Wednesday, September 28, 2016

SF: the inner mission.

Ben just passed his year mark here in SF and I am just over six months in. It has been a hectic, crazy, non-stop past year and a lot of that has been exploring and trying out as much as we can in the Bay area to get our bearings and take advantage of all the good food, activities and year-round weather!

Illustration by Gabriel Leonoudakis

Like any city, SF is cut up into neighborhoods and mini-cultures. Sussing out the personality of each neighborhood is interesting and challenging - not to mention the micro-climates we have to contend with. l figured I would start a series exploring different areas and neighborhoods and it only makes sense to start with our home base - the Inner Mission. So, get ready, here we go...

I'll start with the fact that in a city of hills, the Mission is flat. Thank the lord. It also is one of the warmest and sunniest parts of the city. Inside "The Mission" - you will here people refer to the Inner Mission, the Outer Mission, and Mission Dolores. The Mission has been a heavily Chicano/Latino area and the immigrant influence from Central and South America is still going strong. Having said that, more recently gentrification is steadily moving through the Mission and pushing the long-time residents out of the neighborhood because of skyrocketing prices.

Ben and I absolutely love the neighborhood. We love the location - so close to Dolores, Potrero, SoMa, Bernal Hill, downtown and in the other direction for our commutes, to Silicon Valley. We love the restaurants and variety, the fact that the neighborhood is holding onto some of its grit and history. We love the mix of people and languages on the street. We also love the food....

The Mission is packed with good food, here are some of our favorites for visitors and locals alike...
  • Tartine Manufactory - it just opened last month and we could not be more thrilled. It has a beautiful and casual layout and to die for pastries. Expect a long (long!) line but tables turn fast. (Local Tip: You can also bypass the line and go straight in for a cup of coffee or grabbing a loaf of bread.)
  • Farmhouse Kitchen - two words for you - Fried Chicken. This is not hyperbole when I say their fried chicken dish is one of the best thai dishes I have had. We love this place. It is casual, easy and putting out great food. 
  • Flour + Water - we would tell you to go on a week night and sit at the bar. Not sure it deserves all the hype - but the pizzas are great, service is solid and they are certainly a staple in the city. 
  • Stable Cafe - I love this place, it is charming and has a relaxed outdoor, garden area and who doesn't love a bright yellow door? For lunch, a pitstop or a quick snack - it is lovely and worth consideration. 
  • DUM Indian Soul Food - this place is even newer than we are, and a welcomed addition to 24th street. I could eat indian all day, any day and this place hit the spot when we stopped in to try it out a couple weeks ago. 
  • Jelly Donut - holy shit. If there is one thing you can count on me for, it is judging a good donut. This hole in the wall corner store on 24th has donuts that I dream about. I call them church donuts because they remind me of the ones we had growing up on sundays at church - perfectly cakey + hard frosting. You won't regret it. 
**Because you should know the good and the...less recommended, we would tell you to take a pass on Salumeria - overpriced and not as good as they say. 
  • Sight Glass - this might be one of the best styled, curated coffee shops I know of. And if you are looking for a yuppie hook-up - this place is a gold mine. I recommend the Vanilla Cold Brew - you can't really go wrong. 
  • The Coffee Bar - I have a soft spot for this place. I like their coffee, I appreciate their wifi, the crowd is varied and laid back, and the food isn't bad. It is a great little spot and I whiled away a good deal of time here when I was looking for a job. 
There are too many cool bars to list, here are a couple of our current favorites....
  • Wildhawk - might just be our new favorite bar. The inside of it was designed by friends of ours and this is a classy, small, neighborhoody, upscale go to for a date night and a solid cocktail. We are big fans. 
  • Evil Eye - this bar flies under the radar on Mission street and I'm not sure why. (Local Tip: Put your name in for dinner at Al's Place and then head over here for a cool spot to hang out with a great cocktail while you wait.)
  • Trick Dog - almost too cool for school. It is loud in here and you probably will have to wait for a seat at the bar, but the menus and themes that they change on the regular are reason alone to check it out and the selection is great, bartenders know what they are doing and the drinks are on point. 
  • Asiento - your perfect dive bar with trivia night on Mondays. If you close your eyes, squint hard and block out the mustaches and converses, you could be at a bar in NYC but the one with no pretense, great pint glasses and good beer. 

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