The Mission is usually a place you go at night to drink and probably eat burritos at 2am. Or maybe to sit in Dolores Park and watch the coconut man make his magical rum coconuts.
But the Mission has way more to offer than bars and burritos - there are plenty of great lunch places as well. The options are kind of endless, whether you’re looking for a beer and a burger, arepas, tacos, gluten-free things, salads, or yes, burritos. Consider your daytime Mission plans made.
This should be your number one Mission lunch option. You will have to wait in line, but it makes the sandwiches taste that much more incredible. As do the crippling hunger pangs you’ll have once your food arrives. Tartine is an institution, and with good reason. Skip the open-faced croque monsieur, go straight for the grilled cheese.
Is Tacolicious the most authentic taco shop in the Mission? Nope. But it’s one of the most fun. It’s great for groups, and it has something for everyone. Taco peeps - go for the short rib and carnitas. If greens are more your style, the Kale and Marina Girl salads are hearty and filling and great. Bonus points for free chips and quality salsa.
Enjoy a good post-lunch nap? Taqueria Cancún will serve you well. The burritos and quesadillas are solid, and the prices are pre-first dot com boom. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious/on-the-verge-of-fainting hunger, the Burrito Mojado exists.
Clearly not a place for lactose intolerants, Mission Cheese functions just as well for a quick solo lunch as it does for something longer, larger, and probably boozier. Get a fancier than average grilled cheese (we’re partial to the California Gold), or go big with a cheese flight. Knowledgeable staff always have great recommendations, and if it’s that kind of lunch, can recommend wine to go along with the board.
Monk’s Kettle is the perfect spot for a long, leisurely lunch when you want to sit and hang and eat awesome food and have a beer. A good veggie burger, an even better real burger, and tasty fries. Grab an outdoor table if you can and stay awhile.
Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen401 Valencia St
Serious arepas. These Venezuelan corn-based pockets are huge. Grilled and nice and crunchy on the outside, they’re filled with shredded beef, pulled pork (our favorite), plantains, and many more options.
Torta Gorda is the real deal. The tortas are indeed fat, especially the ridiculous Mega Cubana, and they are also extremely delicious. It’s a simple space, with some counter seats inside and some picnic tables out back. We usually go with the rajas con queso or the carne asada. Get napkins. A lot of them.
Mission Picnic is an ideal spot to pick up a sandwich or a salad before heading to Dolores for an afternoon of sunshine and contact highs. We like the kale caesar and cobb salads, and the sandwiches are spot on too - we’re currently partial to the pollo pesto and smoked salmon options.
We’re going to say it. El Castillito has our favorite burrito in San Francisco. The tortilla is magic, the cheese inside is melty, and the meat (especially the al pastor) is close to perfection. If you’re looking for a Mission burrito, this is the place.
Slightly corporate compared to some of the other burrito options, but one of the better chicken burritos in town. On the taco side, the shrimp is where it’s at. Don’t scrimp on saucing up your food - Papalote’s salsas are fantastic.
Yes, you’ve had one of their famous muffin-wrapped eggs. But you probably haven’t considered this bakery as a potential lunch spot. It’s actually an excellent sleeper Valencia option - they have a small menu of solid sandwiches and salads. We like the salami and fennel sandwich and the asparagus and red rice salad for something a little different. Don’t forget to save room for dessert.
Away from the crowds of the Valencia and 16th hub, Farmhouse Kitchen is a sunny and bright Thai option. They have plenty of solidly done classics (pad thai, penang curry), as well as some more unusual dishes, often served with blue rice. If you’re rolling with a crowd, there are also some long tables that work for groups.
Burmese food probably isn’t top of mind at lunch. Change that. Platha (the Burmese version of naan) and dip is delicious at all times of day. As is their mint chicken and tea leaf salad. Pretty unique and pretty damn delicious.
Affordable, straightforward and all around banging Indian-Pakistani food is what’s going down at Pakwan. If you’re saving up for a dinner at Coi or the latest in washable cashmere, pat yourself on the back and dig in at Pakwan. It’s consistently great.
Panchita’s papusas are the stuff of local legend. Made to order, these cheesy delights can be filled with anything from pork or beef to garlic mushrooms. Top liberally with salsa from the jugs on the picnic style tables and feel safe in the knowledge that parts of the old Mission do still exist.