eating san francisco’s mission


If you knew how much Mexican food I ate in San Francisco’s Mission District during my visit earlier this summer, you’d either be jealous or concerned for my well being, or maybe both. A very long day of eating started on the amazing 24th Street. Our plan was to try some tortas (for breakfast?), but our first stop was La Palma, best known for their homemade potato chips. They’re also known for selling out, which is what happened when I first visited a couple of years ago.

This time we were early and got lucky — the best $1.55 I’ve ever spent. They’re perfect in their simplicity, light, crispy and flavorful. Even if I made potato chips at home, I doubt I could do better.


We stopped by some of those old-fashioned-looking Mexican pastry shops along the way, which I always love. The best treats are the light and flakey ones, covered in sugar. These came from La Reyna and La Victoria.


Next stop, La Torta Gorda for the “enchilada torta”. The place is charmingly retro, and the sandwich is like heaven with that tender meat. Of the two spots we tried, this was my favorite. Seriously, I’d like to be eating that right now.


Onto Tortas Los Picudos for the carnitas torta. Jen preferred this one. “Loved” is more like it. She devoured this thing. The meat was fantastic, and it was nicely spicy. Highly recommended.


La Taqueria on Mission is just steps from the train station and always a must-visit. Try the chorizo taco, trust me. Your mouth will never be the same — this is very intensely flavored food. There is an article on the wall quoting Mario Batali as saying this place has the best tacos in the country. I might have to agree, but only if you like bold food.


At some point a couple of hours later we made it to Balompie for the pupusas. By the time we arrived, the place was packed with a crowd waiting for a table, so we took these to go. They give you the toppings in a separate container so your pupusas won’t get soggy before you eat them. These cornmeal cakes were filled with seafood and cheese — hard to go wrong with that.


A couple of days later, we returned to the area to find the famous taco trucks of the Mission District. We were too early to try the famous Dona Tere cart on 21st… very disappointing. We did find the trucks on Harrison though. One is at about 18th, and the other around 22nd, and I’m not totally sure, but it seems like they’re run by the same guys. (Check here to read more, in case I’ve got it wrong.) We tried the carne asada, al pastor, and carnitas — all fantastic, and of course they were dirt cheap. All I can say is that if a taco truck this good opened in NYC, the line would be 5 blocks long.


34 thoughts on “eating san francisco’s mission

  1. You… are… killing… me. The only thing saving me from dying of longing for this food is the knowledge that in one week I will be flying back to CA to have some good food, I mean to visit my family.

  2. jen: thanks for visitingjenn: me toohelene: strangely, I didn't try any fish tacos the whole timecakelaw: hmm, you should try to find a bakery like this then. i'm not sure where you live, but i've seen them in other cities like Chicago.cucinista: luckyFwLT: i don't think so

  3. Justin, I'll follow you on any food tour you choose to share with us. I love your writing and your taste in food ain't half bad either. Have a wonderful day.

  4. Justin, great photos! Being a native Californian, I feel no shame at now craving Mexican food at 9 am on a Sunday! Hah. Looks amazing. I love Mexican pastries!

  5. Great tour! Thanks for the deliciousness:) I would love for you to join me at diningwithdebbie.blogspot.com for Crock Pot Wednesday. We are all about ease of preparation and good taste.

  6. mary: thanksrose: yeah, that must be a californian thingphyllis: it's a tough calltales from SF: definitely worth finding la palmamarguerite: thanks for visitinglisa: i agreedarnold23: but i'd have to get a slow cooker firstkrista: definitely

  7. hilary: of all the Mexican bakeries I've been to, none of them have ever had signs, so no. They also all seem to be dirty cheap. I think those pastries were about 70 cents each, maybe $1.murasaki: i can understand thateliana: definitelyjuliana: thanks for visitingmiranda: a mexican cuban sandwich? i guess they're similar, but actually quite different

  8. You don't understand what the "TACO" means to me. It's the only thing I ever order when I eat out, because the only places I eat out are at Mexican restaurants. It's the Mexican in me, or it's the fact that I live in LA. Either way if we were to meet up at a Mexican restaurant at 7:00, you can bet I'll be there at 6:30 drinking my margarita and feasting on a starter taco. Long live the Taco!luv,heather

  9. Uh, I'll pick jealous please! We don't get Mexican food here at all, let alone good Mexican food like you can find abundantly in California. I got punked twice last month thinking I was going to get some good nachos -BOTH times the sauce was Bolognaise / Pizza sauce. BOTH times.I love SF, jealous of that too!

  10. kim: yeah, i'd like to try them again, very soonscootabaker: if i lived in cali, i'd probably eat a lot more mexican food… it's not so great around herehot garlic: oh man, that is NOT goodsharon: me too

  11. So much good food. I hear la palma makes good homemade tortillas. Also, farolito taueriqia is sublime and i have an ongoing addiction. also, the head taco at the tanoyense truck is also the cheapeats ans most delectable beef cheek this side of town.

  12. JEALOUS!! when i used to play in bands we'd often tour to san francisco and OH THE BURRITOS. lucky lucky you… as you can imagine there are oodles of yummy asian cuisine restaurants but hardly any mexican places that are actually good!!!

  13. I need to go to San Fran soon … just make a foodie trip out of it .. I could be there for days & still not get enough!! Thks for sharing those pics … mouthwatering :p

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