On Good Eats in the Mission
San Francisco is a foodie town. From the farmers market at the Ferry Building to hipster cafés and ultra-specialized restaurants in gentrified parts of the Mission (vegetarian Japanese restaurant, anyone?), food isn’t about sustenance but about experiences. But are the single vintage on-site conched chocolates worth your hard earned buck? Are there reasonably priced good eats in the Mission?
Here are my favorites that serve down to earth good eats (with a few hipster places that don’t break the bank).
- The Jelly Donut: neighborhood donut place that offers a wide variety of standards (raised, old fashioned, crullers, buttermilk). It seems like the owner throws in a few donut holes on the house with every purchase. Go down the same street a few blocks, you can get exotic concoctions like passion fruit chocolate chip cake donuts, but they will set you back about $3 per donut, where the Jelly Donut gives you the classics done well for…regular donut prices.
- Dandelion: Chocolates, hot chocolates, desserts. It is one of those hipster places, but it’s also not a poser. They sell cacao beans, nibs, chocolate bars with various profiles, (conched on site), multiple types of drinking chocolate (thick European is my favorite), with chocolate-based desserts. Skip their chocolate chip cookie, though. I don’t know why a chocolate place skimps on chocolate chips for its cookies. Specialties’ chocolate chip cookies are far better.
- Tartine: Bakery and café. It’s probably considered hipster, though it was famous before hipsters discovered it. Most of their breads come out at 4:30 pm but there’ll be a queue formed already, so if you don’t want to be disappointed, come earlier and have them take your name for a loaf of Ancient Grains bread, heck, whatever they will give you, while you savor one of many pastries you can purchase. Their cheese brioche is phenomenal and Tartine is the only bakery we found that sells Scandinavian style rye bread (rugbrød). (Odd that Andersen Bakery does not!)
- Basa Seafood Express: sushi, poke, shrimp ceviche, etc. for take out (with a few tables if you want to eat in) as well as fresh fish and seafood. Prices were reasonable.
- El Farolito: right by the 24th & Mission BART station, it does look sketchy, with a very narrow layout just enough to have a single row of tables, but you know the place is legit when the cashier addresses you as “boss” (well, if you are a guy) and the orders are called out first in Spanish at lunch time when the place is packed with Spanish-speaking folks. In comes the hungry student types at dinner time when a long line forms. They are known for their super burritos. If you need your beans vegan, move along, this isn’t the place you are looking for.
- Limón Rotisserie (multiple locations): Peruvian place. Their roasted chicken plates are a great value, but make sure to go with a group so you can share their mixed ceviche and the grilled octopus. Skip their version of the paella though.
- Aslam’s Rasoi: Indian/Pakistani restaurant. Pricier than Pakwan on 16th Street (which is a cafeteria style casual place), but you can taste the difference in the depth of the flavors.
Photo: Artwork displayed at Humphry Slocombe ice cream, where the ice cream is good but quite pricey (more than $4 a scoop), with flavors like Secret Breakfast, which has bourbon and cornflakes.