San Francisco Mexican Restaurants You Need To Try
Our favorite spots around SF to grab delicious Mexican food.
by Brian N June 2, 2022, 4:26 pm 8.1k Views
Is there any better food than Mexican food? It’s flavorful, comforting, fresh, spicy, and delicious–or rather, deliciosa! I’m pretty sure tacos can fix any problem I have.
While Mexico has the most authentic Mexican food, San Francisco is a close second. With large immigrant populations, access to the best produce, and the bustling Mission District, you can find some of the best Mexican food you’ll ever have!
The one problem is that it can be hard to wade through the sea of Mexican restaurants in San Fran. That’s why I’ve created this list of the San Francisco Mexican restaurants you need to try!
With locations on 18th Street and Broderick and pick-up/delivery options, Nopalito has amazingly convenient Mexican food.
I’ll be honest though, I would travel hours for their torta de carnitas–think carnitas sandwich served in a special Mexican bread.
Head chef and owner Gonzola Guzman first learned to cook sitting with his mom in Catemco, Mexico, so they serve authentic, homemade Mexican food with a San Fran twist!
If you’re on the go, you have to check out their taco window at the Broderick location. Open in the afternoons Wednesday-Sunday, it’s an amazing spot to grab a few tacos and be on your way.
355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
It used to be that Mexican food was seen as a cheap weeknight meal, but Californios changed all of that with their “California Mexican” fine dining restaurant.
They have two Michelin stars, the “Best New Chef” award from Food & Wine Magazine, and four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, making it not only one of the best Mexican restaurants in San Francisco but one of the best restaurants in the world.
They offer a nightly tasting menu that showcases all of the creativity and skills Chef Val M. Cantu and his team have.
3440 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121
In the Outer Richmond area of San Francisco lies one of the best hole-in-the-wall Mexican spots you can find.
With quesabirria tacos–I’ll say that again, quesabirria tacos!–and a family feel, this is a comfy spot you’ll keep coming back to for years.
If you’re not feeling tacos, their tortas are amazing and bigger than your head. That’s a common theme with Cielito Lindo–they feed to fill.
All of their tacos, burritos, and tortas are filled to the brim with tender meat, tasty sauces, and crunchy veggies.
2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
“La taqueria” literally means a taco shop, so you know La Taqueria in between Dolores Heights and the Mission District is going to be good.
Their menu is simple but full of flavor. Choose between tacos, a burrito, or quesadillas with meat choices of carne asada, carnitas, beef head, beef tongue, chorizo, and chicken.
They’re the birthplace of the iconic Mission burrito–known for being gigantic and including rice. This plus the homey feel makes them a San Francisco institution.
974 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Located in the heart of the Mission District, Loló creates food that makes you reimagine what Mexican food is.
Focused on food authentic to the Jalisco area of Mexico but inspired by California, they offer a modern and fresh take on the traditional tacos and burritos affair.
While you can find menu items like chili lime crickets, their food is still very accessible to the average eater.
Plus, they specialize in natural wine and agave drink pairings. I love sipping on a mezcal cocktail while eating the tempura-fried fish tacos!
682 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Celebrated Chef Cobarruvias does it again–this time with his wife–with his Lower Haight restaurant, Otra.
It’s inspired by his childhood culinary delights focusing on fresh ingredients, traditional cooking techniques, and blending of what makes Mexico and San Francisco special together.
With extensive brunch and dinner offerings, there’s something for everyone at Otra. I’m partial to the chilaquiles de chorizo con huevos for a filling brunch!
For dinner, I love to sample their bites and dips like steamed mussels, pork meatballs, and kampachi washed down with an ice-cold cerveza!
3161 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
If you love tamales, you’re going to love Donaji, also known as Tamalitos, in the Mission District. Chef Isai Cuevas uses only the freshest ingredients from local small businesses to make food reminiscent of his childhood in Oaxaca.
Beyond tamales, they have an extensive menu of authentic Oaxaca food from enchiladas de mole to a crispy tlayuda.
I’m a big fan of their sopes, which are tostadas with braised beef and queso. Vegans can also enjoy their food as they offer vegan soyrizo!
136 Church St #1111, San Francisco, CA 94114
In the Castro, you can find El Castillito, a taqueria that’s been around since the ‘80’s. They’re known for their simple, delicious dishes made with only the highest quality ingredients.
