7.2 out of 10

Mission District

Ranked 50th best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7561462994208 -122.415125495351
Great for
  • Eating Out
  • Public Transport
  • Nightlife
  • Internet Access
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Parking
  • Lack of Traffic
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Singles
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Hipsters
  • Retirees

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Aug 30, 2011
Editors Choice

"A Mission for After College"

So the Mission is known basically for two things—as a hipster haven and a high crime area. Both of these explain and are explained by the relatively moderate rents. Hipsters flock here because it is as close to action you can get while paying only about $1K/mo. in rent. Crime explains why the rents remain so low.

There are a lot of run down and boarded up businesses in areas of the Mission that make it look like your typical victim of urban blight. What is strange is that in many spots you can go one street over to find a perfectly lovely lane that would seem to be a part of an idyllic SF neighborhood. There are even a couple of beautiful alleyways filled with murals—urban art alleys really. This is the strange mix which is the Mission.

Crime—So how bad is crime? Well, last year there were 50 murders in all of SF. In the Mission District, there were 6 murders in 2010. So 12% of all murders that occurred in SF happened in the Mission. (Though we are now at the end of August and so far there have only been 2 murders.) If you look at it relative to population, we find that the 45,000 that live in the Mission make up about 5.5% of the population of SF’s ~815K. So your chances of being murdered in the Mission are about twice as high as in the rest of SF. You are also more likely to be assaulted and robbed here especially around 16th street and South Van Ness. That seems to be the epicenter of Mission violence.

That said, 6 of 45K is not really that big of a chance—being only about one in 7,500. (There a fair number of neighborhoods in Oakland’s Fruitvale District where you are at more than twice the danger.)
If you are willing to take your chances and live with the occasional car break-ins, burglaries and possibility of violence, you will find the Mission also has a lot to offer including:

Bookstores--The Mission is known for its several cool bookstores, including Borderlands, Dog Eared Books, and Modern Times. (Also a handful of news stands.)

Bars and Lounges--This is hipster town so, of course, lounges and dives abound, including the Morac Restaurant and Lounge (a Moroccan themed joint—very exotic), Nihon (a Japanese themed whiskey bar), and Casanova, Delirium and Elbo Room. Those are just a few—really there are tons of them.

Restaurants--The world has congregated here. Not only do you get the taco joints you would expect in a place called the Mission, but you also have Italian places like Delfina, sushi joints like Minako, Turkish restaurants like Tuba, Indian eateries like Aslam’s Rosoi, Peruvian bbq’s like Limon, and even Ethiopian places like Café Ethiopia and a handful of Basque tapas bars like Picaro.

Clothing Stores—Lot’s of these along Valencia. Buying clothes isn’t my thing, but if it is yours just take a stroll down there.
With Dolores Park to the west at the border with the Castro, great revival cinemas, the Downtown area to the north and the start-ups in the SoMa, Potrero to east and relatively quiet Bernal to the south, the Mission is great, high energy spot perfect for those tech mavens and artsy types. It’s a wonderful place to spend a year or two after college living it up and finding your place.

I also want to give a shout out to Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia Street, a volunteer project to help kids develop their writing and thinking skills so they can go to college and make a better life for themselves. Eggers, who you may know from his books (especially A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), is one of the truly good hearted people in the city and his organization definitely could use all the support it can get.
Pros
  • Great Bookstores
  • Great restaurants
  • Community of young people
  • Good nightlife
  • Relatively affordable
Cons
  • Sketchy at night
  • Some dangerous blocks
  • A little dirty
  • Noisy
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5
Oct 22, 2013

"Perhaps the Largest Concentration of Killer Taquerias in the U.S."

With its rich cultural background, amazing array of restaurants and bars, and arty vibe, it’s no wonder San Francisco’s Mission District landed a No. 2 ranking on Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods list.

The historically Latino neighborhood began changing in the 1990s, as young tech workers moved in and trendy shops and restaurants opened. Today, it’s an interesting mix of old and new with upscale cafes serving up single-origin espresso down the street from decades-old appliance stores and taquerias.

Residents enjoy some of San Francisco’s best weather and terrific access to transit, including numerous Muni bus lines; two BART stations; proximity to Highway 101 and Interstate 280; and stops on various Silicon Valley employee shuttles. Two Caltrain stations are just a short distance away, and bicycling remains a popular way to get around the neighborhood.

