There’s a little piece of Mexico in every city, where Mexican markets, festivals, art, and food mesh with local culture to create a unique niche. And since we are always inspired by Mexico and looking to spread the Mexico love, we’ve decided to put together short “guides” to local Mexican culture in different cities based on recommendations from friends, family, facebook friends, and blog followers.
Our first city has its very own hub of Mexican culture: the Mission district of San Francisco, where you’ll find awesome Mexican cuisine, fun festivals, and artwork. But the Mission isn’t the only place to find Mexican culture in San Francisco–there is influence all over the city. Here is a brief guide to local Mexican culture in San Francisco:
Day of the Dead Festival
The annual Day of the Dead Festival in San Francisco takes place in the Mission District, with a parade that wanders through the streets of the Mission, music, arts and crafts at the Mission Cultural Center, and hundreds of people out and about celebrating the lives of lost loved ones.
El Farolito was described to me as a “hole in the wall”, but amazing. It really doesn’t look like much from the outside if you look at photos…just another taco shop in a sea of “other” taco shops. But apparently, their food is delicious, filling, and very addicting. Looking at photos, you wouldn’t believe the size of the burritos!
El Farolito has several locations throughout SF including two on Mission St., one on 24th St., and one on Grand Ave. in South San Francisco. There are other locations scattered throughout the Bay Area too.
Home to the formidable “Mission Burrito”, La Cumbre has existed for years in San Francisco and is family owned. It offers guests the flexibility to choose their burrito’s ingredients, which apparently makes this type of Mexican cuisine unique to the Mission District. La Cumbre also offers a special falafel burrito, which sounds like the most interesting burrito I’ve ever heard of.
La Cumbre is located in the Mission, on Valencia St.
Whenever I roll into San Francisco after an 8 hour drive from San Diego, I drive straight to Papalote and order one of their delicious burritos. Papalote Mexican Grill was highly recommended to us, and happens to also be one of my favorite burrito joints.
In fact, the website boasts that USA today named it as one of the “top 10 great places to bite into a burrito”, and burritos are definitely what people come here to buy. Their roasted tomato salso is pretty well known too (you can buy it fresh in the store or online!), and they have other options like tacos, fajitas, and carne asada.
You can find Papalote on Masonic and Fulton St. or in the Mission (surprise surprise) on 24th St. and Valencia.
Also located in the Mission district, Casa Bonampak is a popular store that sells Mexican hand-crafted goods and decorations like papel picado, sugar skulls, and paper flowers. The store also holds craft workshops, such as their sugar skull workshop during Day of the Dead (sound familiar?). They’ve been around for a while and really try to keep Mexican artisan traditions alive.
Casa Bonampak is located on Valencia St. “between 22d and 2st St.”, so if you’re interested in Mexican folk arts and crafting in San Francisco, check this place out!
Disclaimer: Though we haven’t traveled to these cities and experienced their local Mexican food scene for ourselves, we trust the people we’ve reached out to who have, including our friends and family, facebook friends, and word of mouth.