Carnival Events Annual Events San Francisco, Caribbean Events San Francisco Brazil Events San Francisco Latin Events
Introduction || How to get there || Latin Food & Drink || Where to eat || Top Eateries || Music & Nightlife || Shopping || History || Areas of the Mission || Present & Future || Kids & Families || Tours || Valencia St. || 24th Street || Latin Arts || Mission South of -Cesar Chavez || Arts & Theatre || Film & Video || Murals || Festivals || Non-Profit || Nearby Neighborhoods

The birthplace of the Bay area was at a now vanished lagoon named after the Lady of Sorrows, Dolores, in 1776. You can find one of California's newest historical plaques marking this spot less than half a block from the intersection of 16th & Valencia. Today, magazines across the country talk about this locale as  the West Coast's "most happening." You will find all manner of bars, cafes, Click to View restaurants and shops catering to one of the most diverse and eclectic communities anywhere. (As well as Jesus being rediscovered by Generation X at the Cornerstone)
Till recently, most visitors began and ended their visit at nearby Mission Dolores, which was built in 1787 at the base of the extraordinary neighborhood known officially as the Liberty Hill Historic District and more commonly as "the hill above Dolores Park." If San Francisco is the Spiritual Center of the Earth, or the place where new ideas meet the least amount of resistance, this is likely the center of the center. 
Yesterday and today, the Mission has been a crossroads for many immigrants making it the center of San Francisco's most vibrant street life. Not just for the 60,000 living within its borders, but also as the home of the Mission Miracle Mile, which by day is the main working class shopping street for the Peninsula and by night the coolest twenty-something pub cruising zone.  A ironic contrast worthy of a modern art museum.
Since the 1950s, the Mission's dominant culture has been syncretic Latin. While Mexican food is popular, the specialties of Central America and the Andes are featured prominently. Yet these immigrants are much like those who came before, dreaming the golden dream of a big house in a safe neighborhood and a better life for their children. There is a big city edge to the Mission and lots of problems and problem solvers. Not every visitor will want to come here.
sfmission.comDuring the dot-com boom there was a growing issue with the Latin and bohemian problems being displaced in favor of gentrification. That trend seems to have reversed itself to some extent with the dot-bomb collapse. You can follow this story in the New Mission News, the paper of record located at our sister site, www.sfmission.com.

Introduction to the Mission District by SFCVisitor'sBuerau

The Mission by SFgate.com

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does a great job on nearly all the neighborhoods in the City. Microsoft's Sidewalk, with its superior and comprehensive editorial coverage, left the field in '99, selling out to its more yellow page-like main competitor CitySearch.

Wikipedia's guide to the Mission District includes Geography, Climate, History, Culture, Transportation, Highlights of the Mission & External Links.

Photo Guide to the Mission: West of Mission Street || East of Mission Street || Mission Street



How to get there

SFMission.com Transit Guide
If you take BART to the Mission, remember the last train runs at around midnight. The busiest line in the West, the Mission 14, does run all night if you need to connect with the East Bay's AC Transit at the Transbay terminal or the Ferry building. This is also a good way to hop down to the Mission Y, just South of Chavez where Valencia meets Mission. There is an expansion project for a 30th Street BART station that is in development at this time.


Latin Food & Drink
Latin food is found everywhere in the Bay Area, but is most plentiful here in the Mission district. The key ingredient is Salsa, a spicy mix of tomato, onion, chili sauce and sometimes very hot chilies. Most meals begin with chips and salsa and will be served with rice and beans. The beans are usually served refried, but black whole beans are popular too. You'll also be given a choice between corn or flour tortillas. . . 
El Salvadorian and Peruvian food is widely available in the Mission at many Latin restaurants and feature an emphasis on seafood.
Two favorites not to miss:
Loma Saltado: strips of beef sautéed with onion, green pepper and French fries in a delicious sauce. Pupusa: Fresh Tortilla filled with meat and/or cheese, and garnished with a tangy shredded cabbage sauce - generally at a bargain price.
SFMission.com Restaurant Guide

Cinco de Mayo FOOD Links 
May is the Mission's festival month. May Day and Cinco de Mayo kick things off. Mother's Day and Spring's most glorious month fill in the middle, and Carnaval on the Sunday before Memorial Day (4th Monday) finish things off with a bang. 

