Your Guide to SF Mexican Food: From Basic to Bougie

As a city with a great deal of Mexican (and before that Spanish) heritage, it should come as no surprise that San Francisco boasts some truly kickass Mexican food. What should also come as no surprise is the fact that over the years the Mexican food in SF has evolved and changed, incorporating elements of Californian cooking. What we’ve arrived at is a city with Mexican food options that fall essentially into three categories of deliciousness, each of which can cater to your stomach (and wallet) depending on what you’re craving.

The first category is your authentic, “been making it this way forever”, $6 for a huge meal- Mexican food. These places offer dry or “wet” burritos that will make it hard for you to leave California, and hard for you to justify spending money on groceries when you can be full for a week for five dollars. If this is what you’re looking for, head to La TaqueriaEl FarolitoTaqueria Los Coyotes, or Pancho Villa and you won’t be disappointed.

Carne Asada Burrito at El Farolito

The second category of Mexican food in SF is the more upscale (read: bougie), Americanized restaurant take on what was described in the first category. These are the spots to go on a Friday night with friends to enjoy prickly pear margaritas with your locally sourced carne asada tacos. If this is what you’re after head to PapitoTacoliciousTacobar, or Tacko. For a mindblowing plantain burrito, check out The Little Chihuahua.

Plantain Burrito at The Little Chihuahua

The third category could be referred to as “New Mexican Cuisine” or simply, “the Mexican restaurants with set tasting menus and four dollar signs on Yelp” (except for Mr.Pollo which is radically affordable at $20 / person for a set menu). These are the places to go when you are celebrating a special occasion, or trying to really impress a date. If that is the case head over to Nopalito, Don Pisto’s, or Californios.

Tamale at Nopalito

Now go forth, and enjoy 🙂


About the Author // Eliza Dropkin is the newest member of Vantigo. She enjoys live music, good food, and cruising around town in Jerry (the other newest member of Vantigo).

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