Photographer and recently-returned Mission native Daniel Mondragón, the contributor behind our new series Young Mission Talent, likes to explore the Mission at night. Over the course of a month, Mondrag ón went out with his camera to take photos of friends, neighborhood personalities, and night owls of all stripes. The following photo essay gives you a sense of who he met and what he saw.
It’s Saturday Night and it’s cold out. Almost too cold to be out, but not for these $2.00 tacos at Taqueria Puerto Vallarta. This is as close to Authentic Mexican food as you’re going to get in the U.S. and it’s absolutely delicious. Taste buds aren’t the only ones having fun tonight, The salsas and cilantro with onion toppings decorate the taqueria on wheels and the steamings gets the saliva glands pumping long before your first bite. Lines usually wrap around the Balmy Alley corner full of people from in and out of town after long nights on the weekends. Tonight I stopped by for two chicken tacos and two Al Pastor with a champurrado from the women who rents space in the shop to sell her goods. Photo by Daniel Mondragón
The Secret Garden on 23rd and Harrison has become increasingly popular for local community events. Tonight, live music, homemade food, and silence are the setting as a sign of solidarity for the 43 missing Mexican students. The violinist plays from the heart on this Dia de los Muertos. I just returned to the Mission, my home, after working in Los Angeles for almost two years. Although we are gathered for a tragic event, my heart feels warm with the sense of community so familiar to me here in the Mission that I hadn’t experienced at all in Los Angeles. My heavy heart becomes. light and I am relieved. Photo by Daniel Mondragón
Families gather in a laundromat on a fairly chill Sunday night at 20th and Mission. I’ve always found laundromats in the Mission aesthetically pleasing with beautiful dark skin tones washed out out by some of the worst fluorescent lighting in the world. My artistic instincts are drawn to such places for their geometric leading lines, random color palettes and interesting lighting and composition. Photo by Daniel Mondragón
I’m running after my friends who have decided to make a stop at Popeyes on Mission Street. I’ve never eaten there and I don’t plan on it tonight. Instead, I am attracted the warm and welcoming face of the woman in an apron making danger dogs on the street, the sounds of sizzling pork activate my salivary glands and the steam finds its way to my nostrils which get my appetite buzzing. I am so happy and proud to be from the Mission. Photo by Daniel Mondragón
My friend Francisco decides to go black and white with his new tattoo of the New Mission Theatre. The theatre is under construction and the famous icon has since been brought down. The artist pictured above works from his home but also spent time at Jerry’s Tattoo parlor on 24th and Potrero a few years ago. The symbolism of the Mission Theatre and its history in the neighborhood is worthy of a such an intimate tattoo which is being placed on the ribcage of a Mission Local, from a Mission Local. Photo by Daniel Mondragón
I was roaming around the Mission one weekday night and the streets felt unusually lively. There were groups of locals, as well as visitors, collecting at various dining locations, both inside and out. I noticed this young lady dribbling the soccer ball with an older gentleman above the BART station at 16th and Mission streets. I snapped a few flicks and then joined in on the fun. Shortly thereafter we had about a dozen people cheering us on to keep the ball in the air! I forgot where I was! New players of all ages began to have a go at it and just then I remembered how much I loved my home. There is never a dull moment in the Mission District and I love it! Photo by Daniel Mondragón.