chowdown, people will come. That's a much better option for Chinese food and pretty much anything besides tasting menus. Works best with a limited size (1 or 2 tables) and someone with an ordering strategy, but you could also pick an Off the Grid and be the guy in the green fedora.

                              See the pinned posts on the top of the board for details on sending out an invite. There are several Yahoo groups based on geography.

                              Also check out the writeups from grayelf's many visits. She's managed to cover the whole city and acquire an entourage/fan base through great research and organizing.

                    2. re: uhockey

                      If you're interested in non-traditional dishes, then you should probably try Mission Chinese Food. As you can see for yourself, opinions posted here are quite mixed, and some of the loudest complaints are about it not being traditional, which to me seems like an odd complaint for a place where the menu includes such dishes such as kung pao pastrami and salt cod fried rice.

                      -----
                      Mission Chinese Food
                      2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Have you actually eaten at Mission Chinese yet, or are you still recommending it based on what you've heard?

                        The complaints are not just that it isn't traditional (and that they aren't Chinese). The food is awful.

                        1. re: Windy

                          Its nowhere close to awful. It might not be your style, but i enjoy their creativity. Its not like any another restaurant in the city. MC certainly takes some chances with their food, but i like it a lot.

                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Agreed. But I actually think the Kun Pao Pastrami is one of the weaker dishes they have.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Dang - this place does generate some strong opinions.....kinda makes me want to see what side of the fence a person with minimal "authentic Chinese" experience falls on.

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                            1. re: uhockey

                              I don't have much experience with authentic Chinese cuisine and I went to MCF around the time it first opened. We got a lamb dish, the ma po tofu, and the szechuan pickles. It was fine, pretty tasty. The ma po tofu was really, really spicy. I didn't find anything offensive about it, but there was nothing about it that's had me rushing to try it again in the past year.

                              MCF, for whatever reason, does seem to be one of the most polarizing places in SF right now--some hounds find it incredible, some find it inedible. My advice: if you are planning to try five other places in the space of 5 hours, why not try a couple bites of a $10 takeout dish there? The place definitely received a lot of national press and its weird pop-uppy origins do make it pretty representative of the current SF dining scene. If you like it, great. If you don't, it's not like it's going to break your bank.

                              1. re: tripit

                                That was my thought in adding it. :-) The eel and the custard struck my fancy.

                                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I've said it before and I'll say it again: I could care less whether the food is authentic. The problem with Mission Chinese is that the food is AWFUL.

                            3. re: uhockey

                              z&y - waaay over r&g. especially if you're looking at variety. mapo dofu, explosive chicken, teatree mushrooms (not on the menu, you have to ask), tiger skin jalapenos, water boiled fish (fish in chili oil), dan dan noodles, Sichuan cold noodles, and my favorite - cold bacon-cut pork in a spicy, very garlicky sauce.

                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                What's a teatree mushroom? I'm looking at photos online but haven't seen them before that I know.

                                1. re: Windy

                                  i'm embarassed, but i don't even know! i think CHr dave kaplan (who stopped by but didn't join) recommended them to us on Grayelf's last visit.

                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                    I ask mostly because of the curious name ( tea doesn't grow on trees and Australian teatree isn't related to mushrooms).

                                    But if they taste good, worth trying.

                                  2. re: Windy

                                    Michelle, the owner of Z&Y, calls them tea tree mushrooms. They are long, thin, and chewy. The dish is listed only on the white sheet in Chinese under the glass of some tabletops, as 干锅茶树菇 , or gan1 guo1 cha2 shu4 gu1 .

                                    Here's a picture of a similar dish from a random website, found by searching on the characters:
                                    http://www.meishij.net/chufang/diy/si...

                                    Perhaps there's a more widely used name for these mushrooms?

                                    And, for whatever it's worth, count me as a fan of both Z&Y and Mission Chinese Food, despite the latter's sometime inconsistency. I'm not going to fuel the MCF discussion here, but two long threads are:
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/719092
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756691

                                    -----
                                    Mission Chinese Food
                                    2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    1. re: david kaplan

                                      Thanks! They look good.

                                      Can you tell if Z&Y's were fresh or dried? Will ask a friend from China about them.

                                      1. re: Windy

                                        They're sufficiently chewy that they might be dried, but I've never had anything like them elsewhere so I'm not sure.

                                        1. re: david kaplan

                                          I have a feeling they were dried but they were delicious and a bit different than any other mushroom prep I've tried, though I have had these mushrooms before at a Hunan resto in Richmond, BC. I'll try to find out what they were called there but they are notorious for bizarre nomenclature.

                                          Pork belly doughnuts is so on the list! I'm no hipster (for real) but drool.

                                          Re MCF or no, it's on my list because a local Hound really likes it. This Hound is not Chinese but I trust the houndiness of the palate :-). And I've never had Chinese food in China so authenticity is not key, flavour is. I'd give it a try were I in your shoes, uhockey. Maybe just get the Sichuan pickles for 3 bucks or so? Hope your Mission Madness is as much fun as my forays there have been!

                                          1. re: grayelf

                                            I'm probably going to give it a shot - it simply fits my schedule well and there are a number of items that - authentic or not - entail the use of some of my favorite ingredients in unique manners.

                                            I'm also no hipster - but in general that class of folks choose to have rather eclectic palates to compliment their expendable income and "hipster" brunches tend to be pretty darn good.

                                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                            1. re: grayelf

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/733530

                                              The mushrooms are the terrifically bad second-to-last photo. There is a link in this thread to the crazy translated menu if you have the urge to try to find them in it. The name on the menu bore no resemblance to the name on the bill.

                                        2. re: david kaplan

                                          I had these at Yunnanese places in China (at least one that I remember). I sort of remember them also being translated as tea tree mushrooms at the time.