Perhaps the Mission’s biggest draw is its robust nightlife and dining scene. A few favorites include longtime staple La Taqueria, the popular Taqueria Cancun, Tartine Bakery & Cafe, Flour + Water, Foreign Cinema, Delfina, Universal Cafe, and Mission Pie, among numerous others.

For a cultural fix, head to gallery and event space The Lab, the 826 Valencia writing nonprofit (and pirate shop!), the Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, the Roxie Theater, or Galeria de La Raza.

The Mission Recreation Center offers indoor soccer, and crowds flock to Dolores Park on sunny days for the views, lounging, playground, and tennis courts. A line for delicious scoops regularly snakes around the block at Bi-Rite Creamery near the park.

Mission, Valencia, and 24th streets are the neighborhood’s main business streets, and homebuyers include young singles, empty-nesters, and couples.

Mission homes for sale run the gamut from Victorians to two- to four-unit buildings to upscale condominiums, including a newer 16-unit building at 411 Valencia St.

In September 2012 the median sale price for Inner Mission condominiums and single-family homes increased 56 percent to $810,000, up from $520,000 a year earlier, according to MLS data. That same month, the number of homes for sale dropped 26 percent, while the number of properties under contract shot up 80 percent.
Pros
  • Sunny
  • Great restaurants
  • Good nightlife
Cons
  • Some dangerous blocks
  • A little dirty
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Aug 09, 2011

"Way too big to just be one neighborhood"

The Mission District is the biggest neighborhood in San Francisco proper. And, it changes so drastically within just a matter of blocks that it's really hard to classify. So, I'm gonna break it up into sections. People talk about the Mission District being hipster . . . and it is. But, it's mostly hipster ridden only in the Valencia / 16th Area. I liken this part of the mission to the Bedford Stop of Williamsburg. Yeah, other parts of the Mission are hipster, but this is the only area that is unbearably so. The cool thing about hipstertown, though, is that it brings in cool things like the Roxie. The Roxie is an indy / art house theatre that is beyond awesome and I doubt it would be here if it weren't for the skinny pants brigade. The Victoria Theatre is also worth a look.

The Mission around Petrero seems to me where the hipsters are on their way. It's not as expensive or trendy as Valencia. But, it's getting a little artier with some cool restaurants and lofts. The rent is a little more reasonable so it's also a little more sketchy / dangerous. But, it's considered to be gritty and arty by a lot of people. And, from what I can tell, the mustaches here belong to people that actually make things as opposed to punk kids with trust funds. Cafe Gratitude has a veggie juice with kale and ginger that is pretty much to die for. I go to this part of the mission for that juice alone so it warrants a shout out.

The middle of the Mission District has about a million murals on it . . .and that's about it. I don't hang in this part of the Mission. Nothing downright horrible to say . . nothing great either. I say, pass.

The Mission around the corridor is the part of this "neighborhood" that makes me laugh every time people claim the Mission is a hipster enclave. It is green and hilly and has Victorian massive homes that would make a hipster shiver in his skinnies. Also, hipsters don't sunbathe and there's a lot going on here (when you can which is, granted, almost never). It's so beautiful here that it makes me wonder how it can possibly be considered the same neighbhorhood as the Valencia part. The rents are decent all things considered in the Mission across the board. Some parts of it are sketchy at night (namely, the middle). And, it's definitely a young, arty neighborhood.. . .read: not exactly Pleasantville. But, it's cool and has a good energy. And, it's definitely one of the artiest areas. I feel like if you're young and a yuppie, you live in the Marina. And, if you're artsy (poor but cool) you live here. Just avoid the middle. Honestly, anywhere that has a lot of wall murals cannot be considered safe.
Pros
  • Great restaurants
  • Community of young people
  • Good nightlife
  • Relatively affordable
Cons
  • Sketchy at night
  • Some dangerous blocks
  • A little dirty
  • Noisy
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Jul 25, 2011

"Home of the Hipsters"

One of the largest neighborhoods in San Francisco, the Mission District is home to a bustling crowd of hipsters and offers the best Mexican food in the city. The area is mainly residential, but local businesses, little boutiques and eclectic thrift stores are peppered throughout the Mission.

Cruise through 15th and Valencia where there’s plenty of restaurants and trendy bars attracting the young and hip. The Elbow room is a popular destination among locals featuring a private upstairs dance club but can get crowded quickly on a Saturday night. If you’re looking for a trendy spot for dinner, head towards Bryant Street. The strip boasts an up and coming feel with a variety of dining choices.

