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The Mission District continues to retain its longstanding rank as the #1 restaurant neighborhood in the Bay Area and perhaps the world. It has been a long run where no San Francisco neighborhood or even another SF Bay Area City has had more critically acclaimed restaurants than the historic Inner Mission.
The Mission is full of restaurants at home on the world culinary stage, making this neighborhood a true Epicurean destination.
Not only is it home to the most uniquely cultural hodgepodge of cuisines, but many establishments focus on sustainable local and craft foods that are on the forefront of the new dining experience.
Mission restaurants range from small cafés to upscale eateries. You can grab some great Mexican taqueria food at Cancún, try upscale Jalisco treats at Loló, or sample delicious tacos at Tacolicious.
Looking for an Argentinian steak house? Try Lolinda. Craving fresh pasta? Check out Delfina. If you are down for some truly local farm-to-table inspired dishes check out Foreign Cinema where you can also take in a great film.
The café culture is equally diverse, with coffee houses like Revolution Cafe where you can get sandwiches, salads and sweets to go along with specialty coffee drinks, beer and wine as well as live entertainment every evening. Mission breakfast joints like The Red Café are always on a local’s radar after a night out. No matter what you crave you can find it in this lip-smacking good food neighborhood.
The Mission's first two-star restaurant, David Barzelay's Lazy Bear continues to sell out weekends well in advance for their Modern American fine dining in a unique dinner party format. Famed dishes include Grilled Lamb, Carrot, Spring Herbs and Flowers and San Francisco Coast King Salmon, English Peas, Preserved Citrus, Cured Roe, Dill.
At Californios', Chef-owner Val M. Cantu changes the menu nightly and includes local fare but his signature has become taking familiar Mexican classics such as tacos, flautas and tres frijoles and turning them into something spectacular. Co-owner Charlotte Randolph maintains the wine list and is celebrated for her impeccable pairings.
Sweetbreads poached in beeswax; avocado coated in sesame and nori, and garnished with popcorn, charred romaine and yuzu kosho milk; poached oysters accompanied by potatoes cooked in clay with squid ink meringue, are just some of the offerings from Jason Fox and Ian Muntzert’s kitchen, at Commonwealth.
18 Reasons brings food education to people of all backgrounds and interests, helping all communities maximize their food resources, while building skills and making connections. Many local producers teach classes on topics from cheese making, to canning and pickling, to cuisines from around the world. Celebrating locally grown and craft foods truly express the values and food culture that embody the Mission.
It started as the little storefront on Guerrero Street called Blue Space. It was acquired by the owners of Bi-Rite Market in 2007 as a venue to further connect neighbors with producers of food and wine. In 2013 it merged with Three Squares and expanded its programming to offer free cooking classes for low-income families in the community. It also launched the first Food & Farm Film Festival which looks to become an annual Mission event.
So, why 18 Reasons? It's a nod to a large sign that sat atop a building housing a furniture store at the corner of 17th and Mission Streets for decades which simply and quite mysteriously stated: "17 Reasons." That sign was replaced by an ordinary billboard in 2002. So, the project was renamed to pay tribute to the much-missed neighborhood icon and because the project space sits on 18th Street. Besides, it never hurts to have one more reason, right?
For the DIY foodie, stop in at Bi-Rite Market, where they specialize in homemade prepared foods, farm-direct produce, sustainably-raised meats and more. Gus's Market on 17th and Harrison is a part of a local family-run market chain with 40 years serving San Francisco. Rainbow Grocery co-op market stocks a range of organic vegetarian grocery items, bulk goods & supplements. For a wide selection of Middle East and Asian specialty foods, visit Samiramis.