``Vale la pena,'' a salsa recipe || Leftover tortillas
by Jacqueline Higuera McMahan, author of ``Healthy Mexican Cooking
Tortillas Hand Made reviving a Mexican tradition 
Restaurants with Cuban Food by sfbg.com
4 in the Mission and 4 by sfbg.com. 11 listed on Citysearch as of June 2005

Mexican Panaderia Recipes by sfgate.com
Panderias or Mexican Bakeries with their tantalizing variety of selection are plentiful on 24th Street. Its OK to grab too many on your tray with the tongs; you'll be amazed at the low prices. Don't resist all   healthy fruits & veggies blazing colorfully from the sidewalk.

The many burrito parlors generally give you a large range of fresh ingredients and a choice of hot or mild salsa. The Mission is proud to have few chains and especially no "wrap" parlors with their more exotic fills. You can find one of the world's oldest burrito parlors (now called Taquerias) with lots of historic memorabilia on the walls at  El Faro (2399 Folsom @20th, founded in 1961).

Best 5 burritos in  the Mission on sfgate.com Picked by local teens.
5 to try by Citysearch\

Burritos by snapcity.com
A pictorial

The two taquerias that receive most honors are La Taqueria, located at 2889 Mission St. near 25th Street, and Pancho Villa, located at 3071 16th Street, between Valencia and Mission.  


published Jan 2000




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Where to Eat

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SFgate.com's Bay Area's Best 100 Restaurants
The Mission continues to hold strong, with 6 restaurants listed in the top 100, and many others in the near vicinity



Top Restaurants of the Inner Mission
Power cruise the top  Places to Eat in the Mission using our handy jumptos with nearby parking/transit tips. Ctrl + D will bookmark this page of over 100 critically acclaimed places to eat.

Learn more about Mission restaurants in our Imagefolio.


Picks in Nearby Neighborhoods

Bargain Restaurants in the Greater Mission Neighborhoods 
SFgate's Picks for SF Bargain Restaurants


"The Valencia corridor is to dining what off-Broadway is to New York theater. Along this six-block strip are some of the most personal and moderately priced restaurants in the city" Michael Bauer, Chronicle Food Editor

Music & Nightlife

Reggae/Dance Hall/Dub
Music Events by SFStation.com
SFGate.com Live Music Bar Guide

Salsa and other Live Music Venues
Near the Y where Mission & Valencia meet
3140 Mission St , San Francisco (between Cesar Chavez and Precita). 415-648-6611

El Rio
 3158 Mission@Cesar Chavez Ave./Army) || Club El Tenampa || Club Malibu mostly espanol spoken.

21st & Mission  

ForeignCinema.com has lived up to its considerable hype and there's lots more to come from its ambitious team. 
El Valenciano
Make-Out Room ||
Make Out Room by sfstation live for  weekly music updates. 3225 22nd St.
Cha Cha Cha at Original McCarthy's  

radioValencia.com  1199 Valencia St. @ 23rd 
Notable Nearby Bars:
  Beauty Bar by snapcity.com.

16th & Valencia 
Elbo Room 
||  Events at sfstation 
Long-standing carnaval favorites are the samba fusion. 
Dalva  citysearch  || Events at sfstation 3121 16th St. @Albion
Esta Noche || Esta Noche is San Francisco's first gay Latin nightclub and famous for its female impersonators. 

Skylark || Events

Notable Nearby Bars: 
500 club by snapcity.com || puerto alegre by snapcity.com || zeitgeist by snapcity || Cafe Cocomo 650 Indiana St

Scattered Powers
Il Pirata Events at sfstation  
the rite spot by snapcity.com
Casanova -  Club Tueffel || Sadie's Flying Elephant -Treat Street Cocktails





You like to Salsa, Mambo, Merengue, Reggae.... Pues, move your bote, get out of the house and get on The Mexican Bus, Fridays and Saturdays.


Shopping & Other Mission Business

The Mission District, and particularly Valencia street, teems with vintage furniture shops, thrift stores, and Mexican folk art shops.
thrift town by snapcity.com
SFGate.com Valencia Street Shopping Guide
Shopping in the Mission District on Yahoo! Travel

Learn more about Mission businesses here or at Missionmerchants.com. List of Mission Bookstores available in our Imagefolio.


