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Luke Tsai

20 Amazing Mexican Restaurants in San Francisco

The city might be best known as the birthplace of the Mission burrito, but it’s also home to delicious pozole, mole, and handmade tortillas

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San Francisco is blessed with more than its fair share of stellar taquerias, where you can snag an amazing Mission-style burrito or paper plate overloaded with carnitas or carne asada tacos. That’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to San Francisco’s Mexican food scene, which is as varied as it is vast, spanning old-school Mexican-American combo plate joints and a dazzling array of regional specialists — restaurants, both high-end and low, where diners can feast on Tijuana-style birria, Yucatecan cochinita pibil, and the masa-based street snacks of Mexico City.

Even during the pandemic, the majority of the city’s most distinctive Mexican spots have remained open to feed their communities. Here are 20 of those essential Mexican restaurants, which, collectively, comprise some of SF’s most compelling takeout and delivery options.

As of publication time, some of these restaurants offer seated indoor and outdoor dining. However, their inclusion should not be taken as endorsement for sit-down dining, as there are still safety concerns. Studies indicate that COVID-19 infection rates are lower for outside activities than dining indoors, but the level of risk involved with even outdoor dining is contingent on restaurants and their patrons following strict social distancing, face covering, and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Taqueria Los Mayas

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331 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 548-2800
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Maybe the most reliable destination for Mexican food out in the Richmond District, this Yucatecan specialist is best known for its panuchos, or Yucatecan-style crispy tacos, topped with the region’s characteristic citrus-marinated meats.

2. Mi Morena - La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

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101 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 824-2729 ext. 322
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Chef Guadalupe Moreno has finally launched her business selling tacos guisado within the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Her signature dish is a taco on a corn tortilla (choose from blue or white) stuffed with delicious, saucy fillings like rajas con papas, juicy chicken tinga, or calabacitas a la Mexicana (squash stewed in tomatillo, serrano chili, and cilantro). Order dishes ready-to-eat, or take home larger portions to heat up later.

Lorena Masso

3. Los Cilantros - La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

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101 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 824-2729 ext. 322
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The Berkeley location of chef Dilsa Lugos restaurant, Los Cilantros, now has a San Francisco sibling in the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Excellent tostadas and chile rellenos are served here, alongside favorites like the ensalada de col, a simple salad of red and green cabbage seasoned with lime, cilantro, and olive oil that is a true sleeper hit.

Lorena Masso

4. Cielito Lindo

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3440 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 742-0959

This relative newcomer to Outer Richmond’s (previously not renowned) Mexican food scene, from the proprietors of Chino’s Taqueria down the street, brings a nice slice of regional variation to the outer avenues. The headliner, of course, is the quesabirria — probably the first version to hit this stretch of the city — but there are other notable menu items as well: a whole lineup of tortas and a very handsomely constructed pambazo, filled with the traditional combination of potatoes, chorizo, and queso fresco.

5. Nopalito

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306 Broderick St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 437-0303
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One of the city’s best-known destinations for a more upscale sit-down Mexican meal, Nopalito is a showcase for chef Gonzalo Guzman’s cooking, with its emphasis on local, sustainable ingredients and a wide range of regional dishes, including — but not limited to — seafood specialties from his native Veracruz. Mission District customers can check out Nopalito’s new 18th Street takeout window, which has a handful of dishes — like a pozole verde — that are exclusive to that location.

6. El Pipila

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879 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 529-2049
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El Pipila might be the city’s only restaurant specializing in the cuisine of chef Guadalupe Guerrero’s home region of Guanajuato, known for dishes like its red sauce-soaked enchiladas mineras (a traditional lunch for miners) and its rich, spicy stewed nopales. The pozole verde, served with thick handmade tortillas, is one of the best versions in the city, and, more recently, the restaurant has started selling burritos for the first time. It’s open for takeout, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

7. El Castillito

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136 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-3428
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Less famous than the Mission’s Taqueria El Castellito (whose burritos have gotten well-deserved kudos), the now-unrelated Church Street location boasts excellent carnitas and, even more notably, one of the best breakfast burritos in the city — a rice and potato-free version filled with a juicy, exceptionally flavorful egg-and-chorizo scramble.

8. Poc-Chuc Restaurant

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2886 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 558-1583
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The family-run Mission District mainstay, which specializes in Yucatecan and Mayan-inspired cuisine, is open for takeout from 12:30 to 9 p.m. daily. The restaurant continues to churn out its smoky, citrus-marinated pork, deeply flavorful turkey mole (served, in the Yucatecan style, as an ink-black soup), and wonderful handmade tortillas.