The Mission is always buzzing with life. Mainly because the district always seems to have better weather than the rest of San Francisco. If you want to soak up some culture, the mission is home to many art exhibits, galleries and public art projects.
It’s also easy to get to, offering two Bart stations (16th Street Station and 24th Street Station) and a few more Muni stops. It gives the neighborhood quick access to downtown San Francisco. If you choose to drive, street parking can be a bit troublesome. The further south you get, the easier it is to come by.

If you choose to live here, the rent is relatively affordable and the neighborhood is an interesting mix of indie rockers, Latino families, artists and recent college graduates. Those who live in the area can tell you about Dolores Park. One of the few escapes from the city, the park offers a handful of tennis courts and a basketball court at its northwestern entrance. On nice warm days, hundreds of people flock to the area for leisure picnic activities and lawn games.
Pros
  • Great restaurants
  • Community of young people
  • Good nightlife
  • Relatively affordable
Cons
  • Some dangerous blocks
  • A little dirty
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jul 18, 2011

"So much more than meets the eye"

Ahh, the mission district. At first glance, you’ve got another taco place on every block, grown men hanging out on street corners (and openly gawking as you jog past --- seriously, stop), lots of “discount” and “wholesale” stores, even more closed storefronts and abandoned properties, and a general shadiness that detracts a little from every experience there.

Look past that. Those taco places, first of all, are AMAZING. Some of the best (and the freshest) Mexican food I’ve ever had, and always worth the low prices. And if you know where to go, the little diamonds in this slightly rough part of town are shiny and pristine. In the ice cream category, for example, you’ve got a foodie war between Bi-rite in nearby Mission Dolores and Humphrey-Slocombe on the east side of the Mission. Both amazing, both worth a try. Up and down trendy Valencia Street, the furthest west street in this area, you’ve got used book stores, consignment fashion spots, fantastic eateries of all sorts, and the kind of quirky little shops you usually only find in Haight Ashbury.

Also, this place is convenient to get to. The 49 takes you down here from anywhere on Van Ness. The 12 takes you here from Soma and South Beach. There’s a BART station on 16th. Basically, all roads lead to (or near) the Mission.
Pros
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • Sketchy at night
  • Some dangerous blocks
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Nov 07, 2010

"Eclectic, Sketchy and Trendy"

The Mission is one of those places that has great food, a good nightlife, but it's sketchy in some places even during the day light hours. It has some really cool shopping areas and combined with the great restaurants can make it trendy.

The people do not seem overly friendly, perhaps that's because they are guarded. I don't particularly like going to the Mission by myself and I really hate going at night. It's not like Hunter's Point or anything like that, but at night in some parts, it just feels like the ghetto.

The nightlife is great if you are single. So many places to hang out at that are hip and trendy. You can get anything from jazz to grunge. It's very cool in that respect and like I said, some of the best food in the city.
Pros
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • Sketchy at night
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Oct 23, 2010

"Block-by-Block"

The newly gentrified Mission District, while somewhat sketchy depending on where you go, has got to be one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. Valencia Avenue is the true heart of the area, with a great mix of bars and restaurants that are very local-friendly. The Phoenix is always great for a late-night beer in an Irish Pub atmosphere, and nearby Ali Baba's cafe has the best falafel wraps in SF, in my opinion.

Venture over to the district's namesake, Mission Street, and it's another story. The area is still very closely tied to the its Mexican influences, which gives the whole neighborhood a completely different feel. Cancun

The area is also home to Mission Cliffs Climbing Gym, a go-to spot for many city-based adventure seekers. The gym hosts regular climbing competitions, as well as your standard selection of climbing clinics and yoga classes.

Further south, some of the residential areas feel a little sketchy. As a female, I don't really want to walk around Shotwell or even Cesar Chavez alone at night. Even when I go out in this neighborhood, I try to park my car as close to wherever I am as possible.

Overall, this is a fun and relatively affordable neighborhood for the area if you are careful. Have fun, and be safe!
Pros
  • Good nightlife
  • Relatively affordable
  • Community of young people
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • A little dirty
  • Noisy
  • Some dangerous blocks
  • Sketchy at night
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Jul 14, 2010

"More Than Meets the Eye"

I have been to the mission a dozen times for as many reasons. It is a vibrant and ever changing neighborhood that consistently outsmarts those who try to peg it.