                                          1. re: boris_qd

                                            Interesting. Z&Y does have a few Yunnan dishes on the menu, and the previous owners named the place "Z&Y" to mean Szechuan & Yunnan. Perhaps that mushroom dish is the Yunnan influence.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                What did you try other than crossing-the-bridge noodles? I like the Yunnan style rice cake, made with Shanghainese/Korean dok, smoked pork, pickled vegetable, and chili oil.

                                              2. re: david kaplan

                                                Did Z & Y ever start that tea service or hand pulling noodles, I wonder?

                                                -----
                                                Z & Y
                                                655 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                2. re: kpatrick03

                                  And what exactly makes this salted cod fried rice incredible?

                                  1. re: kpatrick03

                                    I'll second La Taqueria.

                                    Tacos there are pretty hefty, and would be more convenient than eating a hefty burrito while running around, and spending the day at the ballpark.

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

                                  2. Here's a gem I stumbled on: grab a dish of the pork belly doughnuts at Sycamore. It's a grungy mission style place, and those doughnuts are inconsistent but can be great.

                                    I'm not clear on exactly which 5 hours, on which day, you'll be in the mission. It matters.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                      That's pork belly dipped in doughnut batter and fried?

                                        1. re: scarmoza

                                          Because nothing says "hipster" like bacon and bourbon.

                                          1. re: Windy

                                            Nothing says "hipster" like bacon, bourbon, and DEEP FRIED.

                                            If someone's going to the Mission, I think a certain amount of Hipster should be recommended - and that's the most hipster dish I know of.

                                            (the dish isn't bacon, though, it's an honest thick chunk of pork belly)

                                    2. I do not think Mission Chinese is awful at all. I actually enjoy it. Just another opinion.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mrs bacon

                                        I like Mission Chinese. As does my Chinese neighbor, who eats there much more regularly than I do. Just so you know there are two very different schools of thought......

                                      2. At Knead, I love the Pomme D'amore with a cup of Philz next door. Dynamo Donuts are just o.k., but it's so close to Knead, you might as well stop and give it a try. I also agree that La Taqueria is worth adding to your plan. If you like espresso, I'd stop at Four Barrel.

                                        For ice cream, I prefer Mr. & Mrs. Misc. It's not in the Mission, but if you are headed to the ballpark you could stop there after the game. If you happen to go to that neighborhood on another day, it's worth stopping at Kitchenette to try a sandwich.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: wanderlust21

                                          Love coffee - kinda hit or miss on espresso - but Four Barrell definitely has appeal.

                                          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                          1. re: uhockey

                                            If you like Four Barrel espresso, then go ahead. I find it to be a bit extreme (very strongly flavored and very syrupy dense pulls). It kind of seems that Four Barrel no longer goes to this extreme (but I counter with a macchiato anyway). Just pointing out in case you haven't tried their style.

                                            Interesting to read about Knead above. I need to try. But, it's not clear to me that they serve doughnuts.
                                            My personal preference is for espresso from Ritual, Blue Bottle, Coffee Bar (Mr. Espresso), Barefoot or Contraband.

                                            -----
                                            Blue Bottle Cafe
                                            66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                        2. Coffee and a doughnut at Dynamo seems like a good call as part of a graze. Do you mean Bi-Rite Grocery store, or the ice cream and dessert spot? If ice cream, it's good and pretty different from Humphry Slocombe (less fatty). Another alternate Ice Cream place is Copa Loca Gelato or maybe even Mr. And Mrs. Miscellaneous if you make it over to Dogpatch.

                                          If you want a Mexican stop, aside from a variety of taco places, you might consider Torta Gorda, La Espiga de Oro or perhaps La Palma (although I am not as big a fan of their prepared items as others). All are in the general area of Dynamo.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: jman1

                                            La Copa Loca is the closest to an everyday gelato place in Italy I've come across in this country. Not necessarily the best gelato in the Bay Area, just very Italian.

                                            -----
                                            La Copa Loca
                                            3150 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              It's the gelato/ice cream spot that I visit most often. Low key (no line), not pricey, quality (if not great) gelato (I prefer to ice cream do to more flavor and less fat). Sometimes have special interesting flavors (lemon rosemary is one).

                                              My understanding is that the Mexican owner was a former employee and this venture was financed by the owner of Pasta Pomodoro (when they first opened, the Pasta Pomodoro guy was there one evening and we chatted). Seems to do a good business from the local Mission community, and also provides gelato to local restaurants (including La Ciccia).

                                              I'm surprised that it's not generally more popular.

                                              -----
                                              La Ciccia
                                              291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                                              1. re: uhockey

                                                You won't go wrong there, but you still need to choose hard vs. soft serve.

                                                1. re: jman1

                                                  I wasn't very impressed by Bi-Rite's soft-serve. Their regular ice cream is first-rate.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    That had been my impression. However, just days ago I tried it again, this time as a "Sundae": Mixture of coffee and salted caramel flavors, chocolate syrup and two types of almonds. Good combo. Perhaps the ice cream on it's own would not have measured up, but this was nice.

                                                    (And shorter line …)

                                            2. The Mission itinerary we suggest to friends usually runs like this: Tartine for lemon tarts and/or plain croissants, Bi-Rite for salted caramel ice cream, Range for a drink (we love their mojitos) if it's after 5:30, coffee at Ritual, and tacos at La Taqueria. I don't like Pizzeria Delfina--it just makes me long for the pizzas I've loved in Naples, NY, and New Haven--but I understand that others do. Another vote for R&G over Mission Chinese (though we've yet to try Spices or Z&Y).

                                              -----
                                              Tartine Bakery
                                              600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                              Pizzeria Delfina
                                              3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                              La Taqueria
                                              2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110