The world is changing. The Bay Area is changing. Our shops and studios and apartments and restaurants are changing.
But there are some delicious dining options even in the Mission that are still here. Don’t blame me for blowing up your spot, these places deserve to see more traffic. And while I don’t give a fuck what Yelp ratings indicate about a place, I believe in real people’s photos of real people’s food. Your food doesn’t have to be pretty with a garnish, served under a reclaimed wood and glass bottle light fixture while Tame Impala plays over the sound system to be worth eating.
The Mission isn’t just about burritos (world-class though they are) so expand your mind and your stomach.
2301 Mission St
What do you know about Peru besides the profile pics everyone posts on okcupid or tinder on that damned mountain? I’ll bet you didn’t know about incredible ceviche or crazy satisfying escabeche. Cholo Soy is particularly hard to find too, if you aren’t looking for it. Tucked inside a small pink retail center on Mission, you tuck up for daily specials that have never once let me down. I’ve been there every day of the week. I get the ceviche 9 times out of 10. Plus you should get indigestion from drinking too much Inca Kola at least once in your life.
Basa Seafood Express
3064 24th St
Hands-down my favorite seafood place in San Francisco. Have you ever walked into a seafood shop and not gotten hit with fish smell? Go to Basa. Eat their fried oysters. Hell, eat their fresh raw oysters. They’ll shuck them for you. Get the chowder in the bread bowl. Grab some sushi. But above all, please, order the creamy salmo poke. I have dreams about the poke. I never even knew caviar could be green. And thank the nice, nice people behind the counter who work so hard to give you clean, fresh fish at an amazing price.
Little Heaven Deli
2348 Mission St
I firmly believe that we as a society do not eat enough crepes. In fact, I’m a bit sick of all the twee, precious potted or deconstructed or aflame desserts out there. Do you want a giant pancake filled with chocolate and fruit with mountains of whipped cream? Of course you do. You’re in America. Get yourself to this tiny, almost literal hole-in-the-wall and fill your mouth with sweet or savory warm morsels. And look at that tiny cup of something caffeinated! You want to drink it, I know you do.
1100 Mission St
Someone once told me the sandwiches at Lucca Ravioli weren’t great because they didn’t add condiments. I went there and ordered an “anything” sandwich, meaning I told them I’ll eat any combination of delicious cured meats…including and especially headcheese. Get with it, y’all. Headcheese is the new bologna. Imagine my delight when I asked if they made their own pesto, if I could have said pesto smeared on my sandwich and they said yes to both. So yes, Lucca Ravioli has pasta and sundry Italian goods that are totally worth going to. But the real joy is in that massive meat sandwich topped with homemade pesto. The lesson here? Listen to no one and always ask for things nicely.
Irma’s Pampanga Restaurant
2901 16th St
I’m not an expert in Filipino food and have no doubt there’s better to be found elsewhere in the Bay. However, I am an expert at buffets and eating lots of stewed things. The best eating cultures believe in one-pot mixtures of food stuff and Irma’s puts them all out for you to choose. And to spend less than $10 on 2 entrees with rice is good enough without factoring in the world of flavor most of you are probably missing out on. Do not fear the fish sauce. Let it be your friend. Just because something is lumpy and made of unknown meat does not mean it isn’t great. Plus you can just ask them what the meat is. Trust me. Trust the sauce.
2399 Mission St
So no, the BBQ sauce isn’t great. I’m from the South and we have very high standards there. The ribs are also not particularly great. You know what is? Rotisserie chicken on a pile of potato salad. Little slices of pie and a weird mountain of spaghetti that has a lonely phallic sausage on top. It’s comfort food and it isn’t meant to be neat. It’s meant to stick to your ribs, feel worth it and involve heavenly chicken grease floating in the air around you. I know you’ve smelled it wafting as you walk past. It’s like Tommy’s Joynt without all the trappings, booze or variety. Good enough for me.
Mission Banh Mi
2200 Mission St
Duc Loi in general is a godsend of a grocery store. If ever you need an Asian ingredient, chances are they have it. But more importantly, if you are like me and crave funky liver-smeared sandwiches at 8 in the morning, they will be there for you. For $6, you get a freshly loaded up sandwich, bursting with pickles and meat and crisp bread. Sometimes, they even have Vietnamese tapioca treats which you should definitely not avoid. It’s fast, it’s the best bahn mi you’re going to get in the Mission and you can wander off for soda while they make it. Please, never go away, Duc Loi.