great eats in the Mission [San Francisco]
spending a couple of days in SF next month, with a place to stay in the Mission. One of many many trips to SF over the years, but first time staying in this area. My idea is to 'pretend' we are in a little village called The Mission and only go to places that are walkable from where we are staying: around 17th and Guerrero (but not purists -- if needed a taxi here and there would be ok too). Would so appreciate your recommendations.
about us: coming from Portland OR so no strangers to great West Coast and innovative well-prepared food. If we had our druthers, wonderful food at a great value is the best. We are pretty adventuresome eaters and love all sorts of ethnic but creative fusion is also fine too. Wherever what is done, is done well/uniquely/creatively/authentically, at a 'reasonable' price (not into breaking the bank on this trip). For us, a great food cart is right up there with Chez Panisse along with the best dim sum in Daly City -- in other words, all are fine for us -- it's 'mediocrity' we don't go for!!
thanks in advance for your help and suggestions
Though you come from a land of beer and burgs (I split my gastrotourism dollars between the Bay Area and Portland these days; RIP Matchbox Lounge), may I suggest Abbot's Cellar for interesting beers on tap and an outstanding pretzel and Mission Bowling Club to try the somewhat-polarizing-but-beloved-by-me burger there? Best bet is during happy hour when it is served solo for $10 vs $15 with fries regularly. Sit outside on the little patio.
re: Robert Lauriston
adding on to the above list (to be fair, not all of these are unique to SF/the mission, but they're all tasty and reasonably priced)
trick dog - one of the few places i know with amazing food and cocktails
i actually prefer arabian nights to old jerusalem (but the latter is still solid)
delfina the restaurant for excellent cal-italian
san jalisco for authentic sit-down mexican (better than chava's IMO)
taqueria vallarta for authentic street tacos
dynamo donuts (a bit of a walk, though)
pastries at knead patisserie (also available at grand coffee)
ritual coffee both for coffee and their amazing pastries from black jet bakery.
philz for coffee and their amazing pastries from starter bakery (it's so nice to see coffeeshops taking their pastries seriously)
flour and water for excellent pizza and pasta
little star for amazing deep dish
burrito at taqueria cancun
lolinda for cal-argentinian (and one of the few rooftop views of SF).
brunch at foreign cinema
range for drinks and apps
hog and rocks
bacon wrapped hot dogs (found on nearly every block of mission street between 16th and 24th most nights, especially weekends)
thursday market on bartlett street always has some great stuff
i don't think the food at yuzuki or st .vincent is reasonably priced (though if you're a wine person, st. vincent is great). yuzuki seems to have gone downhill recently (need to write about in separate post)
avoid: mission chinese, farina, chinese food, thai food, vietnamese food (though i haven't checked out MAU yet), sushi (if you must, go to ichi)
i'm sure i am of course forgetting some....
Flour & Water is great but the waits are crazy so either make a reservation or have a bar or two in mind to hang out at while waiting.
How could I forget about Little Star? Could be the best Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in the country. Too bad they stopped selling slices at lunch but splitting an "individual" pie would be reasonable.
St. Vincent's prices seem on the low side of average to me. Yuzuki's prices are high but when I went the quality justified that.
re: Robert Lauriston
also, flour and water is open until 11 on weekdays and midnight on weekends (and usaully not packed later at night); so if you're like me and like to eat two dinners when going to a new city, could easily do an early one somewhere else and a late one there. i happen to really liek flour and water because it's hard to find an italian place that does both pizza and pasta really well (often, one is amazing and the other is just OK)
not to mention if one does want to wait it out at F&W, there are some truly great bars in that area (shotwell's, homestead, asiento, bender's) that will truly give one a sense of "local flavor", as they're far away enough from the valencia commerical stretch to avoid the overcrowding of hipsters/marina people (not that i don't like zeitgeist, but it's a different atmosphere entirely) that some of the more popular/more written-up bars attract. bender's actually sometimes reminds me of what zeitgeist might have been like in an earlier incarnation.
also robert, i think you're forgiven for forgetting one place; it's hard to recall quite everything in the mission :) , not to mention little star is still most-often associated with its original divis location.