Parks & Recreation

Dolores park was established in 1905 and is located at Church/Dolores & 18th/20th Streets. It can be reached by Muni Line 33 or J Muni Metro. Problems aside, Dolores Park has been the neighborhood mecca of cultural, political and sports activities since the 1960s. It has hosted political rallies, festivals, Aztec ceremonial dances, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, and San Francisco Mime Troupe performances. More at sfneighborhoodparks.org


History of the Mission District
Mission History in our Imagefolio

History of the Muwkema Ohlone by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Council
For ten thousand years or more the ancestors of the Muwekma Ohlone Indians lived, gave birth, hunted and fished. They harvested a great diversity of fruits and vegetables. They managed large tracts of land through selected burning. They married, grew old and died here by San Francisco Bay...

San Francisco de Asis, Mission Dolores (the sixth of 21 built on the Mission Trail) features a museum, graveyard, gift shop and a beautiful Basilica with the customary alcove dedicated to Latin America's great patron saint, the Lady of Guadeloupe. It is the oldest building in San Francisco. You'll also find over a dozen nearby churches whose founders likely sensed the special energy in this area. The Gay Jewish synagogue opened across the street in 1998.
More about the California Mission Trail on the California State Parks Site

Old Mission District History includes drawings and photographs from the 19th century.

In search of Adolph Sutro by Annalee Newitz at sfbg.com
Before there was the Sutro Tower, there was the Triumph of Light. This Mayor went the Carnaval distance to build cheap transportation and entertainment for the people.

Roaring Twenties (Part 2 of 7 of the Chronicle's California Century)
Central figure was Sunny Jim Rolph, San Francisco's greatest Mayor from 1911 to 1930, and a proud Mission home boy.
"There are Smiles That Make You Happy" was his  Carnaval theme song. We endorse the view that his home at 21st & Sanchez should be land-marked.

Life long resident Leo Sapienza remembers


Present & Future of the Mission

"The Mission is still changing. Now," says Kate Connell, the Mission librarian, the new immigrants are "recent college graduates."

Inside the Mission District by National Geographic
Brightly colored murals engulf the sides of business buildings, apartments, churches, school playgrounds, billboards, and even McDonalds. Almost every inch of the fast food giant's exterior is blanketed in paint, most notably by a naked woman with breasts of fire.

I Love speaking Spanish in the Mission by sfgate's Fernando Quintero
"I like reading the newspapers in the Mission. They print stories in both English and Spanish." 

Hispanic Life Meets The Artistes..bysftravel.com

Google News Updates for "Mission District"


Kids & Families:

Former Mission  District resident Whoopie Goldberg scored her biggest screen success based on a story set in the Mission District. Sister Act was filmed in the neighborhood surrounding St. Paul's Parish at Church & 28th. Sister Act II repeated the always refreshing story of redemption through the arts of song, dance and story.

As California schools continue to languish at the bottom of the nation for school arts funding, successful Mission programs continue to show that great things are possible by feeding the right side of the brain. The Mission's Carnaval Group Loco Bloco is the best example we have of Youth Arts Education .

The public presentation of youth arts gives programs accountability and credibility. Parades must be recognized and supported as more than party themes. Carnaval San Francisco, despite desire and demonstrated success, has no children & youth program which doesn't consider dropping out each year for lack of resources.



Mexican Bus Mural Tours: Hop on "El Volado," the Mexican Bus, for a fun 3-hour tour of  murals. Since 1992.

Precita Eyes mural walks are always guided. Conveniently meets near the 24th Street BART station. Group bike tour are available by appointment.

16th and Valencia Hub by SFGate
"Forget gentrification; the inner Mission District has undergone far more hipsterfication -- the inevitable result of a surfeit of moderate rents, thrift stores, dive bars, coffeehouses, bookstores, art galleries and avant-garde theater."
J Walks offers tours of the "hippest neighborhood in America."


Valencia Street

Valencia Street is the street that is most reinventing itself in the fine tradition of the San Francisco counter culture.  

Bohemian America author interview by Jane G
Former SFWeekly pop-culture columnist Ann Powers and now New York times rock-critic considers San Francisco the lifestyle capital of America even with dot-com influx. 

Dolores and Valencia Corridor by sfgate
With some words about Dolores Park and a list of worthy spots. Includes New College, a thriving alternative education institution.


