The lively Mission District in San Francisco is a hub of excellent dining spots, making a narrow list of choices a near impossibility. Here's a starter list of places to try if you find yourself in the area (in alphabetical order). Ranging from gourmet cuisine to local fare, to unforgettable donuts, these establishments offer a unique experience. Don't forget to try a burrito at one of the many Taquerias for a true Mission District experience.
You'll have to book way out to get a spot at this popular eatery -- or take a chance at random bar seating. It's a pretty crowded place, and the quarters are a little tight. But these drawbacks aside, it's also one of the Italian favorites around town, producing consistent, good, rustic Mediterranean food.
Pizzeria Delfina, the more casual counterpart to Delfina, has a selection pizza (Margherita, Napoletana), antipasti and Dolce, in addition to its wine list (most available by the glass).
Bi-Rite Creamery is precisely what the name suggests -- a favorite ice cream spot using organic ingredients and rewarding the palate with flavors like coffee toffee and salted caramel. Because of Bi-Rite's proximity to Dolores Park, the sunny, weekend days bring out the dairy fans. You can also get popsicles, like a mint-tinged pineapple flavor, as well as a selection of baked goods.
You can count on a crowd at this popular bakery that carries eclairs, flourless mousse cake, bread pudding and croissants. You can also indulge in more substantial eats like a Croque Monsieur or one of a variety of pressed sandwiches available at lunchtime (noon).
Don't expect the Krispy Creme model at Dynamo. Flavors include more experimental and organic turns like lemon pistachio, maple bacon and chocolate spice. The donuts are somewhere between the texture of a cake donut and its more traditional brethren. You can also find Dynamo goods at Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission.
For more traditional donuts, try The Jelly Donut at 3198 24th Street (at Van Ness).
For another Mission coffee institution, head over to Ritual Coffee Roasters, a Mission favorite serving green coffee selections and striving for perfection in roasting technique.
Foreign Cinema is an SF institution that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019, and is known for its top-notch California-Mediterranean eats and sleek industrial-chic design, not to mention its ongoing movie screenings. Book a table on the restaurant's heated courtyard to catch classic films like Good Morning Vietnam and The Outsiders while you dine. Partner chefs and owners Gayle Pirie and John Clark keep things fresh with an ever-changing menu of delightful dishes like grilled heritage pork chop with Tunisian spices and Madras curry sesame fried chicken. Dinner is delicious, but brunch is a true standout.
The family-owned Limon stands out for its Peruvian-inspired menu and ceviche selections. The food is not strictly traditional, it's infused with other global flavors. The decor in the two-level venue is vibrant, the place is busy, service is friendly and you can enjoy wine by the glass or bottle, house cocktails, or a pitcher of sangria with your entrees and shared plates.
When it comes to taquerias and burritos, opinions can be heated. I admit to some Southern Californian longings when it comes to family-style Mexican restaurants (in the vein of Lucy's El Adobe, if you know the spot).
A few Mission favorites to experiment with: El Farolito, Pancho Villa, and La Taqueria. La Taqueria closes the earliest in the evening (9p most nights), followed by Pancho Villa at midnight and El Farolito past midnight and well into the post-cocktail hours.
What began as an underground pop-up in 2009 has morphed into San Francisco's most illustrious supper club: a one-of-a-kind social dining experience in the heart of the city's Mission District. Two groups of 40 ticketed guests each flock to this lofty, industrial space Tuesday through Saturday evenings to enjoy Chef David Barzelay's ever-changing tasting menu, first mingling over hors d'oeuvres and punch in the restaurant's living room-style mezzanine, then sitting down to a 14+ course meal at two communal long tables as the kitchen works its magic feverishly in full view. An optional pairing of wines and other libations perfectly compliments Lazy Bear's exquisite Modern American offerings.