Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

Cozy La Santaneca de la Mission proves worth the wait

Editor’s Note 9/25/17: La Santaneca is being honored by the Mayor’s Office for 2017 Latino Heritage Month as a Latino Heritage Business.  “La Santaneca de La Mission” essentially means “The Lady from Santa Ana of the Mission” — the Santa Ana in question is in El Salvador, and is the country’s second largest city. It’s like saying “a San Franciscan.”...

Review: Souvla — Opa!

Souvla opened its third San Francisco storefront in the Mission (the other two are in Hayes Valley and NoPa) just this year. It’s part of the newish wave of “fine-casual” restaurants opening throughout the city — also known as upscale fast food — with spare décor, clean lines, self-serve water, order at the counter, grab a number, then hope to...

Red Balloon — Comida Nica in the Mission

I started writing these reviews with the goal of bringing under-reported, mom-and-pop/hole-in-the-wall places to the attention of new Missionites, so that they could appreciate what the Mission was, what its roots are and what it still means to its long-time citizens. And, of course, I’ve reviewed very new, hip restaurants too, because we all live here and we all eat....

Tuba Restaurant & Grill – Turkish Flair in the Mission

Tuba opened in 2010, and it’s become a mainstay neighborhood favorite.  I tried it shortly after it opened with some out-of-town friends.  I really wasn’t all that wowed by it at the time.  I wanted to be, because there’s a dearth of Turkish food in the Mission, but some of the flavors were just muddled to me.  Enter the BF,...

Sunflower Vietnamese – an old friend rises again!

What, another Vietnamese resto review? But wait – it’s not just any Vietnamese place… it’s Sunflower! Risen again from its oh-too-long hibernation! We’ve been going to Sunflower off and on for about 12 years now. Originally opened in 1998, it is well-known for having one kitchen for two restaurants that straddle Valencia and 16th Streets. The one on 16th was...

Universal Café – Old Timer in the Mission

Universal may look like a new gentrifier, with its line of single-20-somethings, baby-carriage-pushing-30-something-brunch-goers, and its airy/chic/industrial/schoolhouse interior, but I’ll have you know that they’ve been in that space for 23 years – since 1994! Who am I kidding? You probably already knew – I’m a total latecomer on this one. I had no idea. They even have some rock star...

Mau Viet Kitchen – Modern Vietnamese

Mau’s website says it was conceived by a couple of families, one a San Francisco local with Vietnamese roots, and another who just wanted to open a restaurant with really good Vietnamese food in the Mission. It also defines “Mau” as slang for “to eat” – as in, “Let’s Mau Down!” (Not to be confused with vicious dictator Mao, who...

Review: Garçon – Petite Paris dans Le Mission

Get ready to gain some weight with me… I can’t help but overindulge when I go to Garçon. I’ve been coming here regularly for the past seven years, but it’s been on that corner for almost 11 now. I’d gone a few times before, but found it hit or miss until Chef Arthur Wall came along, in about 2010. Chef...

Mi Lindo Peru – old school Peruano!

People sometimes complain when I review new places, and I get it. The reason I started this gig was to highlight all the places in our neighborhood that don’t always attract attention the new places do, to make sure they don’t get lost in the Gentrification Shuffle. But for me, every restaurant in the Mission makes us who we are....

Bayou Creole Kitchen – casual New Orleans in the Mission

Bayou opened a little over two months ago, and I was drawn to it because I already knew Chef Arthur Wall’s food. Wall has been the executive chef at Garçon, the French bistro on Valencia and 22nd , for the last six years. When Wall started cooking at Garçon, I started going back to eat there, because the food just...

Evergreen Garden – Vietnamese old faithful

I’ve driven by Evergreen for many years and never stopped in. The outside almost looks like someone’s low-slung house, maybe a house that hasn’t been looked after all that well. The neighborhood has picked up a lot in recent years, with the addition of businesses like Mission Cliffs and Heath Ceramics, techy firms, as well as old theater crowds from...

San Jalisco – an oldie and a goodie!

San Jalisco started out as the New Central Café, in the 50s, located on 14th Street, one of two restaurants Anita and Vicente Padilla opened once they established themselves here from Mexico. Owned by the Padilla-Reyes family, they’ve been at their current location on South Van Ness since 1988, with current chef/owner Josie Padilla-Reyes having taken over cooking duties from...

Farmhouse Kitchen Thai – Thai classics and street food

Farmhouse Kitchen Thai is Chef Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang’s third restaurant, which he co-owns with his wife, and his first venture into the Mission. The family also co-owns Kitchen Story (Castro) and Blackwood (Marina), both of which include Asian influences in their dishes, but Farmhouse is their only fully Thai restaurant. It is touted as an authentic yet modern take on...

REVIEW: El Buen Comer – Instant Old School

El Buen Comer (“The Good Eating”) is a fairly new endeavor as a brick-and-mortar restaurant.  Isabel Caudillo, chef and owner, opened it only last July, after having cooked and sold her wares at the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market with the help of La Cocina, the Mission District food organization that helps establish low income women as food entrepreneurs.  Before that,...

REVIEW: Lolinda – Argentina in the Mission

I must confess, I’ve been to Lolinda quite possibly more times than I’ve been to any other restaurant in this City. It hasn’t been around for decades (they only opened in 2012), it isn’t old school, nor is it a mom-and-pop/family owned business. It is always packed, so it doesn’t need any more business. And it’s not cheap. (It’s not...