The Mission Specialty
3692 18th St., Mission
A decade ago, two Bi-Rite market pastry chefs spied a vacant space across the street from the iconic market and moved in their small-batch baking and ice cream operation. Staying true to the Bi-Rite mission, only organic local ingredients are used, resulting in some of the hands down best scoops (balsamic strawberry, honey lavender, mixed-berry coconut in the summer; earl grey, orange cardamom, maple walnut in winter), buffalo-milk soft serve, frozen cakes, sundaes, and popsicles in the country. A second location recently opened in Alamo Square, though sadly, no soft serve there.
550 Divisadero St.
Bi-Rite Market somehow manages to carry everything you would need in one smallish grocery store—and it's all generally local, organic and sustainable, too. They cater and have a seasonal deli with a changing menu, plus plenty of samples. For a special treat, visit Bi-Rite’s creamery across the street serving local, organic ice cream. There's also a location on Divisadero Street.
Blue Bottle Coffee
2900 18th St., Mission
There are now ten locations strong in the bay area, with cafés in the Ferry Building, Hayes Valley, Heath Ceramics, Market Square, Mint Plaza, and on Sansome. There are two locations in Oakland, on Broadway and Webster St. Perhaps the most groundbreaking of their brews is the chicory-spiked New Orleans cold brew, which comes in a handy single-serving carton. They also make a pretty great granola in-house while the SFMOMA rooftop location is home to Chef Caitlin Freeman's modern art desserts. Think: a loaf cake made to look like a Mondrian painting and cookies inspired by Richard Serra’s sculptures.
Craftsman and Wolves
746 Valencia St., Mission
At its core, Craftsman and Wolves is a really inventive, beautifully appointed bakery on a particularly attractive stretch of Valencia Street. You can easily make a meal of Chef William Werner's pastries (strawberry-rhubarb muffins, peach-verbena twinkie, Japanese-style milk bread) though there’s lots of savory stuff, too, like egg frittatas and a hot dog garnished with beet chips.
740 Valencia St., Mission
The only thing more surprising than a fully functioning chocolate factory smack dab in the middle of San Francisco is the fact that it's one of the few in the world that actually makes chocolate from scratch. They're kind of chocolate purists in that they don't do fancy flavors but rather rely on really good bean varieties and just a smidge of sugar (every bar has 70% chocolate to 30% sugar). Buy all sorts of fresh-baked, chocolate-spiked pastries and sample all the house varieties at the on-site café. Call ahead to request a guided tour of the factory.
Four Barrel Coffee
375 Valencia St., Mission
We love Four Barrel not just for excellent espressos, almond milk lattes, and Americanos, but for their very genuine commitment to community, both local and global. Putting their massive warehouse space to good use, they host regular workshops (pickling classes with Bar Tartine's Cortney Burns sounds especially fun) and make it a point to only source beans from small family farmers all over the world. In a pretty brilliant move, the café doesn't have wifi, so people are forced to converse face-to-face rather than hide behind laptops. There's also a location in Alamo Square and Portola.
3086 24th St., Mission
Haus is the minimalist studier's paradise—it's light-filled and simply decorated with a pine wood bar and beams, white walls, and concrete floors. Plus, they have a lovely patio if it's warm enough to sit outside. There's plenty of seating, which means you can camp out for the afternoon without feeling guilty about taking up so much space.
2790A Harrison St., Mission
Humphry Slocombe vs. Bi-Rite Creamery is an ongoing debate between locals. Jake Godby and Sean Vahey—the two dudes behind team Humphry—pride themselves on the time and effort they put into concocting flavors, which run the gamut from Elvis (the fat years) to potato chip to salt & pepper. They’re also bringing back the ice cream cake in a big way. There's also a location in The Embarcadero.
688 San Jose Ave., Mission
There's nothing glitzy or particularly fancy about this classic scoop shop, but as evidenced by the out-the-door line (don't worry, it always moves fast) the small-batch ice cream is second to none. We like that they keep it fairly simple with flavors, the most inventive of which—and arguably the tastiest—is the Black Walnut, though Avocado and Grasshopper Pie are close seconds. You can also custom order a traditional ice-cream cake.
Ritual Coffee Roasters
1026 Valencia St., Mission
Many credit Ritual with being the first truly gourmet coffee shop in the city. Now, 11 years and five bustling S.F. locations later, they still brew arguably the best cup in town. Because people have been known to get hooked on their meticulously sourced blends, a coffee club was launched to make sure out-of-towners can get their hands on the good stuff. There's no WiFi here, but plenty of space.
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