A Guide to Eating and Imbibing in San Francisco's Dynamic Mission District

Six hot restaurants and bars in the city's foodie hub

The Mission is currently home to a disproportionate number of San Francisco’s top restaurants and bars, but the colorful and diverse neighborhood has a rich history. Missionaries arrived to the city in the late 1700s, and Mission Dolores on 16th Street was founded in 1776, making it the oldest structure in San Francisco. Since the second half of the 20th century, the neighborhood has been home to a vibrant Hispanic community. Over the past two decades, it has evolved from somewhat down and out to one of the city’s most hip and energetic districts, home to Latin American families as well as hipsters, artists and big-tech employees. Today, the eating runs the gamut from humble taquerias to high-end establishments. Latin food—of all types—has always had a strong presence, but cutting-edge Asian and California-inspired eateries have found a place here, along with great wine bars and markets featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients. In a city of microclimates (often cool and foggy), it’s one of the sunniest areas, making it all the more enjoyable to grab a meal or a drink on one of its street corners or take in the scene along Valencia Street. Here, a list of highlights that will give you a taste of the Mission.

Sangria at El Techo (@Aubrie Pick)

El Techo de Lolinda, an expansive rooftop bar with a sweeping view of the city skyline, recently opened to much fanfare. Tasty nibbles include empanadas, ceviche and meat skewers. Drinks range from pisco-based cocktails to esoteric Brazilian beer. The downstairs dining room has a more serious, meat-focused menu. 2518 Mission St., San Francisco, 415.550.6970

If you're looking for a glass of something divine, and maybe a bite to go with it, St. Vincent, opened by former Quince sommelier David Lynch, off ers a great selection by the glass and even sells wine retail on the weekends. The place is named after a Spanish deacon who was the patron saint of wine and vinegar makers. Menu offerings range from rabbit meatballs to uni on toast, and the vast Old World wine selection features a lineup of 100 wines under $100. 1270 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415.285.1200

Hungry for a midday snack or in search of pristine ingredients for your supper or picnic? Bi-Rite, which has two markets and creameries in San Francisco, is a perfect place to peruse an incredible selection of local fruit, cheese, vegetables, grains and locally sourced meats. 3639 18th St., San Francisco, 415.241.9760

Beyond sushi and sashimi, the many genres of Japanese food have taken the city by storm, including ramen, a beloved bowl of noodle-filled soup. Etiquette dictates that you slurp it when you eat it, which is easy to do in a fun and causal place like Ken Ken Ramen. Choose from miso, soy and vegan broth and add additional fixings like extra pork, slow-cooked egg or veggies. 3378 18th St., San Francisco, 415.967.2636

Commonwealth hits the high notes with locally sourced and beautifully prepared dishes. The modern California restaurant has Asian-influenced plates with seaweed and tea-smoked duck, raw meat and fish offerings and lots of delicious proteins like pork belly. The wine list is innovative, with great Old World choices. 2224 Mission St., San Francisco, 415.355.1500

For afternoon pizza, an after-dinner cocktail or just a great view of Valencia Street action, head to Beretta. Simple, Italian comfort food rounds out a menu that includes thin-crust pizzas, meatballs, pasta and fritto misto. The cocktails are both classic and newfangled, and wine by the glass covers Italian and California territory. 1199 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415.695.1199

  

Hot in other Hoods

Food at Park Tavern and Hakkasan

  • EMBARCADERO: On prime waterfront real estate, Coqueta is noted local chef Michael Chiarello’s take on a Spanish restaurant. Pier 5, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, 415.704.8866 
  • NORTH BEACH: Park Tavern on Washington Square Park offers a chic vibe and upscale bar food. 1652 Stockton St., San Francisco, 415.989.7300 
  • FINANCIAL DISTRICT: Hakkasan features elegant Chinese banquet-influenced cuisine. 1 Kearny St., San Francisco, 415.829.8148
  • SOMA: Cavalier, located at the chic Hotel Zetta, is the latest addition to the neighborhood, with high-end British gastro-pub food. 360 Jessie St., San Francisco, 415.321.6000
  • NOB HILL: 1760 highlights Italian- and California-influenced dining from the family behind the acclaimed Acquerello. 1760 Polk St., San Francisco, 415.359.1212