24th Street
Shopping for ingredients on 24th St. by sfgate

Scouring 3 ethnic markets for traditional ingredients
24th Street Guide to the Mission by sfgate.com.
"Many consider 24th Street to be the true heart of the Mission. "

St. Francis Fountain
2801 24th Street
Family run shop established in 1918, and last remodeled in 1949. Candy and ice cream is made on site.

burrito1_t.gif (2990 bytes)Casa Sanchez  on 24th traded burritos for tattoos
Original burrito parlor of famous chips & salsa purveyor knows how to make a few too many lifetime customers. 

If needed, park at at the 24th & San Bruno Parking Garage near SF General Hospital. 


Latin Arts

At one time the big three for Latin Arts in the Mission also included the Mexican Museum, now located at a magnificent structure at Yerba Buena Gardens. They all share long histories of fostering creative talent and asking important questions. 
Galleria de la Raza
2857 24th Street, 415-826-8009
Also has a gift store in the annex
(irregular hours)
An Interdisicplinary Chicano/Latino Space For Art, Thought & Activism.

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

2868 Mission Street near 24th
Administration: (415) 821-1155 || Box Office: (415) 643-2785 || Space Rentals: (415) 643-2776 || Events Info: (415) 643-5001
Theatre, Gallery, Dance & Music classes keep things lively

The Brava Theater Center
2781 24th St.
415-641-7657 || Box Office: 415-647-2822
The City helped BRAVA Women for the Arts take over the decaying gem as a cornerstone of the 24th Street Revitalization Project, a task force initiated by long departed Supervisor Jim Gonzalez to try to create at Latin tourist Mecca. In 1995  Treasurer Susan Leal invested the limited SFRA funds in this building. 

Precita Eyes
Visitors Center at 2981 24th Street 
415-285-2287 (also 348 Precita 285-2311)
Two of America's most important mural environments are located on 24th Street: Balmy Alley (near Harrison) and the Mini Park (irregular hours).

Dance Mission || Events
3316 24th Street (corner of Mission)
phone: 415-826-4441
More than 50 classes weekly for all ages in Hip Hop • Breakdancing • Salsa • Modern Samba • AfroCuban Modern & Folkloric • Tap Ballet • Latin Cabaret • Afro Haitian Feldenkrais • AfroBrazilian • Nia Technique



Mission South of Cesar Chavez
Bow to the FOUR DIRECTIONS atop Bernal Hill  
Before leaving the summit, envision yourself atop a pre-Colombian pyramid and pay homage to the four directions. With some advance planning you can you can pick a direction to travel in and be assured of a nice respite at the base. You'll find spectacular view as you circle around the mysterious tower at the crest. One Sunday a month
soap box art cars  race down this hill. 
A little advance planning can give you a downhill hike through some of Bernal's many hidden stairways and mini-parks. If you walk
West to  Mission Street, consider one of the Mission's most charming coffeehouses: Cafe Commons at 3161 Mission Street (near Precita). Bernal's commercial center is South on Cortland Street, where the Progressive Grounds Coffee House at the corner of  Bennington is the most prominent of your five cafe options (Deli Pub, Liberty Wine Bar, Moon Cafe & Martha's). If you go all the way to the bottom on a Saturday, you'll arrive at the
farmer's market, located at 100 Alemany (off Bayshore). The Eastern route will take you over the 101 freeway to Bayshore Blvd. Going North, you should consider Park Bench Cafe, which overlooks pretty Precita Park. The park features an excellent kid's play area and a Rec Center run by Mission Neighborhood Centers.  The first San Francisco Carnaval was held here in 1979.


Arts & Theatre District
View pictures of theaters in our Imagefolio.
Artists have been gravitating to the Mission for many decades. North Beach may have had the reputation, but the Mission had the cheap rents, food, and ambiance of an arts district since the 1960s.
Art Galleries in Our Imagefolio

Mission Arts DATABASE by sfmission.com
Here's our sister's attempt to be comprehensive and provide you with a database to sort by discipline and zip cde.

phone: 415-626-6745
Known nationally for its entrepreneurial savvy as well as artistic innovation, ODC was the first to build its own resident facility, with the ODC School, ODC Theater, and ODC Gallery.

a.o.v. || reviews
3328 22nd Street (between Valencia & Guerrero)
Gallery for contemporary art dedicated to exposing the work of emerging visual artists.

Artists' Television Access || OtherCinema.com 
Since the early '80s, Artists' Television Access has provided equipment, education, and a screening venue for independent film and video to artists and the community in San Francisco's Mission District.

