SFGuide

The Best Restaurants In The Mission

A guide to the most restaurant-filled neighborhood in San Francisco.

A guide to the best restaurants in the Mission is a daunting task. The historically Hispanic/Latinx neighborhood is filled with more great restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the city thanks to its diverse population and sheer size. But we’ve trimmed down the options to include the neighborhood’s most unmissable restaurants, from iconic taquerias and Japanese cafes to excellent spots for pasta. Now go forth and explore them all.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Erin Ng

Mijoté review image
8.6

Mijoté

$$$$

No two meals are ever the same at Mijoté, a French restaurant that changes their four-course, prix fixe menu daily—and that’s exactly what makes it so exciting. Expect to see simple, bright dishes like maitake mushroom that’s been slow-roasted and drenched in harissa butter, a tower of scallops stacked high with cucumbers and nectarines, and crispy-skinned chicken with elderberry jus that’s poured over from across the bar. Enjoying it all on vintage floral plates with a glass of natural wine in hand is an ideal way to spend a date night, birthday with a few close friends, or solo dinners celebrating you finally working up the courage to ask your landlord for a new fridge. 

Much like the first time you did hot yoga or the junior year promposal that went horribly south, a meal at this upscale Korean restaurant in the Mission is something you never forget. Bubbling vats of spicy tteokbokki and flat-out luxurious galbi are packed with so much flavor you’ll most likely spend 75% of the meal taking it all in with your eyes closed while wondering if you’ll ever eat a piece of beef this great again. Booking a table at this place that feels like an exclusive underground club usually requires month-out planning, but the effort is fully worth it. Get here for celebratory occasions, dinner with the parents, or any time you want a spread of life-changing meat. 

Donaji is a counter-service Oaxacan restaurant in the Mission that we beeline to as often as Harry Styles reaches for a feather boa. The bright pink and teal walls will make you feel spontaneously transported to a beachside town where everyone exclusively wears jean shorts. The feeling will intensify once you get a glass of their ice cold sangria, richly spiced mole, and tamales with a flavorful chicken filling. Donaji’s thick housemade tortillas will also do wonders for your mood—always get a few on the side. After you leave, you’ll probably want to turn right around and go back inside. Alternatively, just keep this spot in mind for small group dinners, casual date nights, and lunches on Wednesdays.

Ernest may be home to excellent seafood and seasonally changing entrées—but it’s also one of the most exciting dinner spots in the city, and one where we go for a Big Night Out. That big night usually includes the $95 chef’s pick menu, which comes with 10-ish courses that showcase the spot’s Asian-influenced dishes. For a more casual experience (read: one where you will not need a reservation), walk up to the bar where it’s first come, first served, and grab a glass of wine and the beef tartare topped with glistening orange ikura.

Yes, the momos at this Nepali restaurant on Valencia Street are the stuff of legend, but there’s more to Dancing Yak than well-spiced proteins wrapped in beautiful crimson-colored wrappers. They serve amazing small plates, curries, skewers, and other house specials that are as beautiful as the casual, jewel-toned place. Plus, the space is big enough to usually have room for you and a group of friends on any given day of the week (they take walk-ups), and everyone you encounter will be friendly and welcoming.

Whenever lunchtime rolls around and the closest thing we have to a proper meal is half a box of Wheat Thins, we immediately start thinking of a backup plan. And luckily, Stonemill Matcha—and their incredible chicken katsu curry, which we could write endless love letters about—exists. Settle into a corner of their peaceful space with an iced matcha latte and something involving their perfectly golden-brown katsu, whether it’s the curry plate with rice or the pork katsu sandwich. The Japanese cafe also does great baked goods, like matcha cream pie and cookies.

At Itria, house-made pastas and fresh crudos are the name of the game. Which is why your table will probably quickly fill up with bowls of squiggly gramigna with tender ragu bianco and an assortment of oysters and scallops after you’re seated in their bustling dining room. Itria has a pretty extensive wine selection, too, making it a great place to bring a date or a group of friends to celebrate a special occasion or unwind after a long week.