I love their huevos a la Mexicana for a filling breakfast! Family-owned since the beginning, the owners of El Castillito take pride in feeding their neighborhood with hearty portions of authentic Mexican food.
That may be why they’ve consistently been recognized as one of the 50 best restaurants in San Francisco by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Taquería El Farolito
If you’re out late and craving Mexican food, Taquería El Farolito is exactly where you need to go. Right in the bustling Mission district, this small, hole-in-the-wall has been serving up some of the best Mexican food in San Francisco for years.
If you’re having trouble finding it, look for a line leading to amazing smells. Don’t be deterred by the line, it moves very quickly thanks to the fast workers and simple menu. You can’t go wrong with one of their gigantic burritos!
2030 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123
While some Mexican spots stick to cuisine from one region of Mexico, Flores has sourced family recipes from every region from the Pacific to the Atlantic!
This means you can try dishes you’ve never even heard of or stick to the classics. They even make tortillas from fresh corn throughout the day!
With brunch, dinner, lunch, and happy hour, there’s never a bad time to check out Flores. Take out-of-town guests to the Pacific Heights neighborhood for their tequila and mezcal flights to start. Then dip into their ceviche, masa dumplings, or queso fundido!
La Cocina Municipal Marketplace
101 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Right by the City Hall, La Cocina Municipal Marketplace isn’t just one of the top 25 restaurants in the Bay Area according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
It’s a community space that has created jobs for nearby Tenderloin residents, opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and a place to connect.
Instead of a single restaurant led by one chef, La Cocina features six different small food businesses owned primarily by women of color. You can try Dilsa Lugo’s tacos or Estrellla Gonzalez’s tostadas. Either way, it’ll be delicious!
La Palma Mexicatessen
2884 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
La Palma Mexicatessen in the Mission District offers up home-cooked Mexican food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
They’re best known for their made-from-scratch masa, salsa, guacamole, and chips, which many local restaurants and caterers use.
I love their enchiladas–they’re rich, flavorful, but not overpowering. Their tacos are also delicious. While you can grab any of these to eat, La Palma Mexicatessen is a very popular caterer for graduation, parties, and weddings. They offer a taco bar, appetizers tray, and their meats in huge quantities.
La Torta Gorda
2833 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Also located in the Mission District is La Torta Gorda, which translates to “fat sandwich.” It’s been serving up its huge sandwiches since 2022.
So, it’s a Mission District icon at this point. Food Network even said they serve the second-best sandwich in the entire country.
With indoor and outdoor dining, they offer authentic Mexican food inspired by chef Armando Macuil’s birthplace, the state of Puebla.
All of their food is tasty, but the Pierna Enchilada Tora with tender pork, adobo salsa, refried beans, and queso fresco is their claim to fame.
901 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Padrecito, in the center of the Cole Valley neighborhood, is all about sourcing the freshest, most in-season ingredients to make high-quality, delicious meals. Many of those ingredients come directly from their sister farm, Oak Hill Farm.
They have an extensive menu featuring ceviche, salads, desserts, and full plates, but customers especially love the tacos and enchiladas. I love the duck tacos! With your meal, you can enjoy a craft mezcal cocktail or imported Mexican beer.
1457 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Established in 2010 in Potrero Hill, Papito is like your neighborhood Mexican joint kicked up a few notches. Like a true California restaurant, their food is almost completely organic and locally sourced.
Plus, they have a full bar with one of the most extensive mezcals and tequila lists in the US. I love getting a mezcal margarita and then sharing some of their small plates like calamari fritto, elote asado, and queso fundido.
They also serve brunch with special drinks like a Maria sangrada with chipotle vodka, michelada, and watermelon margarita.
After a day at Fisherman’s Wharf or the Golden Gate Bridge, there’s no better way to start the night than with an ice-cold margarita and chips with guacamole.
If you’re looking for Mexican food in San Francisco, there’s no shortage of spots. But instead of eating at an okay-ish place, visit one of the above restaurants for delicious food, creative dishes, and authentic beverages.
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment and we’ll check it out!
Best Mexican Restaurants in San Francisco
- Cielito Lindo
- La Taqueria
- El Castillito
- Taquería El Farolito
- La Cocina Municipal Marketplace
- La Palma Mexicatessen
- La Torta Gorda
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