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Mission Food Scene: Ethnic Cuisine Beyond the Burrito

San Francisco Travel Insider Guides
by Valerie Ng Sep 16, 2010
San Francisco‘s Mission District may be famous for its burritos, but this neighborhood offers far more diverse dining options than the taquería.
Bombay Ice Creamery

While Bi-Rite is the undisputed Mission favorite for ice cream, Bombay Ice Creamery offers a far more exotic variety made with more cream and less sugar. While Indians prefer flavors like rose petal, saffron pistachio, and cardamom, you can still score scoops of cookies & cream, rocky road, or plain vanilla if the exotic flavors aren’t to your liking.

And while you can’t order a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top, you can instead indulge in a falooda, their version of an ice cream float, where the ice cream comes with milk, rose syrup, vermicelli, and flavored seeds called tukhmalanga. Or try a kulfi, their version of a sundae.

552 Valencia Street


I’d never tasted ceviche before celebrating my birthday at Limon a couple of years ago, and it was then I realized what I’d been missing.

Limon’s cevichería offers up a variety of choices, including a fish-less “veggie shooter” with diced vegetables and choclo, (an Andean corn). But if you’re not a raw fish fan, there are a selection of entrées that include lomo saltado and arroz con mariscos (beef sauteéd with onions and spices, and rice with seafood).

524 Valencia Street

Limon Rotisserie

Peruvians also do a mean rotisserie chicken at Limon’s sister restaurant, Limon Rotisserie. The pollo a la brasa can be ordered in a quarter, half, or full portions, and comes with a choice of sides like yuca frita and vegetales salteados. There’s also the option of going tapas-style with a variety of hot and cold small plates, such as halibut ceviche in lime juice, garlic, and rocot (hot pepper) and grilled hangar steak.

1001 S Van Ness Ave

La Oaxaqueña

I’m surprised there aren’t more restaurants in the city specializing in the cuisine of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Which makes me appreciate La Oaxaqueña even more with its giant tlayudas (crisp fried tortilla topped with refried beans fresh Oaxacan cheese, lettuce, avocado, and your meat of choice), delicious chicken mole tamales wrapped in banana leaves, and Oaxacan hot chocolate.

Even when sharing with a friend, you’re guaranteed to get stuffed, and the food is cheap. Adventurous eaters can try the grasshopper tacos (when they’re in season).

The restaurant also doubles as a bakery, which means there’s a selection of Mexican sweet breads (not to be confused with the American kind) as well as flan available.

2128 Mission St

Poc Chuc

Just off the Mission Street taquería drag, you won’t be able to order a burrito at this Mayan and Spanish fusion restaurant. More formal than most Mission establishments, Poc Chuc serves up a delicious assortment of dishes like grilled marinated citrus pork (the restaurant’s eponymous dish), pollo pibil , and panuchos (fried tortillas filled with a black bean puree topped with shredded turkey, cabbage marinated in lemon, pickled red onions and avocado).

A meal here could leave you dreaming of heading to the Yucatán.

2886 16th St

Food from Germany, India, Belgium and Senegal after the jump!

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