The Mission District is a busy and active area where residents and visitors, stroll along the Mission's wide avenues amongst the profusion of taquerias, pupuserias, produce markets, Salvadoran bakeries, salon de bellezas (beauty salons), auto-repair shops and check-cashing centers that post rates for wiring money to Guatemala and Nicaragua -- all evidence of the Central American and Mexican families that have been settling the Mission en masse since the 1950s.
Real Estate is a mixture of lofts, houses and condo's the average price being around 700k.
Visitors and newcomers notice plenty of cafés, thrift shops and used-book stores that cater to the college grads, artists, activists and other alterna-types that have historically been drawn to the Mission.
The Internet boom brought on heavy gentrification -- trendy restaurants and boutiques blazed in, rents shot up and many Latinos and artists were displaced by the influx of highly paid young professionals. Today, there's an interesting mix of places that survived the changes and new arrivals that are attempting to make the Mission home.
Whether you're looking to take in the newer, locally-owned stores and cafes or get a taste of the neighborhood's history and Latin culture, the area is crawling with things to see and do. While the flavor of the neighborhood changes subtly from block to block, the areas can easily be walked from one to the other. The 24th Street area is the culturally rich heart of the Mission, the stretch from Dolores Street through to Valencia Street is young and upscale, the area around 16th and Valencia streets hops with nightlife and the industrial area near Bryant Street has some hip, trendy restaurants.
Sights & Culture
Brava Theater Center: Brava! for Women in the Arts puts on stage productions in what is possibly the only female-owned theater in the country. This 300-seat, 13,000-sq. ft. renovated Deco space hosts plays largely written by women and minorities, as well as holding workshops for kids and adults in most aspects of theater production, from writing to directing to acting. 2781 24th St., between York and Hampshire. 647-2822 (box office). (Web site)
Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center: The center offers weekend tours of dozens of colorful murals in the neighborhood, explaining the political and social messages behind some of the artwork. Everyone's favorite place to view murals is Balmy Alley, which features more than 30 of them and feels like another country, with its profusion of bougainvillea spilling over garden fences. Balmy runs from 24th Street to 25th Street, between Treat and Harrison streets. Aspiring muralists can purchase art supplies from the Visitors Center or find out how to participate in mural-painting projects. 2981 24th St., at Harrison Street, (415) 285-2287. (Web site)
Galeria de La Raza: This established Latino art gallery, founded in 1970, features dynamic and sometimes controversial exhibits. 2857 24th St., near Bryant Street, (415) 826-8009. (Web site)
The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts: This center also has a gallery, and on many nights you can catch a play or a Latin American movie or take salsa lessons. 2868 Mission St., at 25th Street, (415) 821-1155. (Web site)
Carnavals/Parades: Three times a year, the Mission hosts Carnaval-style parades, which begin at 24th and Bryant streets and proceed along 24th Street and up Mission Street. The annual Dia de los Muertos procession, a candlelit nighttime event of otherworldly beauty is not to be missed.. For more information, call the Mission Economic Cultural Association at (415) 826-1401. (SF Carnaval Web site)
St. Peter's Catholic Church: This Roman Catholic church is a lesser-known San Francisco landmark, built out of redwood in 1886 for a parish then composed primarily of Irish immigrants. Though a 1997 fire (started by a votive candle) all but destroyed the building and its interior artwork, it has since been restored to pristine condition. Admire the Gothic trompe l'oeil painting inside, then walk around the corner to Florida Street to check out the murals on the adjoining church buildings. The church entrance is on Alabama Street, near 24th Street. (415) 282-1652. (Web site)
Casa Sanchez: This taqueria makes its own tortilla chips (it started out in 1924 as a tortilla factory) and serves good Mexican standards such as burritos and enchiladas, but it's known for its slow-roasted pork and homemade salsa. If you like the distinctive logo of the guy riding an ear of corn, order a temporary tattoo with your tamale. 2778 24th St., between Hampshire and York streets, (415) 282-2400.