You come to the 16th and Valencia Steet spot for pupusas, and the ones at this Salvadoran counter-service restaurant are on track to receive the Cheesiest Pupusas award. They're thick corn cakes with meat and cheese oozing out of them—this won't be the lightest lunch ever, but you’ll be set for a while. We like the chicken or the loroco, but no matter which filling you get, make sure to top yours with the cortido that comes on the side.

Eating at Farmhouse Kitchen feels more like going to a party than a casual weeknight dinner. There’s a colorful interior, a lively staff, and homemade music videos that play on TVs as you eat. The best part is everything that lands on your table will be a hit, from the massive panang neua to the papaya salad and hat yai fried chicken. Come here with friends after work or for a birthday celebration, or if you’re just really looking to have a good time.

The Best Bars In The Mission guide image

SF Guide

The Best Bars In The Mission

There are some restaurants that we like to keep in our back pocket because they’re perfect for literally any scenario, from a date to a big group dinner, or where we’d take a friend coming to town for the first time. Prubechu is one of them. The Guamanian spot in the Mission has a well-spaced outdoor seating area, a chill vibe, and an excellent menu you’ll want to take your time going through. Come here and share the creamy tinaktak with handmade egg noodles and coconut beef, tender ko’ko’ wings and tangy lemon fina’denne sauce, Chamorro BBQ plates, and fluffy banana donuts for dessert.

Whenever we want a quick lunch for under $10, we head straight to Basa Seafood Express. The small, counter-service seafood spot has everything from salmon burgers and sushi to chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. But what makes them great is the poke, which is some of the best in the city and will run you only $7. There are three options, but the spicy creamy salmon poke is the way to go—the buttery chunks of salmon come in a tray with house spicy mayo, red and green onions, and roe.

Good Good Culture Club feels like a backyard potluck we never want to leave. Just like a potluck, the menu doesn’t necessarily have a cohesive theme—dishes are influenced by the foods of Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines (to name a few). Cocktails and natural wine flow all night, and the laidback rooftop with leafy palms and teal-colored booths is where we want to hang out for hours. There’s also a huge array of shareable entrées, like adobo chicken wings stuffed with garlic sticky rice, refreshing crying tiger shrimp, or the short ribs with a sweet sesame-date glaze. It will be an exercise in self-control to not order everything, but save room for the dessert—the “Halo Ha-Lao,” a pile of shiso shaved ice with ube ice cream, tapioca, and mango jellies, is something we’ll be trying to recreate at all potlucks in the near future.

It’s tough to make an afternoon hanging out in Dolores Park any better, but finishing the day with some ice cream from Bi-Rite might just be the best way to cap it off. There’s going to be a line, but it moves pretty quickly. We like peach cobbler if they have it, but the salted caramel and ricanelas are amazing, too. Their soft serve is also top-notch—it’s creamy, thick, and tastes even better when covered in rainbow sprinkles.

The super burrito with carne asada from Taqueria El Farolito is a top contender for our favorite burrito in town—it’s about the size of a newborn baby, and filled with tender steak. And if you’re still searching for your number one burrito, coming here (for science) is never a bad call. You can also get quesadillas and nachos, or try one of each meat in taco form. FYI, it's cash only, so come prepared.

Whenever the craving for fresh aguachile, incredible ceviches, and tender quesabirria hits, our internal GPS always leads us right to Chuy’s Fiestas. The Mexican restaurant is the perfect place to come with a group and get into a family-style spread of all of the above—the menu is pretty big, but if you focus on the seafood, you can’t go wrong. Wash it all down with one of their massive micheladas with a tamarind straw.

Stepping into Rintaro always feels like we’ve left the city completely. The tiled, string light-filled courtyard is surrounded by plants, and the high-ceilinged wooden interior reminds us of a day spa we'd gladly move into. But it’s not just the space that keeps us coming back—the food at this Mission izakaya is last-meal-in-the-city worthy. Exhibit A: the juicy, crispy-skinned yakitori with a dipping sauce that gets rich and creamy after you mix in the raw egg yolk. Or the hand-rolled udon with lingcod fishcake that soaks up the dashi broth like a sponge. It all makes for a pretty delicious escape, which you should enjoy while sipping on barley tea or umeshu. Get here with your parents, a group of friends, or someone you want to impress.

