Unable to decide on a spot for dinner on a random tuesday, decided to cruise the Mission and I think I'll need to do this more than once - on one level I knew there are tons of great choices here but walking by them brought this home....here was the itinerary (2 people dining)--
1) Parked at 16th / Guerrero so started at Andalu. Shared a glass of 2000 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir ($9) and a dish of Pisto Manchego ($6). The wine is an old standby-always great. The Pisto was an eggplant base with roasted red peppers accented by sherry wine vineagar blended in, topped with a canopy of broiled manchego. A wonderful blend of acidity playing off the depth of the cheese. Good bread (acme) to dip in the P.M.....Friendly service at the bar set us on our way down 16th, right onto Valencia...
2) Ramblas, on Valencia between 16th & 17th was the next stop, after peering in the windows at Ti Couz, Tokyo a Go Go and Picaro (had been all those places before, all ok but wanted something different). Here we each had a glass of pretty pedestrian Rioja ($7 each) but man, they were HEALTHY pours!! Ordered a dish of zarzuela ($8) -white shrimp, scallops and white fish cooked in a tomato based sauce thickened with almond puree. The seafood was bland, the sauce was not (yum) but did need more acidity. The bread, a light baguette, was the best of the night ....awesome crust, light and tasteful inside. They had live music and a great vibe.
3) On an unsuccessful quest to find Boabab (??next time..), we stumbled on tiny (about 32 seats) but well publicized Limon, on 17th between Valencia and Mission. It was 9:45 when we got there but still, as we knew we were not "full diners", we felt the need to explain our quest before filling a table (there were several empty by now). We had a glass of Ici La Bas Elk Vineyard Pinot Noir 1999, Mendocino ($9), the wine of the evening, and an order of Tartare de Atun, diced tuna with shallots, pears, peppers, and pine nuts in a sesame oil with aji amarillo vinaigrette ($10). I think we shouldda went with the ceviche b/c the dish, while solid, didn't live up to it's unique description. Pears were either non existent or so finely chopped and sparse, we didn't sense them.
4) We then tried to go to Platanos and Delfina but both kitchens closed at 10. Ooops. Walking back to the car, we realized our sweet tooth needed attention, so went back to Andalu for dessert. Shared the Black Forest Torte ($7) a 3 layer delicacy that tasted wonderfully unique each bite. I only berated myself after for noticing that I could have tried multiple desserts by opting for the Tasting Platter for Two ($9) - this should be in larger font!!!! Maybe a good thing. We had 2 glasses of dessert wine - one the "recommended wine" with the dish, Yalumba Victoria Museum Muscat NV ($8) - stellar - and a glass of Dow Quinta do Bonfim 1995 ($9). The selection of wines - dessert and dinner - at this establishment is remarkable.
All in all, our foray cost us about $100. We didn't "chow" anywhere but had plenty to eat and drink over the course of the evening. It was great to see a variety of places and next time, I want to try the aforementioned Platanos, Delfina and Boabob....but most of the fun is stumbling upon places. And of course, the Mission is just one neighborhood to consider. reminds me of why I love San Fran!