To close up my coverage of San Francisco, I'd like to share a few spots around my favorite neighborhood: the Mission. While there seemed to be great restaurants, cafes, and shops all over the neighborhood, 24th Street in particular stood out as a great all-around destination.
What makes the Mission's 24th Street so exciting is its curious mix of inhabitants; a Thai-Chinese grocery might sit next to a taqueria, and across the street from a hipster coffee shop. This mix is unfortunately endangered, as rising rents are forcing out the traditionally latino community, but for now the vibe persists, in freshly painted murals (1) and corner groceries (2) specializing in latin american ingredients. Mexican restaurants (3) still outnumber the hispter joints. Right at the head of the street Taquerias el Farolito (2779 Mission, at the corner of 24th) offers raved about tacos filled with a diverse selection of meats (chorizo, lengua, beef brain...). Also worth keeping an eye out for at the intersection are the 'tamale ladies', who peddle their delicacies just up the steps from the Bart Station.
Further down the street, Local Mission Eatery (3111 24th) offers a changing menu based on what's being grown seasonally in the SF area. On our visit, I ate an unbelievable sandwich (4) of asparagus and poached eggs on freshly baked brioche. Yum. The relaxed, dimly lit interior offers a calm break from the pace of the street outside.
After lunch, you'll be spoiled for options for dessert. My pick is to head down the street to Dynamo Donuts (6) (2760 24th), for a donut in maple bacon or lemon thyme. Also worth the wait in line is the ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (just off 24th, on 2790 Harrison), where scoops comes in a staggeringly diverse selection of ever-rotating flavors, like Thai Chili Lime, Peanut Butter Curry, or Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee. Or, cross the street from Local and pop into La Reyna (5) (3114 24th) for a tasty Mexican sweet bread.
If you're like me, and think that something sugary is best followed by a cup of coffee, then follow the sounds of typing to Haus (7) (3086 24th), where you'll be welcomed into the starkly minimalist coffee shop by the glowing lights of a dozen hipsters all on Macbooks. The menu is small, but the coffees are beautifully made. If it's a nice day, you can even sit out back in their bare-bones patio.
Editor's note: Want to know one of the weirdest things about this neighborhood? It reminded me a lot of Los Angeles. I could almost have been in Silverlake or Echo Park, though admittedly there were a lot more people walking around here. Which makes me think that as great as San Francisco was, if this was my favorite SF neighborhood, then I might actually still just be an LA kind of guy...