Maybe there's deep-dish in Chicago as good as Little Star's, but it's better than what I had at the original Uno's before it went downhill. I think Little Star has improved on the Chicago tradition by focusing on balance rather than excess.
Obama ordered deep-dish from Pi in St. Louis, the chef there trained at Little Star.
re: Robert Lauriston
I like Little Star too, but I would not put it above Lou Malnati's, which I have had in the last two years.
Not sure when you went to Uno's, but it has been many years since that place was considered the standard for deep dish in Chicago. I'm not even sure it's considered average these days -- my Chicago friend scoffed that it was "tourist BS" when I asked him about it just now.
Yes, Giordano's pizza in Chicago. To be fair, I've never had anything else from there, so I'll qualify my statement by saying that Giordano's stuffed pizza is terrible, especially in comparison to any pizza from Malnati's. Or even the pan pizza at my neighborhood joint (Chicago neighborhood joint.)
$20 for a pasta appetizer at brunch is not reasonable.
and honestly, my main critique with farina is that they're attempting to replicate food exactly how it is made in italy, using expensive, imported ingredietns, despite the fact taht it will never quite be as good as in italy.
delfina is one block away, charges $5-10 less for everything, makes food that tastes better, and takes advantage of all the local ingredients.
i should have said "more reasonable". it's not much, if any, more expensive than AQ or foreign cinema. and imo it tastes a lot better. i think their baked items at brunch are better than tartine, and no more expensive.
farina is very good, very authentic italian food. serving that in sf, in a nice space, has a price. of course it is not going to be as good as in italy. do you really travel to italy frequently enough that there isn't a place for authentic italian food in sf?
delfina is a wanna-be chez panisse cafe that isn't nearly as good. the dishes are neither interesting nor inspired, and the food quality is not materially better than countless other places around the city.
sorry for lack of clarity:
we will be in SF for 2 1/2 days
'reasonable' of course depends on so much -- forget 'reasonable' and just any recommendations that you think offer 'great value for money spent' (irregardless of price point, high OR lo) will be appreciated.
thanks for all recommendations so far.
keep them coming!
you must must go to
-craftsmen and wolves.
get anything and everything. worth it.
is great for probably the best glass of wine in the mission. owner/somm david lynch has quite the palate. food is ok. new wine bar called
-20 spot, not too far from st vincent. really good food, wine and room. nice and quirky-we really enjoyed this place.
-ritual and four barrel for coffee.
dont sleep on this one, a treasure.
bi-rite creamery for ice cream. people love it, not the best best in sf but kind of a must try.
i know its wildly popular, but
-mission chinese is good, even if the people who work there are usually rude, its tasty.
get a carnitas taco at
plus, pretty much anything on roberts l's list is spot on (yamo is awesome!)
I like the conceit, though the "village" may seem a little small when you are not eating. I have a couple of suggestions that are outside the Mission but walkable. The $6 Tuesday lunch burger at Rosamunde in the Lower Haight combined with a dollar-off draft from the extensive selection at Toronado next door is an unbeatable combination. I would walk 16th to Sanchez to get there from where you are staying. A bit further, but better than any Mexican I have had in the Mission, is Nopalito; to get there, continue up Haight to Scott, then up to Oak and over to Broderick. This also gets you to the vicinity of the new Bi-Rite Market with its ice cream counter, or you could head down Hayes to Octavia and have made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream at Smitten, leaving you a short distance from home.
Back in the Mission, you could compare and contrast a carnitas taco from the El Gallo Giro truck (23rd and Treat) with a chile verde taco on a fresh handmade tortilla from La Palma (24th and Florida), have an ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe (24th and Folsom), then continue up 24th to Valencia and, for a neck-snapping contrast, have a glass of wine at St Vincent before heading home.