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5 Mouth-Watering Mexican Restaurants in San Francisco

Updated on September 2, 2010

Drinking in San Francisco is great but eating here is even better.  We have some of the best chefs and most delicious food found anywhere in the United States, and the diversity of the population here means that there is good food from all different kinds of backgrounds.  And with a large Hispanic population, San Francisco is no stranger to authentic, delicious, and even affordable Mexican food.  From the taquerias in The Mission to the Mexican bistros of the city, the spice of jalapenos is felt all over San Francisco.

show route and directions
A markerPancho Villa Taqueria -
3071 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
get directions

B markerPapalote Mexican Grill -
3409 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
get directions

C markerColibri Mexican Bistro -
438 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
get directions

D markerMamacita -
2317 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
get directions

E markerTaqueria Zorro -
308 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
get directions

Taqueria Zorro in the Mission
Taqueria Zorro in the Mission
Papalote Mexican Grill
Papalote Mexican Grill
Colibri Mexican Bistro
Colibri Mexican Bistro
Mamacita in the Marina
Mamacita in the Marina
Taqueria Zorro in North Beach
Taqueria Zorro in North Beach

5 Yummy Mexican Restaurants in San Francisco

1. Pancho Villa Taqueria, 3071 16th St. (@ Valencia St.), The Mission 415.864.8840

If you’re coming to San Francisco purely with the intention of getting the good, cheap Mexican food that The Mission is known to have, it’s Pancho Villa Taqueria that needs to top your list. The menu is extensive and there isn’t a thing on it that shouldn’t be tried; the flautas are particularly tasty, the salsas are award-winning and the prices are perfect. Even the half-sized burritos here are huge, so you’re never going to leave hungry, even if you show up after stumbling early out of the bars, thinking that you could eat the place out of existence.

2. Papalote Mexican Grill, 3409 24th St. (@ Valencia St.), The Mission, 415.970.8815

Vegetarians and other generally health-conscious eaters tend to look at many of The Mission’s restaurants with a wary eye. And it’s true, a lot of the taquerias to be found on Mission corners think that lard is an ingredient which should be applied liberally. But not Papalote. This Mexican spot makes lean meat dishes fresh to order and offers more in the way of vegetarian dishes than what can usually be expected from any restaurant at all.

3. Colibri Mexican Bistro, 438 Geary St. (@ Mason St.), Nob Hill 415.440.2737

Okay, so maybe The Mission isn’t your style or you’re having one of those nights when you want Mexican food but you’re going out with someone you’d like to impress. Colibri is the opposite of taqueria in every way except for the fact that it still serves terrific Mexican dishes. It’s a bistro which serves its food tapas style so you get a taste of many different things on the menu without stretching your stomach. Featuring live music on Wednesdays and tequila tastings twice a month, this spot brings upscale to Mexican dining in the city.

4. Mamacita, 2317 Chestnut St. (@ Scott St.), The Marina 415.346.8494

There’s a saying that you hear in San Francisco which is “from The Mission to The Marina” and what it reflects is not so much the geographic distance between the two worlds but rather the social differences. That difference is epitomized when you place Mexican food in The Mission alongside Mexican food in The Marina. Marina kids looking to spice up their nights with a little bit of hot sauce can do so at Mamacita where the Mexican food has prices that reflect what neighborhood you’re in but the taste isn’t lacking anything.

5. Taqueria Zorro, 308 Columbus Avenue (@ Broadway St.), North Beach 415.392.9677

So is it true to say then that if you want taqueria style Mexican food, you need to go to The Mission and that if you get Mexican food elsewhere in San Francisco, it’s going to be a bit more upscale? Not at all. Just check out this North Beach spot which is taqueria through and through from the homemade horchata to the only-a-small-dent it makes in your bank account. The food is great and what’s even better is that this spot is open until three in the morning so you can stumble in after hitting up the North Beach bars and satisfy that drunken craving for greasy food with everything from cabeza burritos to prawn tacos.

Although these are some of my top favorite Mexican restaurants in the city, I would encourage visitors and locals alike to check out a variety of different options. There are lots of good Mexican food places in the city. Admittedly, you sometimes do come across a spot that isn’t quite up to par. However, more often than not, you’ll find something good in the restaurants here. For example, I’m not a huge fan of Taco Bar on Fillmore but I’ve discovered that I absolutely love their tortilla soup.

Some of the best spots are ones with forgettable names and unmemorable storefronts. They’re the types of places that you wander across when you are going someplace else and suddenly realize that you’re hungry. You stop in and enjoy a great, usually affordable, meal. This is easiest to find in The Mission but it’s possible to find in many other neighborhoods as well. There’s a place in the SoMA that I never quite remember the name or exact location of but I always enjoy the food there when I happen to pass by and think to stop.

My point here is that San Francisco is a great city to be adventurous in when it comes to your food. Take a chance on the other Mexican restaurants in addition to these top choices.


Submit a Comment

  • elio namora profile image

    elio namora 7 years ago

    ive visited everything:) wonderful meals.

    my favorite was colibri.

    another great article

  • MPG Narratives profile image

    Marie Giunta 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Would love to eat in San Francisco one day, hope to get there soon and be able to use this information.

  • viking305 profile image

    L M Reid 7 years ago from Ireland

    Eating out at Restaurants in San Francisco looks like it could be fun and varied.

    What a wonderful selection of foods and menus available there.