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The tamale negro from Chicano Nuevo.
The tamale negro from Chicano Nuevo.
Chicano Nuevo

21 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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The tamale negro from Chicano Nuevo.
| Chicano Nuevo

San Francisco is home to altars to high-end Mexican cuisine, including Californios in SOMA and Luce, now under the direction of chef Rogelio Garcia, who just inked a deal for a book about modern Mexican cooking in Northern California. And the Mission District can never be given enough love; outside of white-tablecloth establishments, the neighborhood is always ready to whip up a much-adored Mission-style burrito and offers a plethora of places to get cheap and world-class cuisine. It all makes a lot of sense, given that this area used to belong to Mexico. These 21 restaurants showcase that, whether fine dining or casual comfort food, the gold of Mexican culture still runs through these hills.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Taqueria Los Mayas

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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.

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

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The La Cocina Municipal Marketplace has a few Mexican options worth checking out. Chef Guadalupe Moreno has her signature dish, 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) at Mi Morena. The Berkeley location of chef Dilsa Lugos restaurant Los Cilantros now has a sibling in the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, too.

Lorena Masso

Cielito Lindo

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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.

Nopalito

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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.

Been looking for a Mexican brunch that is a bit nearer than La Cheve? The homey vibe at Lower Haight’s Otra has you covered. Nick Cobarruvias and Anna Sager Cobarruvias, the same family team behind Son’s Addition, are at the helm as they dish up cheese and mushroom stuffed tortillas alongside a healthy list of mezcal and tequila. By night, look for a vegetable-heavy menu of tacos, tostadas, and more.

El Pipila

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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 red sauce-soaked enchiladas mineras (a traditional lunch for miners) and 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 started selling burritos for the first time. It’s open for takeout, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

El Castillito

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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.

Poc-Chuc Restaurant

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The family-run Mission District mainstay, which specializes in Yucatecan and Mayan-inspired cuisine, is open for takeout from 12:30-9 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

Puerto Alegre

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This Valencia Street business has been dealing out Saturday fajitas and pouring pitchers of margaritas for more than 50 years. In an increasingly restaurant-heavy neighborhood, Puerto Alegre represents the many businesses that stand the test of time, and withstand the rising costs, among the changes. Try the enchiladas.

Gallardo's

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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 — 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

SanJalisco Restaurant

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This Jalisco-inspired Mission restaurant is probably best known for its oversized tacos (both soft and hard-shell) and its excellent chilaquiles. But true devotees 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.

El Gallo Giro

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El Gallo Giro has long been one of the best taco trucks in the business, dishing out juicy Michoacan-style carnitas and deeply flavorful grilled 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.

La Palma Mexicatessen

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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.

La Torta Gorda

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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” featuring 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

Tortas Los Picudos

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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 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

La Taqueria

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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.

Tacos El Patron

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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.

Los Yaquis

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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.)

El Buen Comer

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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.

Lucho’s

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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.

Chicano Nuevo

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The Excelsior has good food coming out of its ears. Chicano Nuevo, operating out of dive bar Broken Record, is stocking modern Mexican food like Hennessy-infused flan in the shape of the Wu-Tang symbol and Ensenada-style beer-battered fish tacos. The restaurant is open seven days a week, meaning one can finally eat squid ink tamales any day.

Chicano Nuevo

Taqueria Los Mayas

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.

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

Lorena Masso

The La Cocina Municipal Marketplace has a few Mexican options worth checking out. Chef Guadalupe Moreno has her signature dish, 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) at Mi Morena. The Berkeley location of chef Dilsa Lugos restaurant Los Cilantros now has a sibling in the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, too.

Lorena Masso

Cielito Lindo

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.

Nopalito

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.

Otra

Been looking for a Mexican brunch that is a bit nearer than La Cheve? The homey vibe at Lower Haight’s Otra has you covered. Nick Cobarruvias and Anna Sager Cobarruvias, the same family team behind Son’s Addition, are at the helm as they dish up cheese and mushroom stuffed tortillas alongside a healthy list of mezcal and tequila. By night, look for a vegetable-heavy menu of tacos, tostadas, and more.

El Pipila

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 red sauce-soaked enchiladas mineras (a traditional lunch for miners) and 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 started selling burritos for the first time. It’s open for takeout, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

El Castillito

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.

Poc-Chuc Restaurant

Caleb Pershan

The family-run Mission District mainstay, which specializes in Yucatecan and Mayan-inspired cuisine, is open for takeout from 12:30-9 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

Puerto Alegre

This Valencia Street business has been dealing out Saturday fajitas and pouring pitchers of margaritas for more than 50 years. In an increasingly restaurant-heavy neighborhood, Puerto Alegre represents the many businesses that stand the test of time, and withstand the rising costs, among the changes. Try the enchiladas.

Gallardo's

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 — 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

SanJalisco Restaurant

This Jalisco-inspired Mission restaurant is probably best known for its oversized tacos (both soft and hard-shell) and its excellent chilaquiles. But true devotees 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.

El Gallo Giro

El Gallo Giro has long been one of the best taco trucks in the business, dishing out juicy Michoacan-style carnitas and deeply flavorful grilled 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.

La Palma Mexicatessen

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.

La Torta Gorda

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” featuring 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

Tortas Los Picudos

Luke Tsai

This tiny Mission District sandwich shop — now open for takeout only, naturally — has been cranking out some of the city’s 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

Related Maps

La Taqueria

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.

Tacos El Patron

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.

Los Yaquis

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.)

El Buen Comer

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.

Lucho’s

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.