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Best mexican food in San Francisco?

taz99 Sep 28, 2012 06:47 AM

I'm visiting San Francisco in November and while I know the town isn't "known" for mexican food, I also know there are tons of great little (or not so little) spots that offer up yummy mexican food. I'm talking enchiladas, tacos, refried beans...the usual stuff but done really well.

I'm craving this kind of mexican food since I moved from Arizona/california to kentucky. It simply doesn't exist here. They put a thick, sweet red sauce or white cheese sauce on EVERYTHING. it's horrible. I just want a basic chips and salsa fix with fresh, well-made food.

Where would you guys suggest I go? I'm staying in the SOMA area.


  1. Civil Bear Sep 28, 2012 08:25 AM

    Sounds like you are looking for a good taquaria. Everyone has their favorite, but I would recommend La Taquaria just off the 25th Street BART stop in the Mission. It costs a little bit more than your average taquaria, but the quality and ingredients are better as well.

    If you go, make sure to get some salsa verde out of the plastic squeeze bottles between bites!

    1. Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2012 08:42 AM

      Taqueria San Jose for tacos al pastor and of chorizo. I have no memory of their chips but the salsas are good.

      Enchiladas, maybe El Metate?

      1. Dave MP Sep 28, 2012 09:07 AM

        What are some good options for non-taqueria Mexican? I find that people often ask me this question, and I'm never sure where to send people. Doesn't necessarily have to be fancy or even sit-down....there are a few places on Mission that i have yet to try as part of my La Lengua Chronicles, so maybe I'll discover something there (Las Brisas comes to mind), but what else?

        11 Replies
        1. re: Dave MP
          Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2012 09:35 AM


          1. re: Dave MP
            hyperbowler Sep 28, 2012 09:36 AM

            More of an index than a set of reviews/quality check, but this thread might be helpful:

            Based on that thread, I've enjoyed a few good meals at El Delfin and El Huarache Azteca (Oakland), and the botanas at Los Yaquis. Chilango didn't work out so well.

            1. re: Dave MP
              Dave MP Jul 14, 2013 09:56 PM

              I am once again looking to get the answer to this question. Chava's looks good, though I'm hoping for something for tomorrow that is open past 8 PM (Chava's apparently closes at this time).

              Other thoughts for non-taqueria Mexican in Mission/Bernal Area would be great. Yucatasia might work. Anything else on Mission Street that is worthwhile?

              1. re: Dave MP
                Dave MP Jul 14, 2013 09:59 PM

                Los Yaquis sounds good: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8274... Anyone been recently? It seems like they close at 7:30 so might not work for me either.

                1. re: Dave MP
                  Cynsa Jul 15, 2013 03:21 AM

                  El Zocalo is open until 3 am
                  3230 Mission Street
                  (between 29th St & Valencia St)

                  not on Mission Street:
                  SanJalisco is open until 10 pm
                  901 S Van Ness Avenue
                  (between 21st St & 20th St)

                  Chilango is open until 10 pm
                  235 Church Street
                  (between Market St & 15th St)

                  1. re: Cynsa
                    Cynsa Jul 15, 2013 06:04 AM

                    Sending friends to El Delfin, Los Yaquis, SanJalisco, Nopalito and Chilango when they want more than a burrito.

                    1. re: Cynsa
                      Dave MP Jul 15, 2013 12:28 PM

                      Great, thanks!

                      1. re: Dave MP
                        Dave MP Jul 16, 2013 09:56 AM

                        Ended up at El Zocalo last night.

                        I thought the horchata was a tad watery, but my DC really liked it. I had an arrayan agua fresca, and it was very good. Cheese w/ loroco pupusas are freshly made and filled with piping hot cheese. Tacos al pastor plate had two large tacos, salsa, rice and beans. I didn't eat much of these, but the beans I tasted (refried) were pretty good.