My friend Brendan lived in a rent controlled place on Harrison and lamented that he couldn’t afford to move. This from a man who managed one bar in Sunnyvale and tended bar two nights a week in SF, a job where his tips outpaced his management wage for the Sunnyvale job. That’s the city. You’ve got to spend a lot to make a lot.
Night life in the mission is something I felt best about when I was with a local, like Brendan, or our friend Darin, a gay Irish computer programmer who moved from County Clare. Absinthe and Elbow Room were two of our favorites. Many long-time residents of The Mission lament the passing of bygone-bars, places where bikers, dogs, and even Wisconsin grandmothers would be welcomed. While these bars, with free nachos and cheap drinks, may be dwindling, the supportive and congenial attitude toward the individual and his/her creative struggle is alive and well.

We love the Marsh theater, where we used to trek to every year for our favorite Christmas tradition: The Carpenters’ Christmas, a two-actor revisioning of what Richard and Karen did on TV in their heyday. All the great songs, impeccable singing, and the complete transport through time. They actors who returned to the Marsh to make thousands happy each holiday eventually called it quits. And the Marsh on Valencia has a lot to keep us coming back. They are true believers in arts education and I am certainly signing up my storytelling, pink-wearing, princess-loving son, a four year old who can recite most of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty verbatim, for their summer theater storytelling camp for 4-6 year olds. Often the link between art and education is tenuous in the theater arts, but it’s such a pillar of the Marsh Mission. Our next group date night, we want to take in Dan Hoyle’s new show, “The Real Americans.” His model for performance is to craft a show of many voices in a narrative on a common theme. He is an in the trenches researcher who collects oral histories. His recent show, his third of fourth I think, was sparked by a Sarah Palin comment about who the “Real Americans” are. There are lots of great, multiethnic and cheap eats near the Marsh, and (by SF standards) abundant parking.

The Mission is ever more a place of conflicting pulls….. people who were punk before punk was cool…old standbys versus new entrepreneurs… performance art versus marketable art….. But the level of acceptance in a place that has more Spanish speaking inhabitants than any other SF neighborhood persists. That’s why the mission is loveable, despite its dark corners at night scariness.
The perfect symphony of art, language, and food comes in the place called Pancho Villas. Over fifty years of amazing cooking and barely raised prices mean we can get two meals (dinner plates with rice, beans, tortillas, and salad), a horchata, and a beer for around $25. This restaurant is frequented by locals and displays a rotating exhibition of wall art by local artists.

The mission is a stray dog that you can’t leave behind at the pound. It’s been kicked and put down, so it might be a little nippy, but once you trust it and it trusts you, you will find it’s smart, edgy, and capable of a lot more tricks and talents than you ever gave it credit for at first glance.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jun 20, 2010

"Just a great place"

Although it may sound kind of wrong, to me the Mission District is the Chinatown for non-Chinese people. Here in the Mission District you have access to everything you would ever need to sustain life in San Francisco. Although living here may not be as luxurious as other neighborhoods in San Francisco, but if you’re on a low budget the Mission District would be most ideal place for you. You’re living in a somewhat safe neighborhood with close access to produce markets, restaurants, automotive repair shops, a plethora of bike shops, clothing stores, and many other stores.

The Mission District may seem gloomy on a cloudy day because it really isn’t the cleanest place on earth, but on a sunny day the Mission District is soaring with heat and looks really vibrant as people come out to the shops and with their bikes.

I often do see tourists roaming Valencia Street. The sidewalks on Valencia Street are usually packed because of the activity and the enormous number of things to do on Valencia Street. In addition to that riding your bike on Valencia Street is great because of the wide bike lanes and awareness of bikers by drivers makes it especially fun. Most of the time you’ll just see fixed gear bikes going back and forth from bike shops.

For me, Valencia Street is where I’d go to hangout and to do most of my stuff, but there is also Mission Street, and personally I find Mission Street to be a lot more dirty and dark/gloomy compared to Valencia Street. And I have noticed that there are slightly more Hispanics roaming Mission Street than on Valencia Street. But then again, it could just be me.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 09, 2010

"Heart & Soul, Viva La Mission!"

Traditionally a working-class Latino neighborhood, over the last few decades the Mission has been rocked by the forces of gentrification. There is a palpable tension that exists between the neighborhood’s old and new residents, however it is giving rise to many extraordinary things. The Mission is an artist’s mecca. Even if some artists cannot afford to live there, the Mission is home to many performance venues, galleries and artist hangouts in the city. The best way to get around the Mission is to walk or bike. The streets are flat enough to get around with ease and parking is horrendous.

