San Francisco’s Mission District has been home to a large Mexican population for years. As such, the Mexican food is quite authentic with taquerias lining Mission and Valencia streets begging for the late-night crowd to come in and grab a bite to eat. While the taqueria scene offers quick, authentic options, other more contemporary Mexican restaurants have started attracting customers with their organic ingredients and funky, colorful interiors. What was once thought of as a greasier food option has now been turned into a healthy choice with even vegan options on several Mexican-restaurant menus. So whatever your preference, check out one of these five Mexican restaurants for a meal filled with flavor and spice.
Gracias Madre brings a sustainable attitude to San Francisco Mexican food with its menu of only-vegan ingredients. In place of meat and cheese commonly found in Mexican dishes, fresh veggies and fruits such as grilled plantains, sweet potatoes and cauliflower make up the menu. The same spice and flavors used in the organic dishes such as spicy mole enchiladas and sautéed prickly pear cactus make this Mexican restaurant worth the trip, even for non-vegan eaters.
Sustainable and organic are also words to describe area-favorite Nopalito. The best thing about the restaurant is you can see the handmade tortillas being made in front of you. Plus, the restaurant offers authentic dishes such as pozole rojo, a Mexican soup of pork shoulder, hominy and ancho chile. While the menu is traditional, the interior décor is more contemporary with wooden tables and fun colorful lights hanging from the ceiling. The restaurant is so delicious, Guy Fieri recently showcased it on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Taquerias line the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District, but not many can compete with the popularity of La Taqueria. The restaurant is constantly revered by local magazines as having one of the best burritos and tacos in the Bay Area. The meat is always juicy and tacos come in both crispy and soft shells — a rarity at SF taquerias. Plus, its grab-and-go options means quality Mexican food, fast. The never-ending supply of salsa at the restaurant’s salsa bar is another added bonus.
If you’re looking for a trendier Mexican restaurant, look no further than Mamacita in the city’s Marina District. It combines the California fresh ingredient mentality with traditional Mexican dishes. Tacos are made using house-made tortillas and one of eight kinds of meat. The less traditional barbacoa de chivo, for instance, includes Marin Sun Farms goat with broccolini. Sides range from kale to brussels sprouts to heirloom beans. The restaurant’s interior fits the trendy bill as well, with funky star-shaped chandeliers and candles placed on each wooden table.
Loló offers Mexican-inspired fare in tapas-style small plates, perfect for groups to share. The empanadas made with Portobello mushroom and gorditas made with pulled short rib are so flavorful they melt in your mouth. The cocktail menu is equally as noteworthy and is even more extensive than the food menu. Guests can choose from several seasonal cocktails that include the same agave distillate Mezcal ingredient. The interior is also funky, decorated with bright ornaments such as the doilies lining one of the hot-pink walls.