San Francisco's Mission District is one of the city's cultural hubs, an exciting mix of stores, bars, and restaurants that is unlike anywhere else in the city. You'll find no shortage of inventive cuisine here, from modern Chinese dishes to Italian eats made with fresh Northern Californian ingredients. Here are 12 of the neighborhood's most alluring eateries. Get ready to indulge!
Snack on meats and cheeses, chicken tacos, Japanese "tater-tots," and burrata-topped Tartine toast at this always-lively bar and eatery. Highballs are a speciality and food is served well into the evening in this casual space. Upstairs you'll find Over Proof, a cozy cocktail lounge that's a bit more luxe, with multi-course cocktail tastings, inventive libations, and foods like tinned fish and caviar.
This acclaimed SF supper club serves two meals a night (Tuesday through Saturday) to 40 ticketed guests a piece in a communal setting. Chef David Barzelay doles out more than 14 courses of Modern American offerings, each meal utilizing hyper-seasonal ingredients and taking patrons on a culinary journey of artisan-crafted creations. Imbibing pairings are available.
It's always a party at Farmhouse Kitchen, where an attentive staff serves up both innovative and traditional Thai dishes in a spacious setting with communal tables. Expect dishes like Hat Yai fried chicken, Panang curry, and Pad Char shrimps with blue flower rice—not to mention plenty of spice. The restaurant even boasts its own "secret" menu, with its Volcano Noodle being a perennial (and oh-so-fiery!) favorite. There are additional Farmhouse restaurants in Oakland and Portland, Oregon.
For more than 20 years, Foreign Cinema has been drawing local residents to its landmark eatery for an ever-changing array of California/Mediterranean-inspired eats and a curated selection of films screened in an outdoor courtyard. Dine on entrées such as seared Maine sea scallops with roasted Brussel sprouts or orecchiette pasta mixed with English peas and fresh ricotta cheese while watching movies like The French Connection. The restaurant's interior is spacious and relaxed with plenty of industrial charm. Brunch here is also a winner, with offerings that include Dungeness crab frittata and tropical French toast.
Opened in 2009, Flour + Water specializes in regional Italian foods made with Northern California ingredients. This cozy 49-seat space is especially known for its handmade pastas and Neapolitan-style pizzas. Along with à la carte entrées like black garlic & mushroom tortellini with Périgord truffle, the restaurant features multi-course pasta tastings for the entire party. They also offer spaces suited for intimate dinners and group gatherings as well as pasta-making classes.
Bright, modern, and Michelin-starred, Al's Place serves up Northern California regional cuisine with a focus on fish and meat dishes served as sides. Despite its pedigree, the eatery remains casual and relaxed. Choose from a menu of “snackels,” hot and cold plates, limited-availability entrées, or a family-style. There's also a heated outdoor patio perfect for larger parties.
Both kitschy and colorful, the family-owned Loló is a lively space with an emphasis on Jaliscan-California cuisine. The eatery's interior offers plenty to look at when you're between small plates. Entrées range from seared pork belly tostados tossed with habanero and topped with black been purée to shrimp and rock fish ceviche. Don't miss the bar's selection of mezcal and agave-based cocktails—it's one of the city's best.
What began as a local neighborhood pop-up has morphed into a nationally-known culinary frontrunner, with outposts in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. Originally known as Mission Street Food, this wonderfully innovative eatery cooks up Chinese cuisine utilizing a unique mix of Eastern and Western techniques. Dishes include lamb and squid ink pappardelle, kung pao pastrami, and fried and crispy General Tso's baby back pork rib. Bring your friends or family for sharable eats in this casual, laid-back space.
Awash in light tropical colors that call to mind the Caribbean Sea, Media Noche is one of the city's most popular gourmet fast-casual spaces. Patrons line up at the counter of this Cuban-inspired eatery to put in orders for sandwiches, salads, and bowls of roasted mojo chicken and slow-braised brisket served with black beans, rice, and coconut slaw. The restaurant is especially known for its Cubano sandwich: roasted mojo pork shoulder topped with smoked ham, Swiss cheese, and mustard. Beer, wine, sangria, and mimosas are also available, as is a kids' menu with fried chicken and grilled cheese. Food is available for both dine-in and take-out.
A long-running taqueria serving up some of the best Mexican fare in town, Pancho Villa has always been a standard among the local late-night bar crowd; it's the perfect place for affordable eats in a spacious, no-frills setting. Get in line to try one of their stuffed Mission-style burritos (fillings range from carnitas to seafood), or opt for a quesadilla, enchiladas, or tamales instead. Mariachi performers often walk through on weekends. The salsa here is award-winning—get some to go!
The Mission is home to a large Salvadoran population—so it only makes sense that it's also where you'll find one of the best pupuserias in town. The soccer-themed Balompié Cafe has been a neighborhood staple for more than three decades, and a perfect place for filling up on pupusas any time of day. These cheese-filled, corn maize pancakes are pure Salvadoran comfort food, and come stuffed with everything from ground pork to spinach, mushrooms, and carrots. This budget-friendly eatery also serves up entrées of fish, meat, and chicken with sides of rice, beans, and salad.
An alternative to the always-busy Burma Superstar in San Francisco's Richmond neighborhood, this more modern sister eatery offers family-style dining at its best. Both local residents and travelers alike pour into this often buzzy space for Burmese specialities like garlic noodles with shrimp, ching mong (shrimp with Burmese sour leaves), and wok-tossed chili with sous-vide pork. But it's the salads—namely the 22-ingredient Rainbow Salad and the restaurant's legendary laphet (tea-leaf salad)—that draw patrons in droves.