Goood Frikin' Chicken: New spot offering grilled and rotisserie chicken with a Middle Eastern flair. Both are swathed in a delicious garlic and zatar (a spice mix with sesame seeds) marinade. The chicken meals -- served with crusty flat bread, garlic dip, fresh green salad and a choice of crispy potatoes, hummus and other side dishes -- are a steal at $11.95, which feeds at least three people. There also are great chicken shwarma wraps and other chicken specials. 10 29th St. (at Mission), (415) 970-2428.
Joe's Cable Car: The huge signs outside blaring "Joe grinds his own fresh chuck daily" for all to enjoy excellent burgers and a root-beer freeze (like a shake).4320 Mission St. (at Silver), (415) 334-6699.
La Copa Loca: Italian-born chef Mauro Pislor uses home recipes and imports all of his ingredients from Italy except for fresh fruit and purees. His signature sundaes combine fruit, purees and gelato to resemble whimsical animals, characters like Pinocchio and, in one case, "spaghetti pomodoro." Pislor makes 26 to 30 flavors a day that run the gamut from pistachio and mango to pear, green apple, and a few soy and sugar-free varieties for diabetics. They're sold in special fluted Italian plastic cups. 3150 22nd St., (415) 401-7424.
La Palma Mexicatessan: This Mexican food shop and taqueria distinguishes itself by grinding its own corn to make fresh masa for truly remarkable tortillas, which the La Palma staff shape and grill behind the counter. Take-out only. 2884 24th St., at Florida Street, (415) 647-1500.
La Santaneca De La Mission: Heaping platefuls of pupusas, corn masa pockets filled with combinations of cheese, beans or pork, and dishes of curtido (pickled cabbage) are the stars. At $1.65 per pupusa, you can afford to try a few and take a few home. Hearty beef soup (sopa de res) is guaranteed to lift your spirits. The plantains, refried beans and tortillas with crema are good comfort foods. Chase it all with a glass of horchata, a cool rice drink. 2815 Mission St. (at 24th Street), (415) 285-2131.
Casa Lucas Market: This is the best place to get yuccas, plantains and 20 limes for a dollar, among other typical Latino produce. 2934 24th St., near Alabama Street, (415) 826-4334.
Studio 24: Operated by Galeria de la Raza, this Mexican folk-art shop stocks an eclectic range of gifts and trinkets, including Day of the Dead paraphernalia, colorful jewelry, ornaments and artwork rendered out of tin, plus Mexican wrestling masks. 2857 24th St. at Bryant Street, (415) 826-8009. (Web site)
Virginia Howells: Clothing, bags with exquisite details. Every item has been chosen with care, even those not for sale, like the large black-and-white painting hanging across from the jewelry case and the fancy light fixtures in the dressing room. Owner Jennifer Welch plans to start selling music as well as other kinds of altered vintage goods. 2839 24th St., (415) 647-2082.
The Attic: Nestled next to a religious statuary and candle shop on 24th Street, a scant 20 paces up from Mission Street, lies the Attic. This bar draws people in with occasional live music and cool DJs. 3336 24th St., (415) 643-3376.
Pop's: Super-friendly and welcoming neighborhood bar. Many different types can be seen here: nearby residents, hipsters, dykes, geeks. In addition to a nice variety of draft beers and standard mixed drinks, details include a sit-down arcade game with Dig-Dug and Ms. Pac-Man, one of the more spacious pool tables in town, an old school analog photo booth, a wall-mounted juke box offering a kitschy variety of genres, and vintage kid bikes mounted on the wall. 2800 24th St. at York. 401-7677.
Treat Street: This motorcycle-friendly bar sits on what used to be 24th Street's scariest corner. The cheery owner, formerly a bartender at Shotwell 59, hosts a curbside barbecue most Sunday afternoons. 3050 24th St., at Treat Street, (415) 824-5954.
Velvet Cantina: Great wooden booths, a large bar area and beautiful amber mood lighting make this new bar a hot spot. That, and the delicious fruit-infused tequilas. Owner Matt Tognazzini has brought in chef Russell Morton, who worked at PlumpJack Cafe, to create a Mexican menu to go with the Mexican bordello theme. 3349 23rd St. (at Bartlett), (415) 648-4142.