Intersection for the Arts
446 Valencia Street
Main Office: (415) 626-3311 Box Office: (415) 626-2787
San Francisco's oldest alternative arts space. 40 years and going strong.

Creativity Explored of San Francisco

3245 16th Street
Full-time visual arts center for disabled adults and great gift store.

SF Mime Troupe
855 Treat Ave.
Now running for over 40 years, the internationally renowned group of theatrical satirists make audiences laugh at the absurdities of life.

1062 Valencia Street (near 22nd)
Info: 415-826-5750 Tickets: 800-838-3006
A breeding ground for new performance. Connecting art, culture, and community through artist and audiences.

Theatre Rhinoceros
2926 16th Street
Theatrical work by gay and lesbian artists addressing gay issues.


Film & Video

Roxie Cinema || Schedule ||
the roxie by snapcity.com
3117 16th Street (at Valencia)
San Francisco's Premier Independent Cinema

theCastro.com Theater || The Castro Calendar
429 Castro Street (at 16th and Market)
A Cathedral of Cinema and SF's favorite theatre. The house organ still plays, and the grand venue often sells out.

Red Vic Movie House || The Red Vic Calendar 
1727 Haight Street
Rep, cult and premiere independent films. Makes you feel like this is the City that knows how again.


"no part of the city nurtures its artists more than the Mission District. In fact, the entire neighborhood is like one big outdoor museum that's open all the time."
Mission's Oldest Murals by sfbg.com

SomArts SMRC Mural Resource Center
934 Brannan St. S F,  94103
phone 415.552.2131 fax 415.522.0136

PrecitaEyes.org || murals 1 || murals 2 || murals 3
"photographs taken of copyrighted murals for the purpose of reproduction can only be used with written permission from the muralists"

Dedicated to enhancing the neighborhood with murals, as well as educating and involving others elsewhere in community arts projects. Susan Cervantes is the founder and director of Precita Eyes Murals.



May is  Masturbation Month by the Mission's goodvibes.com 
Because "the merry, merry month of May" has long been seen as symbolic of sexual awakening. 

Maypole in Dolores Park by Reclaiming. High priestess & author StarHawk is a long-time Mission resident

Parade on 24th & Mission Streets is on the first Sunday in May
May. On the 2nd Sunday is Mother's Day 

Catch the spirit. It's what this site runs on. 

Animal Wingding by sfspca.org now in September.

More in SF Bay Area Annual Events or see Mission Annual Events


The Mission's legacy as a metro center for working class and immigrants has led to a concentration of non-profit organizations and a reputation as a center to progressive alternative thinking. 

Craigslist Nonprofit job listings and want ads

The Nonprofit FAQ
Information For and About Nonprofit Organizations

Pagan groups || Cuban solidarity Groups by sfbg.com
The Mission and Berkeley share a progressive left view on life, plus multiple BART stations and lots of dedicated global citizens.


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bernal heights
|| castro || noe valley || potrero hill || soma || lower haight ||
lower polk/van ness  || upper haight || western addition || cole valley || hayes valley

Our partner in this web guide, the New Mission News is distributed in these six neighborhoods. These other nearby neighborhoods of the sunbelt are worth getting to know too. Only upper Haight and a few parts of SOMA become overrun with tourists in the summer.

A Newspaper For A New Progressive Majority is still going on-line

info on businesses, culture, and people.
The industrial zone is becoming a cultural oasis dominated by galleries, lofts  and multimedia companies

Noe Valley by sfgate
"A quaint area where people know each other's names, babies rule the sidewalks and outdoor cafes draw summertime crowds."

online directory to the neighborhood's businesses



Diego Rivera, Radical Politics, and San Francisco's Public Murals (published April '99 ) Click now for more info
Murals of California, by Robin J. Dunitz click tor read the review
148 pages 3rd edition (April 1998) by Timothy W. Drescher, Willie Brown (Preface), You Save: $3.99 (20%) at amazon.com CLICK NOW
Introduction || How to get there || Latin Food & Drink || Where to eat || Top Eateries || Music & Nightlife || Other Business || History || The Mission District || Present & Future || Kids & Families || Tours || Valencia St. || 24th Street || Latin Arts || Mission South of -Cesar Chavez || Arts & Theatre || Film & Video || Audio Valley || Murals || Festivals || Non-Profit || Nearby Neighborhoods

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Last Update June 2005
Last link check June 2005