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El Gallo Giro Taco Truck

20 Mighty 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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Remember when San Francisco used to be Mexico? In 1821 the Republic of Mexico won its independence from Spain who called the area Alta California. Mexico renamed the end of the peninsula Yerba Buena in honor of all the wild mint that grew in great spurts. These days Mexican gold in San Francisco can be found in its prodigious and preeminent restaurant world, running through its burritos and strong taco game, lodes spread throughout the famous Mission District. Try these 21 Mexican restaurants for a taste of what centuries in the Bay has brought out of its cuisine.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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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. Drop by for a hang in the nonprofit’s new parklet.

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 an 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.

Looking for a Mexican brunch that is a bit nearer to San Francisco 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.

The interior of Otra with blue papel picado hanging over a long dining room with concrete floors. Lauren Saria/Eater SF

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 cuisine, is open for takeout from 12:30 p.m. 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

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 a neighborhood increasingly heavy with restaurants, Puerto Alegre represents the many businesses that stand the test of time and withstand the rising costs, among the changes. Try the enchiladas.

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 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 at 23rd and Treat Streets 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 sauce-dipped pambazos, La Torta Gorda is a Mission District icon for good reason: Every torta on chef and 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) 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 still slinging its cheese-laden beef birria tacos and other offerings, 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 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 leaning 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 and 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. But the restaurant won’t be at the bar for much longer; owner Abraham Nunez is opening his own place on Mission Street in 2023.

Chicano Nuevo

Cantina Los Mayas

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Only a few blocks from the first location, Taqueria Los Mayas, this purveyor of crab sopes, hardy tostones, and Mexican wine (a list of about 45 varieties) serves an upscale menu in comparison to the original. It’s the type of restaurant where it’s easy to rack up a steep bill as nothing on the menu is a miss — even the complimentary chips come out with three salsas to sample.

An empanada on a plate.
Once again, don’t play yourself: order the empanadas.
Paolo Bicchieri

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. Drop by for a hang in the nonprofit’s new parklet.

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 an 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

The interior of Otra with blue papel picado hanging over a long dining room with concrete floors. Lauren Saria/Eater SF

Looking for a Mexican brunch that is a bit nearer to San Francisco 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.

The interior of Otra with blue papel picado hanging over a long dining room with concrete floors. Lauren Saria/Eater SF

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 cuisine, is open for takeout from 12:30 p.m. 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

Puerto Alegre

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

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 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 at 23rd and Treat Streets 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 sauce-dipped pambazos, La Torta Gorda is a Mission District icon for good reason: Every torta on chef and 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) 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

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 still slinging its cheese-laden beef birria tacos and other offerings, 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.