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Mission Impossible – how many tacos is too many? (San Francisco)

grayelf | Nov 20, 200808:50 AM

It would seem no trip to San Francisco is complete for us without a day in the Mission. With the help of a number of you good ’Hounds in this thread
we had a nifty itinerary in hand for our foray on Sat, Nov 8. We entered from Vermont Street in Potrero Hill after walking down the true crookedest street in the world. We were diverted by the Gothic feel of a hospital in this area that had been carbuncled by modern day fire stairs.

Our first food related stop was El Metate (2406 Bryant at 22nd) which has a great little store attached to a restaurant. It was too soon after our porchetta fest at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market to eat so we contented ourselves with a look around, and of course I had to buy a few bags of Mexican snack foods. We were also too early for Dona Tere’s cart at 21st and Alabama which is there from 2-9; I was sad to have missed her elote and flautas. We continued on to peek into the St Francis Fountain (2801 24th Street between Bryant and York). As per the warnings, it was very busy but it is indeed a great throwback and would be a fun place for a sweet bite.

We also looked into El Delfin at 3066 24th St between Treat and Folsom, which looked like a worthy destination for a sit-down dinner. I am intrigued by the volcan en molcajete. I had read there were two Rancho Grandes but there appears only to be one now at 3064 24th St. We checked out this combination grocery/butcher/loncheria and though I was tempted by the cactus tacos (which you can order singly apparently), the tummy was still too full.

We decided instead to continue on to meet the BIL at Philz Coffee (3101 24th at Folsom) to see what all the fuss was about. Philz can only be described as funky, with slouch couches and paraphernalia galore but it has such a lived in comfortable feeling, I could see why so many are converts to the atmosphere. The staff were very helpful and not at all taken aback when we decided to split a chai tea with mint. Because we were waiting for our third party, we opted to sit on one of the benches outside and watch the street scene for a bit in the persistent Scotch mist of rain that had been following us for a while. The chai was surprisingly delicious and very much to both of our taste with the cardamom more subtle than is often the case and the mint leave adding a little boost of flavour. A great alternative if you’re not feeling coffee-ish. The SO also took the opportunity to devour one of the beautiful little Red Rome apples we had purchased earlier at the FPFM.

Since the BIL was still on his way, we crossed over to Taqueria Guadalajara for what I had read were “the best” carnitas in the Mission, with the pork fried so crisp it’s almost bacon-like. I don’t usually go for the super versions of things but on a recommendation I added the avocado and crema ($3.45 I believe) and I must say it was very good indeed. The house sauce which they added was tasty and not too incendiary – all in all a very successful taco. My shyness about picture taking came back with the arrival of the BIL so no shots of the samples, sorry.

After a pit stop at La Palma Mexicatessen to buy some excellent housemade papitas (potato chips), we decided to head over to Mission Street and check out some of the places on Melanie Wong’s recent crawl. Dianda’s at 2883 Mission is an Italian bakery with a Latin feel and some very ornate cakes on offer. Mr Pollo with its Colombian and Ecuadorian offerings also looked promising. We somehow missed the King’s Bakery Café at 2846 Mission with its bbq pork buns.

We walked up a bit to hit La Taqueria as we had enjoyed it very much in April. I ordered the carnitas taco dorado after a very nice chat with the owner and while I found this example a tad wet it was just as tasty as last time. We parted company with the BIL and struck out to find the “mall” with the Peruvian grocer El Perol and many other points of interest including Altena where we indulged in a couple of carnitas tacos ($2.75) which were very tasty but different from Guadalajara’s (less crunchy).

Guatemalan and Nicaraguan restaurants – Acaxutla at 2282 Mission near 18th and Las Tinajas at 2338 Mission near 19th -- both struck us as places to order meals so we pushed on. Somewhere in here we had a lovely walk up Bartlett Street to ogle the architecture and popped into the Mission library for the same reason. We also found the most amazing antiques/props store which has won all manner of awards, and of course had to hit the Pirate Store on Valencia for some lard-related paraphernalia.

By this time I was beginning to wane a bit so we arranged to meet up with the BIL again at Four Barrel Coffee for a restorative decaf cappuccino and a little rest before an early dinner at Bar Tartine. While I didn’t get the chance to sample quite as many tacos as I would have liked thanks to the staying power of the Rolli Roti meat, it was a very fine day. And I would have more chances for antojitos on this trip: here’s a link to our day in the Latin American food haven of Fruitvale

PS you may be wondering why I posted a photo of furniture. This is a gout stool we found in an antiques store on Valencia and don't think I didn't contemplate buying it for after this trip!

See also the following links for all our other food-centric ramblings this trip if you're interested:

Tadich Grill
Blue Bottle
Lime Tree
Canteen dinner
Farmers Markets
Bar Tartine
Canteen and Café de la presse breakfasts
Bodega Bistro
La Ciccia
BonBon Patisserie
Anchor Steam SFO

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