Lining up the croissants from Tartine Bakery with any other croissants is like putting Yo-Yo Ma in the middle of a high school band, no offense to your high school band. There will most likely be a line anytime after 8:30am, but whenever you go, fill a box up with everything in sight, and don’t skip out on the gougères. If you come for lunch instead, get one of the grilled cheeses. And a croissant.

We swing by this Arab bakery for midday lunches with friends, even those who are visiting the city for the first time. This Mission spot serves incredible pastries, chicken wraps, flatbreads, and hummus, all of which are great for sharing out on their sunny parklet. Make sure to get any dish that comes out of the oven—this is a bakery, after all—like the freshly-baked mana’eesh smeared with caramelized onion purée, or a falafel sandwich on ring-shaped sesame bread. If you don’t get the creamy hummus topped with sumac, chickpeas, and a pool of olive oil, you will have recurring regret flashbacks. 

Penny Roma is the younger sibling restaurant to certified Cal-Ital pasta icon, Flour + Water. But despite having a lot to live up to, the Mission spot holds its own by focusing on traditional-leaning dishes that might convince you to make like Timothee Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name and buy a one-way ticket to an Italian countryside villa. The fresh, handmade pastas change from time to time—the pillow-like agnolotti dal plin is a must-order, as is the tortelloni with a roasted squash filling that tastes like fall in a spoon. Wash it all down with a glass of wine as you contemplate the pros and cons of booking that flight.

This city has a lot of bakeries, but the great ones set themselves apart by mastering what makes them worth crossing town for. At Craftsman and Wolves, it’s The Rebel Within—a savory sausage and cheese muffin with a soft-cooked egg baked inside. Their other pastries are great too (we like the kouign-amann and the chocolate croissants), and if you end up there for lunch, the turkey melt is solid.

Yamo is a tiny, cash-only Burmese spot about a ten-minute walk from Dolores Park, and it’s where you should go for fantastic wok-tossed noodle dishes. We’re especially big fans of the tea leaf salad and the Yamo house noodles with garlic and pork. Not only are both delicious, but they cost under $6.50 each—as do most of the dishes on the menu. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal in the city.

The menu at Al’s Place changes often, and it’s mainly seafood and vegetable-focused (you can order meat on the side). From the massive baby lettuce salad to the stone fruit curry poured tableside over black cod and blueberries, the food is fantastic all-around. Plus, the service is friendly, and the atmosphere feels more like you’re in a fancy beach town than San Francisco. Reservations aren’t impossible to get, but booking a couple of weeks in advance is a wise choice.

Tartine Manufactory, the younger and even more ambitious sibling of Tartine, is a destination spot for anyone who appreciates simple, impeccably made baked goods—and more. This space is beautifully designed with incredible natural light at most hours of the day. We like to pop in for a breakfast sandwich or house-made granola in the morning, or drop in during lunch for tartines and salads. Or, if you want to ditch the wait, hop in the takeout line for coffee, a country loaf, and croissants to go.

When’s the last time you sat down for hickory and cedar-smoked duck, an impressive charcuterie plate that included an incredibly buttery tête de cochon, and wine from a list that reads more like a long, captivating novela? If the answer is never, get to The Morris. Here, service is impressive, the space feels intimate, and the energy is high without being chaotic. Ultimately, this spot looks a lot like a laid-back neighborhood place, but it’s actually a destination restaurant in disguise.

Media Noche in the Mission is our go-to for excellent Cuban food. The tropical space is beautiful, and the food is simple and tasty. The cubanos filled with roasted pork shoulder or crispy eggplant are awesome, but if you don’t want to eat a sandwich, they do a pretty great kale salad, as well as some quality rice bowls.

