The Best Restaurants In The Mission guide image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

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

$$$$

2400 Harrison St, San Francisco
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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 mushrooms that've 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 tableside. Enjoying it all on floral plates with a glass of natural wine in hand is an ideal way to spend date nights, birthdays with a few close friends, and solo dinners celebrating you finally working up the courage to ask your landlord for a new fridge. 

San Ho Won’s galbi is capable of inducing epiphanies. It’s glistening, charred around the edges, and every bite of the melty meat comes with the realization that you’ll probably never eat short ribs this good again. But there's more to this upscale Korean restaurant than galbi. A soy, sake, and garlic marinade gives the golden-brown rotisserie chicken a perfectly savory and slightly sweet flavor. And the crispy scallion pancakes, honey butter-topped grilled corn, and light and fluffy egg soufflé that slowly deflates when you dive in with a spoon will make you dance in your seat. The dark, minimalist restaurant is one to keep top of mind for birthdays, special group dinners, and date nights. Or really, any time you want to put on a nice sweater and feast on the best Korean BBQ in the city.

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We beeline to this Oaxacan restaurant 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 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.

Taishoken specializes in tsukemen, a dipping ramen you won’t find at most Japanese spots in SF. Their version is one you should clear your schedule and get to immediately. The broth is rich with an intense pork-y flavor, the noodles have an ideal chew to them, and the sous-vide chashu basically falls apart when you poke it with a chopstick. Other dishes, like spicy cucumber salad and chicken karaage, and the spicy ramen with thinner noodles are also deserving of your time. Add shochu cocktails, plum wines, and a swanky dining room into the mix, and you have a spot that’s great for quick date nights and group hands in the middle of the week. 

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 $97 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.

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

Dancing Yak imageoverride image
8.5

Dancing Yak

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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 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 to celebrate a special occasion, unwind after a long week with a group of friends, or post up at the bar alone for pasta and wine.

Where To Get Some Pasta And A Glass Of Wine By Yourself guide image

SF Guide

Where To Get Some Pasta And A Glass Of Wine By Yourself

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 curtido that comes on the side.

Handroll Project is the only place in town where you can sit alongside 13 raw fish enthusiasts, and devour temaki that’ll make you reconsider everything you know about combining seafood with rice. Diced scallop is coated in creamy aioli and slices of avocado. Pickled radish is mixed in with fatty tuna to add a great crunch. And buttery wagyu gets topped with crunchy garlic chips and chives. The glistening toppings and perfectly vinegar-y rice are held together by nori that’s so crisp you could snap off a piece like a cracker. Yes, Handroll Project is one of the toughest reservations to snag, but we think you should still set all the necessary alarms and get here. 

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 to just about everything in between. 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 $7.50. 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.

If you’ve never eaten panuchos in a place with flashing lights and reggaeton playing at full blast, go to Poc-Chuc. The Yucatecan spot in the Mission transforms into a karaoke bar with a DJ and a fog machine four nights a week. At times it can feel more like a nightclub or a wedding dance floor than a spot to dive into saucy cochinita pibil and chicken drenched in nutty mole. But it’s both, and the food alone keeps us coming back. Housemade tortillas are thick and chewy. Huge portions of citrus-y grilled pork and zingy aguachile will have you reaching for another helping, and another. And bucketfuls of Modelos should be on the table, too. 

Good Good Culture Club feels like a backyard party we never want to leave. Dishes are influenced by the foods of Laos, Thailand, the Philippines, and more. Cocktails and natural wine flow all night, and the rooftop with leafy palms and blue 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, and short ribs with a sweet sesame-date glaze. It will be an exercise in self-control to not order everything, and save room for dessert—the “Halo Ha-Lao,” a pile of shiso shaved ice with ube ice cream, tapioca, and mango jellies, is core memory material.

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, well-seasoned 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.

The Best Burritos In San Francisco guide image

SF Guide

The Best Burritos In San Francisco

Whenever the craving for fresh aguachile, incredible ceviches, and tender quesabirria hits, our internal GPS always leads us 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 string-light-filled courtyard is surrounded by plants, and the high-ceilinged dining room reminds us of a day spa we'd gladly move into. Space aside, the izakaya food keeps us coming back. Dishes are last-meal worthy, like the crispy-skinned tsukune yakitori with a side of rich egg yolk dipping sauce, and hand-rolled udon topped with a lingcod fishcake that soaks up dashi broth like a sponge. Get here with your parents, a group of friends, or someone you want to impress.

Mission Curry House has something for everyone, whether you’re in the mood to take down a platter of plump chicken momos or want to slather garlic naan in chicken korma. After a long afternoon of petting dogs at Dolores Park or shopping along Valencia Street, we like to fuel back up by ordering our body weight in excellent dishes from the extensive menu. Dosas are as long as a child’s baseball bat, and fragrant biryanis overflow with tender meat. Much like deciding which season of Fleabag to rewatch first, there’s no wrong way to order. 

Where To Eat Indian Food In San Francisco guide image

SF Guide

Where To Eat Indian Food In San Francisco

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. 

Penny Roma is the younger sibling restaurant to the 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 buy a one-way ticket to a countryside villa somewhere in Italy. The fresh, handmade pastas change from time to time—if it's on the menu, 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. Sip on some wine as you contemplate the pros and cons of booking that flight.

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.

Tartine Manufactory, the younger and even more ambitious sibling of Tartine Bakery (which is also in the Mission, and worth your time), 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.

In a Venn diagram of easy walk-in restaurants for groups and spots serving food worth crossing town for, Lers Ros fits right in the middle. The Thai restaurant (with additional locations in Hayes Valley and the Tenderloin) has a novel-length menu of noodle dishes, curries, and soups that pack so much flavor and spice you’ll mutter amazed expletives after every bite. It would take multiple months and a dedicated spreadsheet to make your way through the menu (which actually sounds fun). But you can’t go wrong with the stir-fried pork belly or coconut and lemongrass soup with prawns.

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.

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 easygoing, 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, the pasta tasting menu is $125 per person, but there’s nothing wrong with 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.

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SF Guide

The First Timer’s Guide To Eating In SF

We wish we could set up our desks in the dining room at Barzotto so we could have their spaghetti and meatballs on standby as our daily mid-day snack. The counter-service Italian place is a great casual option when you’re in the Mission—all of the pastas are made in house, are delicious, and, at under $20 each, are actually affordable enough for a random weeknight catch-up with a few friends. They also have $10 glasses of wine and tiramisu that we’d come in for on its own.

Detroit-style pizza is easy to find in SF. But for some of the best, head 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 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.

The 26 Best Pizza Places In San Francisco guide image

SF Guide

The 26 Best Pizza Places In San Francisco

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.

Foreign Cinema is hands-down one of the most unmissable and unique dining experiences in the city. To get here, walk on a red carpet down a long hallway before emerging into a beautiful courtyard with high white walls, twinkling string lights, and a movie playing in the background. The relaxed patio setting isn’t the only reason Foreign Cinema is a standout. It’s also the perfect spot to hunker down over wine and oysters, or one of the dishes from their changing menu of things like beef carpaccio, smoked salmon, or ceviche. Getting to the patio for brunch is also never a bad idea. Order the fried chicken or the Persian omelet.

Where To Have A Unique Dining Experience In SF guide image

SF Guide

Where To Have A Unique Dining Experience In SF

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 coconut-y 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 an airline promo sale—a dinner at Loló will add up to a fun night, without fail.

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