Caleb Pershan

9. Gallardo's

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3248 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 436-9387
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This longtime Mission District staple has a lengthy all-purpose menu that runs the gamut from tacos and burritos to egg-centric Mexican-American breakfast dishes and big combo plates loaded with rice and refried beans. But it’s the restaurant’s selection of homey, soul-restorative soups that are the specialty of the house — the rich, red-tinted pork pozole is the unquestioned standout, and the weekend-only menudo has soothed by countless Mission hangovers. Check the menu online before calling in your takeout order.

Caleb Pershan

10. SanJalisco Restaurant

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901 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-8383
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This Jalisco-inspired Mission restaurant is probably best known for its over-sized tacos (both soft and hard-shell) and its excellent chilaquiles. But true devotees of the restaurant know to come on Fridays and weekends, when it serves its most famous Jaliscan specialty: goat birria, available either as a stew or in the crisp-edged dry style, with rice, beans, and good handmade corn tortillas on the side.

11. Loló

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974 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 643-5656
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The colorful, Jalisco-inspired Cal-Mexican spot is one of the more eclectic Mexican restaurants in the Mission. Its current slate of to-go offerings is designed to be more portable than the restaurant’s usual sleek small plates — think burritos stuffed with birria or cochinita pibil. It’s also selling a whole lineup of canned margaritas and palomas.

tacos at Loló Loló

12. El Gallo Giro

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986-998 Treat Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110

El Gallo Giro has long been one of the best taco trucks in the biz, dishing out impeccably juicy Michoacan-style carnitas and deeply flavorful grille chicken for $2.50 a taco. Currently the truck is parked in its usual spot, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk up or call in orders to 415-240-1224; for a contactless transaction, customers can arrange to pay ahead via Venmo.

13. La Palma Mexicatessen

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2884 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 647-1500
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Open since 1953, the Mission’s fresh, handmade tortilla specialist is open for takeout for limited hours — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Tuesdays. Anything made with fresh masa, from tacos to tamales, is worth ordering. The burritos, rolled with freshly made flour tortillas, are a rare treat.

14. La Torta Gorda

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2833 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 642-9600
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Known for its gigantic, Puebla-style tortas and its sauce-dipped pambazos, La Torta Gorda is a Mission District icon for good reason: Every torta on chef-owner Armando Macuil’s menu is a master class in smart and generous sandwich construction. First-timers can’t go wrong with the shop’s famously sloppy #12, or “pierna enchilada”: roast pork, avocado, refried beans, pickled chiles, and a red adobo chile sauce — all crammed inside a bun that gets toasted, like all of the tortas here, on a panini press.

Caleb Pershan

15. Tortas Los Picudos

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2969 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-4199
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This tiny Mission District sandwich shop — now open for takeout only, naturally — has been cranking out some of the city’s tastiest, most skillfully assembled tortas for two decades. Of particular note are Los Picudos’ Michoacan-style carnitas, which are cooked on the stovetop in plenty of lard — and then showcased in sandwiches like the shop’s habit-forming torta ahogada, or drowned torta, which comes drenched in a pool of spicy chile de arbol salsa.

Luke Tsai

16. La Taqueria

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2889 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 285-7117
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La Taqueria is back at it with its meaty, famously rice-free burritos — griddled on the plancha until the outside is brown and crisp if you order it “dorado” — and its super-sized tacos, which, quite frankly, might be even better. The restaurant is now open for takeout, with a slightly streamlined menu. It’s even taking credit cards for the first time.

17. Tacos El Patron

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1500 S Van Ness Ave #100
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 829-7315

San Francisco’s most popular quesabirria spot is open again after a brief hiatus, still slinging its cheese-laden beef birria tacos and other offerings for takeout, and it’s even offering free in-house delivery to customers within a three-mile radius of its Mission location. Wash down each bite of quesabirria with a sip of the rich, flavorful consomé that comes on the side.

18. Los Yaquis

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3214 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 341-0110

This relative newcomer in Bernal Heights is probably best known for its extensive selection of well-executed Mexican egg dishes: huevos rancheros, divorciados, or scrambled with nopales, all served with good handmade tortillas. (If, on the other hand, you’re in the mood for the traditional Jaliscan-style snacks known as botanas — say, boiled quail eggs or pickled pork skin — try its sister location, the original Los Yaquis in the Mission.)

19. El Buen Comer

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3435 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 817-1542
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Mexico City native Isabel Caudillo’s restaurant is offering a limited takeout menu, with weekly offerings lean into Mexico City-style street foods: masa-based dishes like huaraches and gorditas, the sauce-smothered sandwiches known as pambazos, and a selection of tamales. There are usually also a couple of the guisados (slow-cooked stews) that the restaurant is known for, like the wonderful, velvety pork mole verde. El Buen Comer also has a stand at the Noe Valley farmers market on Saturdays.