                        Thanks again for the suggestions

                    2. re: Dave MP
                      hyperbowler Jul 15, 2013 06:36 AM

                      El Delfin recently closed and is now La Movida and Pal's Takeaway. Glad to see it replaced with something good though! : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906131

                      It would be nice to hear an update on Yucatan restaurant Poc Chuc. They're now closed on Wednesdays and Sundays, but are otherwise open until 10pm.

                      1. re: hyperbowler
                        Prabhakar Ragde Jul 15, 2013 10:26 AM

                        I visited Poc Chuc recently, and had a similar feeling about it as on my first visit shortly after it opened: strangely introverted service, food is good but not outstanding, pretty good prices for a sit-down meal in a decent setting.

                        1. re: Prabhakar Ragde
                          Dave MP Jul 15, 2013 12:27 PM

                          My assessment was about the same as Prabhakar Ragde's when I last ate at Poc Chuc in Jan 2012. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829296 Not that amazing, and it didn't make me want to return.

                          But I remember really liking it back in 2008.

                  2. BernalKC Sep 28, 2012 09:58 AM

                    I *love* La Taqueria for their tacos and aqua fresca. But that won't satisfy your enchilada craving. And when it comes to the kind of homey, rice and beans, old-school Mexican food, everyone has their own favorites and there's no real arbiter of "best".

                    A few places are notable for my tastes:

                    Roosevelt Tamale Parlor: totally old-school but maybe even more on its game now than a few years back. The neighborhood has changed, but they continue to thrive.

                    La Corneta: closer to the style of La Taqueria - not sure how their enchiladas are since I always get burritos there - but a cheap, sure bet.

                    El Toro Taqueria: like La Corneta, a solid, can't miss, cheap choice.

                    Puerto Allegre: my all time favorite place and habitual first choice for SF-style Mexican with table service and a full bar. They've "updated" their menu to go beyond the old-school standards, but they still have the standards there. I've had their 2-enchilada dinner plate many, many times and its homey, satisfying, goodness with rice, beans, shredded lettuce and a side of steamed tortillas - sure to scratch your itch.

                    That said, I'm not sure where the "best" enchiladas of that style are found in SF. I love Puerto Allegre, and I think it hits the target you've painted, but I'm not sure it stands above the rest. I know a whole lot of us are waiting to see what the about-to-reopen-after-at-least-a-decade La Rondalla will be like. It definitely use to be the kind of place you're looking for. Will they go upscale or stick to their roots?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: BernalKC
                      Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2012 10:11 AM

                      Roosevelt Tamale Parlor used to be very old-school Mexican-American, but in 2008 the kitchen got a makeover by Karen Taylor of Primavera. Anybody been recently?

                    2. t
                      taz99 Sep 28, 2012 10:51 AM

                      This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. And I definitely know that favorite mexican food is very subjective, based on what we grew up eating, or fell in love with as an adult. My first taste of "real" mexican food was in Phoenix, which had a totally different flavor and style than the mexican food I later had in los angeles, where I lived for ten years. And again, my now ex-MIL, who was born in mexico, made food with an entirely different flavor than what I was used to from restaurants.

                      But trust me - no one in Kentucky can make good mexican food. There's this gloppy white sauce on everything you order and without it, it's even worse. Or you can opt for a thick, sweet red sauce that they douse on enchiladas, etc. Ugh. My now ex-husband, of Latino descent, couldn't eat the stuff without gagging.

                      1. d
                        dunstable Jan 14, 2014 07:23 AM

                        Perhaps not truly the BEST Mexican, but I have been going to Case Mexicana in Noe for my post-gym meal for a while now, and they deserve a mention for being an excellent value, as their tacos are basically large chunks of meat on a tortilla. The photo is from last night; salmon tacos are $3.80 each and the steak is $3.50.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dunstable
                          dunstable Jan 14, 2014 07:27 AM

                          sorry, photo isn't sticking to the post for some reason...

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