rom casual, hole-in-the-wall eateries to upscale tasting menus, The Mission is a diner’s playground. Taquerias rub elbows with izakayas and delicatessens; industrial kitchens parallel creameries. It’s infused with a golden history, and an eclectic dining scene seeking to celebrate the region’s treasures. Such compact diversity manifests itself in the cooking here, making The Mission a jumping off point for not only The Bay but a rich representation of culinary offerings in California.
Taqueria El Buen Sabor |18th & Valencia
699 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Taqueria El Buen Sabor is what it says it is: a small, Mexican restaurant with flavor. Posted on the corner of 18th & Valencia, this Taqueria isn’t here to mess around. The open kitchen and wooden benches mirror El Buen Sabor’s cooking style: simple, clean and unapologetically delicious. It’s a reminder that there is such a thing as Latino umami—it’s called a burrito. Eat it any way you like: carne asada con cotija, carnitas con papas, the Super Vegetarian Burrito or straight up bean and cheese. And don’t forget the homemade salsa bottles on your table. Try both green and red; they won’t disappoint.
Southern Pacific Brewing Co. | 16th & Treat
620 Treat Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 341-0152 | www.southernpacificbrewing.com
Equipped with a 15-barrel brewing system, 21 beers on tap and a 10,000 square foot warehouse with a mezzanine and sunlit patio, Southern Pacific’s bravado lies in its ability to continuously delight. Not only does its scale astound upon the first visit, but its West-Coast style brews and unforgettable pub grub makes it a truly deluxe brewery in the heart of The Mission. In addition to its true-to-style beers, Southern Pacific’s twists on classic cocktails both satisfy and elevate expectations, creating decisive, signature tastes. Its food is no different. Take, for example, your go-to wings and fries. This brewery picks it up a notch with coconut-fried wings tossed in a sweet and sour sauce that are so juicy; they need no dip. And the sage fries—yes, I said sage—have just the right amount of salt, you’ll find your fingers going for those crispy sage leaves just as much as the delectable potatoes. While Southern Pacific Brewing Co. is relatively young, it’s definitely made its mark on the San Francisco dining scene and will continue to be a place to frequent for locals and visitors alike.
Namu Gaji | 18th & Dolores
499 Dolores St, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 431-6268 | www.namusf.com
Namu Gaji’s cuisine could be labeled as Modern Pan-Asian or even Japanese-inspired, Korean-American, but that wouldn’t be quite right. More adequately, it is comfort food evolved from the Lee brothers’ progressive take on their own family’s cooking, which takes on a wide range of dishes. From the oysters with dashi, garnished with lime and scallions to the noteworthy stonepot filled with the week’s vegetables from the Farmers’ Market, kimchee and perfectly steamed egg atop a bed of rice, each plate is lovely and unpretentious. Namu Gaji highlights fresh ingredients in a seasonal menu, utilizing produce from their own farm that is cultivated with East-Asian farming methods and highlights California’s rich bounty. The result is a marriage of nostalgia and transformation: each bite honoring both the past and future, but ultimately, the present bite: that burst of honest flavor that celebrates time and space, augmenting that single moment of enjoying real food.
Gracias Madre | Mission & 18th
2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 683-1346 | www.gracias-madre.com
For those seeking comfort food without the guilt, Gracias Madre is the place. This traditional-looking restaurant is not all as it appears; staple, Mexican dishes dot the menu, but all ingredients are plant-based. Corn tortillas and tamales are made in-house, and most of the produce comes from Gracias Madre’s own farm, Be Love Farm. Try the red pozole with cashew crema or the flautas filled with sweet potato. Hearty, vegan cooking, while uncommon, is not impossible in Mexican cuisine and Gracias Madre has put it on the map.
Lazy Bear | Mission & 19th
3416 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94410
(415) 874-9921 | www.lazybearsf.com
The highly sought after and difficult to get into, Lazy Bear, stations itself among the greats in San Francisco. Chef David Barzelay has been named among Food & Wine’s 2016 Best New Chefs—he is self-taught, highly ambitious and successful—consistently selling out the 40-seating, communal dinner. And it’s no wonder: guests must first purchase tickets in advance, arrive for a cocktail and appetizer social hour in the mezzanine before being ushered downstairs to the main dining room where they partake in communal dining. There is no divider between the chefs and diners, and interaction is encouraged. The atmosphere is more dinner party than formal dinner, and the food plays a large role. Playful, yet tasteful dishes rotate seasonally and are always a surprise. From Chef Barzelay’s colorful play on greenery, to the infinitely pleasing dessert, the mouth is never fretting, but intrigued for more. Be sure to reserve your tickets early as this two-star Michelin dinner party is an experience everyone wants to get in on.