20. Lucho’s

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2675 Ocean Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 347-7416
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This Lakeside Mexican-American favorite combines chef-owner Luciano Romero’s Yucatecan heritage with a classic American breakfast and brunch menu. Highlights include the cinnamon-and-sugar topped buñuelos and variations on eggs Benedict and omelettes that feature cochinita pibil, the traditional Yucatecan slow-cooked pork preparation.

1. Taqueria Los Mayas

331 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

Maybe the most reliable destination for Mexican food out in the Richmond District, this Yucatecan specialist is best known for its panuchos, or Yucatecan-style crispy tacos, topped with the region’s characteristic citrus-marinated meats.

331 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118

2. Mi Morena - La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

101 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Lorena Masso

Chef Guadalupe Moreno has finally launched her business selling tacos guisado within the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Her signature dish is a taco on a corn tortilla (choose from blue or white) stuffed with delicious, saucy fillings like rajas con papas, juicy chicken tinga, or calabacitas a la Mexicana (squash stewed in tomatillo, serrano chili, and cilantro). Order dishes ready-to-eat, or take home larger portions to heat up later.

101 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94102

3. Los Cilantros - La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

101 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Lorena Masso

The Berkeley location of chef Dilsa Lugos restaurant, Los Cilantros, now has a San Francisco sibling in the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. Excellent tostadas and chile rellenos are served here, alongside favorites like the ensalada de col, a simple salad of red and green cabbage seasoned with lime, cilantro, and olive oil that is a true sleeper hit.

101 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94102

4. Cielito Lindo

3440 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

This relative newcomer to Outer Richmond’s (previously not renowned) Mexican food scene, from the proprietors of Chino’s Taqueria down the street, brings a nice slice of regional variation to the outer avenues. The headliner, of course, is the quesabirria — probably the first version to hit this stretch of the city — but there are other notable menu items as well: a whole lineup of tortas and a very handsomely constructed pambazo, filled with the traditional combination of potatoes, chorizo, and queso fresco.

3440 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121

5. Nopalito

306 Broderick St, San Francisco, CA 94117

One of the city’s best-known destinations for a more upscale sit-down Mexican meal, Nopalito is a showcase for chef Gonzalo Guzman’s cooking, with its emphasis on local, sustainable ingredients and a wide range of regional dishes, including — but not limited to — seafood specialties from his native Veracruz. Mission District customers can check out Nopalito’s new 18th Street takeout window, which has a handful of dishes — like a pozole verde — that are exclusive to that location.

306 Broderick St
San Francisco, CA 94117

6. El Pipila

879 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94103

El Pipila might be the city’s only restaurant specializing in the cuisine of chef Guadalupe Guerrero’s home region of Guanajuato, known for dishes like its red sauce-soaked enchiladas mineras (a traditional lunch for miners) and its rich, spicy stewed nopales. The pozole verde, served with thick handmade tortillas, is one of the best versions in the city, and, more recently, the restaurant has started selling burritos for the first time. It’s open for takeout, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

879 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94103

7. El Castillito

136 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Less famous than the Mission’s Taqueria El Castellito (whose burritos have gotten well-deserved kudos), the now-unrelated Church Street location boasts excellent carnitas and, even more notably, one of the best breakfast burritos in the city — a rice and potato-free version filled with a juicy, exceptionally flavorful egg-and-chorizo scramble.

136 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114

8. Poc-Chuc Restaurant

2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Caleb Pershan

The family-run Mission District mainstay, which specializes in Yucatecan and Mayan-inspired cuisine, is open for takeout from 12:30 to 9 p.m. daily. The restaurant continues to churn out its smoky, citrus-marinated pork, deeply flavorful turkey mole (served, in the Yucatecan style, as an ink-black soup), and wonderful handmade tortillas.

2886 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

9. Gallardo's

3248 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Caleb Pershan

This longtime Mission District staple has a lengthy all-purpose menu that runs the gamut from tacos and burritos to egg-centric Mexican-American breakfast dishes and big combo plates loaded with rice and refried beans. But it’s the restaurant’s selection of homey, soul-restorative soups that are the specialty of the house — the rich, red-tinted pork pozole is the unquestioned standout, and the weekend-only menudo has soothed by countless Mission hangovers. Check the menu online before calling in your takeout order.

