The Mission Restaurants
561 Valencia St., Mission
Co-chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns have curated a menu that's essentially a culinary trip around the world via dishes influenced by Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Hungarian cuisines. In-house fermentation and DIY is a big part of what they do here, resulting in food that's literally made 100% from scratch. The tartines that originally put Chad Robinson's establishments on the map are particularly good at brunch time (get the smoked salmon). Be sure to snag some of the famous fresh-baked bread on your way out.
1199 Valencia St., Mission
The first thing you'll notice about Beretta is the elegant décor—industrial chandeliers dangle from the high ceilings and glass light fixtures dot the bar. One of the first spots that brought the Mission to culinary fame, they're best known for great Italian comfort food (don’t miss the thin crust pizzas and classic pastas) and an insanely good brunch (how can you not order the carbonara brunch pizza?). The upstairs event space is perfect for an event that feels sophisticated but with a little bit of cool factor.
3218 Mission St., Mission
Set up in an old converted home complete with a back yard, this is the kind of laid-back, blessedly well-priced spot locals feel good coming back to on the regular. The menu is packed with comfort food staples like meatloaf, fried chicken, and various pastas. It's pretty ideal for weeknight family dinners.
3000 20th St., Mission
The indoor-outdoor dining room is equal parts rustic (Edison bulbs, communal tables) and modern (exposed kitchen, cement floors) while the food is hearty Northern California fare through and through. Taking full advantage of the region's bounty, Chef Thomas McNaughton developed relationships with local farmers who provide just-plucked produce for dishes like squash maltagliati, figs with coppa di testa, and melon and burrata. If you're hosting an event, keep in mind that the attached Salumeria, which is a market by day, becomes a cozy dining room by night.
2224 Mission St., Mission
Set up in a stark and understated space that looks more like a garage than a restaurant, the décor begins and ends with a hanging disco ball found in the attic during renovation. The food is serious, particularly the innovative approach to seafood and veggies: sea urchin with horseradish tofu, fried anchovies, fresh shelling beans with chanterelles. Chef Jason Fox put together a pretty substantial six-course tasting menu ($75, $10 of which does to charity), which somehow feels healthy and light. The a la carte selection doesn't disappoint.
3621 18th St., Mission
Delfina is a lovely place with a fantastic Italian menu and delicious fresh pizzas. Because it's so damn good, it's usually crowded and hard to get into, which makes the smaller, more casual, but equally good pizzeria next door a great alternative, especially for a later lunch.
3560 18th St., Mission
The gentrification of the Mission hasn't included a ton of new architecture, so Farina's neon sign and sleek modern build makes it stick out a little on the street—all the better, because their famous Neopolitan pizzas (cooked in a specially made oven) are not to be missed. The best seat in the house is the back patio, which is super lush, and benefits from the Mission's warmer microclimate (it's usually about 10 degrees warmer here than in the rest of the city). The entire patio can be rented out for private events, and the restaurant provides heat lamps that make it a good option year-round.
Flour + Water
2401 Harrison St., Mission
Come nighttime, the dim lighting and loud music draw a younger crowd to this tightly-packed gem a few blocks off the main Mission drag. The lineup of house-made pastas is as unusual as they come. From maltagliati with braised rabbit and sunchokes to trenette with pork sugo and chili, the concepts are always inspired. The pizzas are just as interesting. It's not a light meal, so come with hungry friends as a lot of it is great to share. The dough room where they roll the pasta during is available as a private dining room in the evenings.
2534 Mission St., Mission
Come here to enjoy a dinner and a movie in one shot. The menu is surprisingly elevated, rife with perfectly executed American classics like oysters and fried chicken, and a pretty killer scallop situation. Films run the gamut from foreign to classic to indie (check out the screening schedule online). The poached egg with duck confit is particularly insane—it's only served at weekend brunch, which usually involves a wait, but luckily you can stroll around the Mission while your table is prepped.
680 Valencia St., Mission
The success of the original Oakland outpost inspired Chef James Syhabout—he's the guy behind Commis, also in Oakland—to bring his much-adored Laotian Thai restaurant (the 24-hour Pork Belly is something else) to S.F. Both spots are full of color and life, designed to encourage customers to stick around for drinks and laughs long after the food is cleared, but the weekend brunch and Happy Tiki Hour are exclusive to S.F., while lunch service is only available in Oakland.
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