While the recent onslaught of Ellis Act evictions diminishes the character of the City and destroys the ecosystem in favor of a more suburban beige experience, the south Mission neighborhood anchored by 24th street, el Corazón de la Missión, is the latest neighborhood under relentless attack. In solidarity, let’s take a look at the some of the traditional iconic eateries serving some of the best food in the Mission.
Although our food tour routes change each time, often Explore SF’s Mission-South Food Tour highlights the neighborhood’s Latino gems, beginning with Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. Under new ownership they successfully blend the traditional—the Famous Round Tamal—with contemporary such as their own Tamal Calabacitas Con Crema. Stuffed with savory squash and smothered in tomatillo sauce, this perfect vegetarian option didn’t leave me wanting for grandmother’s pork tamals! Next, La Palma Mexicatessan, a family owned institution famous for their fresh masa, fundamental to Latino Christmas gatherings. Try huaraches, similar to sopes, sandal-shaped and filled with chicken, bean, or cactus, they’re superb fried in a bit of olive oil and served with a glass of pinot. Don’t miss the chicharrón at La Espiga De Oro, made with a thick layer of pork under the skin. You’ll never accept snack “food” companies’ offerings again!
Next up, is pan dulce from La Victoria Panaderia, a 60 year old institution offering baking classes for kids. When I get Gay Married this June, I’ll have the Mexican Wedding Cookies and other pastries catered here! After sweets, we always take our tour groups shopping. While Casa Lucas is popular, I tend toward El Chico Produce, for no defensible reason. Both are well-stocked and locally owned, so I avoid sending dollars to Pleasanton, Monrovia or worse, Austin (Namaste). Both offer freshly made tortillas, an assortment of queso fresco, canned and packaged goods from North, Central and South America, as well as an array of dried chiles, a staple in my kitchen. Out front, keep an eye out for peddlers selling ēlōtl—roast cob corn slathered with mayo, queso fresco, and chile limon. Bellmar La Gallinita Meat Market is our next stop for “street tacos,” a must for any Mission food tour. Though begging for a fresh coat of paint, it’s the only place to get tacos sesos con limon—beef brain tacos with a slice of lime. Less adventurous eaters opt for the skirt steak or pork. From here enjoy Precita Eyes Artists cooperative and the Balmy Alley Murals.
Pulled Pork Chile Colorado, my favorite recipe, all ingredients sourced on 24th Street(Embarrassingly easy to make)
- 15 dried New Mexico or California chiles
- 5 dried anchos, arbols or japones (med to hot)
- 3-4 dried pasilla negros
- Handful of dried smoked chipotles or Liquid Smoke (Yes, I cheat!)
- 1-2 c stock
- 2 med onions, chopped
- 4 lbs pork butts, visible fat removed
Wash, stem, and seed chiles. Soak overnight or quick boil and steep for 30 min. Discard liquid (too bitter). Puree in a blender with onions and some of the stock. Press through a sieve to remove skins and seeds. Cut pork into fist-sized chunks. Arrange in slow cooker and cover with sauce. Cook for 6-8 hours. Shred the pork with a fork. Season to taste with liquid smoke, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.