3248 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

10. SanJalisco Restaurant

901 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

This Jalisco-inspired Mission restaurant is probably best known for its over-sized tacos (both soft and hard-shell) and its excellent chilaquiles. But true devotees of the restaurant know to come on Fridays and weekends, when it serves its most famous Jaliscan specialty: goat birria, available either as a stew or in the crisp-edged dry style, with rice, beans, and good handmade corn tortillas on the side.

901 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110

11. Loló

974 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
tacos at Loló Loló

The colorful, Jalisco-inspired Cal-Mexican spot is one of the more eclectic Mexican restaurants in the Mission. Its current slate of to-go offerings is designed to be more portable than the restaurant’s usual sleek small plates — think burritos stuffed with birria or cochinita pibil. It’s also selling a whole lineup of canned margaritas and palomas.

974 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

12. El Gallo Giro

986-998 Treat Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

El Gallo Giro has long been one of the best taco trucks in the biz, dishing out impeccably juicy Michoacan-style carnitas and deeply flavorful grille chicken for $2.50 a taco. Currently the truck is parked in its usual spot, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk up or call in orders to 415-240-1224; for a contactless transaction, customers can arrange to pay ahead via Venmo.

986-998 Treat Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110

13. La Palma Mexicatessen

2884 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Open since 1953, the Mission’s fresh, handmade tortilla specialist is open for takeout for limited hours — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Tuesdays. Anything made with fresh masa, from tacos to tamales, is worth ordering. The burritos, rolled with freshly made flour tortillas, are a rare treat.

2884 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

14. La Torta Gorda

2833 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Caleb Pershan

Known for its gigantic, Puebla-style tortas and its sauce-dipped pambazos, La Torta Gorda is a Mission District icon for good reason: Every torta on chef-owner Armando Macuil’s menu is a master class in smart and generous sandwich construction. First-timers can’t go wrong with the shop’s famously sloppy #12, or “pierna enchilada”: roast pork, avocado, refried beans, pickled chiles, and a red adobo chile sauce — all crammed inside a bun that gets toasted, like all of the tortas here, on a panini press.

2833 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

15. Tortas Los Picudos

2969 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Luke Tsai

This tiny Mission District sandwich shop — now open for takeout only, naturally — has been cranking out some of the city’s tastiest, most skillfully assembled tortas for two decades. Of particular note are Los Picudos’ Michoacan-style carnitas, which are cooked on the stovetop in plenty of lard — and then showcased in sandwiches like the shop’s habit-forming torta ahogada, or drowned torta, which comes drenched in a pool of spicy chile de arbol salsa.

2969 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

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16. La Taqueria

2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

La Taqueria is back at it with its meaty, famously rice-free burritos — griddled on the plancha until the outside is brown and crisp if you order it “dorado” — and its super-sized tacos, which, quite frankly, might be even better. The restaurant is now open for takeout, with a slightly streamlined menu. It’s even taking credit cards for the first time.

2889 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

17. Tacos El Patron

1500 S Van Ness Ave #100, San Francisco, CA 94110

San Francisco’s most popular quesabirria spot is open again after a brief hiatus, still slinging its cheese-laden beef birria tacos and other offerings for takeout, and it’s even offering free in-house delivery to customers within a three-mile radius of its Mission location. Wash down each bite of quesabirria with a sip of the rich, flavorful consomé that comes on the side.

1500 S Van Ness Ave #100
San Francisco, CA 94110

18. Los Yaquis

3214 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110

This relative newcomer in Bernal Heights is probably best known for its extensive selection of well-executed Mexican egg dishes: huevos rancheros, divorciados, or scrambled with nopales, all served with good handmade tortillas. (If, on the other hand, you’re in the mood for the traditional Jaliscan-style snacks known as botanas — say, boiled quail eggs or pickled pork skin — try its sister location, the original Los Yaquis in the Mission.)

3214 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94110

19. El Buen Comer

3435 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Mexico City native Isabel Caudillo’s restaurant is offering a limited takeout menu, with weekly offerings lean into Mexico City-style street foods: masa-based dishes like huaraches and gorditas, the sauce-smothered sandwiches known as pambazos, and a selection of tamales. There are usually also a couple of the guisados (slow-cooked stews) that the restaurant is known for, like the wonderful, velvety pork mole verde. El Buen Comer also has a stand at the Noe Valley farmers market on Saturdays.

3435 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

20. Lucho’s

2675 Ocean Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

This Lakeside Mexican-American favorite combines chef-owner Luciano Romero’s Yucatecan heritage with a classic American breakfast and brunch menu. Highlights include the cinnamon-and-sugar topped buñuelos and variations on eggs Benedict and omelettes that feature cochinita pibil, the traditional Yucatecan slow-cooked pork preparation.

2675 Ocean Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132

Related Maps