Flour + Water has crossed over from being a great restaurant to being a city-defining one. When you eat the best pasta in SF, you’ll be mentally comparing it to your last experience here. The restaurant itself is laid-back, but still feels like somewhere you’d go for a special occasion and some corn cappelletti or garganelli with braised rabbit. If you’re serious about pasta, they have a pasta tasting menu for $125 per person, but there’s nothing wrong with going a la carte. Or if you’d rather take home their fresh pasta and sauces and cook it all at home yourself, hit up Flour + Water Pasta Shop (also in the Mission) to stock up on provisions.

The First Timer’s Guide To Eating In SF guide image

SF Guide

The First Timer’s Guide To Eating In SF

This more casual spinoff from the Flour + Water team is home to excellent pizzas, terrific soft serve, and lots of wine. We love them because the crusts on their pizzas are consistently crispy and chewy, and there’s a buzz in the air that makes a meal here feel like a grown-up pizza party. Grab a table with a few friends and share pies topped with pepperoni, burrata, or mushrooms, and dip it in their creamy house-made ranch. A meal here isn’t complete without an order of mozzarella sticks, which are gooey and fried to a crisp golden brown.

If you want a more casual drop-in option for pasta, Barzotto is nearby, and here for you. Hunker down at the bar with a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs or amatriciana, and sip on a $10 glass of wine. And when you’re all done, don’t forget to order a big slice of tiramisu for dessert.

Lers Ros is a reasonably-priced, top-caliber Thai spot that you can usually roll into without worry of a wait. The menu is so gigantic that it might take 50 visits to cover it all, so best to get a head start now.

Detroit-style pizza is easy to find in SF. But for some of the best, head straight to Joyride Pizza. They have fresh, creative toppings like pineapple and Brussels sprouts, perfectly caramelized crusts, and pizza dough that stays airy and light underneath everything. The menu at Joyride also has a few pre-made combos, like the “Meatzza” with bacon, pepperoni, and sausage, or you can build your own. Don’t be surprised if you want to drink up their slightly sweet house-made marinara with a straw. The Mission outpost is more takeout-focused than the Yerba Buena Gardens location (there is no seating), and they also offer slices.

La Torta Gorda is a casual Mexican restaurant whose tortas live up to the oversized moniker. Sandwiches here come in two sizes (junior or regular), and are monstrous. Don’t believe us? Kindly refer to the Mega Cubana, a behemoth featuring milanesa, sausage, pierna, ham, chorizo, eggs, turkey, queso fresco, and American cheese that’s large enough to feed five or six people. Share it with friends at a table inside the diner-inspired spot, or under an umbrella out in the back garden.

A strong contender for the coolest restaurant building in town. Foreign Cinema is housed in an old-school movie theatre, and the owners keep with the theme by projecting classic movies on the wall of the back patio. The atmosphere is hard to beat, day or night, and the food is great—get fried chicken at dinner, without question. Even if you come here casually, Foreign Cinema always feels like a special occasion.

This Italian spot in the Mission always guarantees a good time, which is what keeps us coming back over and over again. We love them for the strong cocktails, solid pizzas and pastas, and the scene-y, energetic space that can get louder than a Justin Bieber concert. Beretta is a great utility restaurant in every sense of the word, which is why we drop in for everything from dates to casual weeknight catch-ups with friends.

Burma Love in the Mission hails from the Burma Superstar family, so you already know you’re in very good hands. It’s good for groups, good for dates, and, basically good for everything else. Which is why you should come here, order the tea leaf salad, platha with yellow curry sauce, and ohn no khao swe, and don’t think twice.

One of the earliest restaurants to spark the Cal-Ital trend, Pizzeria Delfina continues to be one of our favorite spots in the Mission. They do well-executed basics, like spaghetti, roast chicken, meatballs, and Neapolitan-inspired pies. And if your major concern is making sure everyone in your group will leave happy, this is a good choice.

Bright, buzzy, and always a fun time. The Mexican restaurant does Jaliscan food with a very California twist: the panko-crusted shrimp tacos are served on jicama tortillas; fried fish tacos are amped up with a piquin pepper-peanut sauce; and the empanadas are perfect, puffy pockets filled with mushrooms, corn, and cheese. Excellent cocktails and an atmosphere that has more buzz than a deuxmoi rumor drop—a dinner at Loló always adds up to a fun night.

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