The Mission has multiple personalities. If you stick to Mission Street 17th to Cesar Chavez, you won’t see many hipster hangouts, rather family-owned restaurants, small businesses, and 99 cents stores. Around the 16th Street BART station there is a wild mix of hipsters, artists drug addicts, tourists and families. Although this is one of the skuzziest corners of San Francisco, there are several fantastic places to visit including Weird Fish—a tiny wonder of a restaurant on 17th and Mission; The Dark Room—a performance venue featuring experimental theater shows; Taqueria Can Cun—a miraculous traditional Mission tacqueria, an outstanding yoga studio right across the BART station on 16th called Yoga Kula and the uber-hip albeit somewhat out of place Bar Bambino.

The Lower Mission, between 20th-24th Streets and Shotwell and Bryant Streets is a great area to live in the Mission. Although there are occasionally some gang problems at night, for the most part the area is more quiet and safe than other parts of the Mission. There is a wonderful café at 20th and Alabama called Atlas Café—featuring delicious organic food, local art on the walls and live local music in the backyard. The Homestead, formerly Dylan’s (19th and Harrison) is a great neighborhood bar. The Lower Mission is also known as The Golden Triangle because it sees more sunshine than most parts of the city.

Valencia Street from 14th to Cesar Chavez is the main hipster drag. There are tons of performance venues, shops, bars and restaurants to visit here—some of the most intriguing are Amnesia (especially Sunday nights), Intersection for the Arts (theater and gallery), WeBe Sushi, Bar Tartine, 826 Valencia, Lost Weekend Video and The Painted Bird. The 22nd Street corridor from Guerrero to Mission is also full of wonderful places to see and been seen including the Lone Palm, Bugaloos, Radio Havana, Picaro, Lucca, The Revolution Café, and The Makeout Room. The 24th Street corridor from Bryant up to Guerrero is a transporting place to spend time, especially during Carnival in May or the Dia de Los Muertos celebration at the end of October.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
May 14, 2010

"La Boheme Meets La Cucaracha"

If the musical “Rent” were set in San Francisco instead of New York, it would have to take place in the Mission. Nowhere else in the City by the Bay do so many young dreamers collide with the old and gritty reality of an urban landscape and make such intriguing and appealing music.

The place fairly hums with life, not only with cars and buses and mopeds zipping around, but also with bicyclists and bipeds, most of them riding and walking purposefully somewhere (to jobs or stores), some meandering aimlessly (panhandling on commercial streets), and still others looking (for odd jobs, to score drugs, or to sell sexual favors). The gamut of clothing styles and demeanors, from button-down young professionals and Carhartt-clad tradesmen to pink-haired punksters and their dark-and-dour Goth cousins, gives a good notion of the cross-section of San Franciscans residing here. Throw into the mix an assortment of grandmas in gray skirts, blue sweaters and sensible shoes shopping for supper as well as a parade of schoolkids (some in plaid uniforms, others in the uniform du jour: baggy jeans and T shirts), and you have a snapshot of the very diverse Mission, population 75,000 and counting, on any given day. (For the record, U.S. Census Bureau figures show that the enclave’s documented residents are roughly half white/non-white Hispanic and about one fourth white, with the remaining quarter comprised of Asians and African Americans. And fairly young: the median age is 32.)

The area is densely populated, and looks it: Cars rim the streets and even clog the sidewalks in front of garage doors. Needless to say, parking space is at a premium; the city’s Department of Parking and Traffic issues or “I,” “W,” or “Z” resident parking permits (depending on the zone) for $96 a year that enable you to leave your car in the same spot for up to 72 hours without getting ticketed or towed. Also owing to the sheer numbers of people living in such a confined space, urban grit is evident on pretty much every street: Dust and dirt flies from ubiquitous construction projects as the area undergoes constant renovation and renewal (some would call this gentrification, as older single-family housing is replaced by condos and multi-unit apartment buildings). Cigarette butts litter the sidewalks, and many folks appear to think of the gutter as the best place to discard used coffee cups and fast-food wrappings, freebie newspapers and fliers, and even household garbage (rather than the intended blue and black containers that line door stoops and alleys). Vermin—rats, mice, and cockroaches—thrive in this wasteland.

Not that the occasional oasis doesn’t pop up: take the tree-lined block of Shotwell between 21st and 22nd Streets, its brightly painted bungalows and two-story facades and stairways the picture of quaint tidiness. Even busy Folsom Street has leafy lengths, opening up here and there to one of the neighborhood’s pocket parks (Parque Niños Unidos or Folsom Playground). Houses on these blocks often fetch the highest prices, too: in an area where single-family homes can range from $350,000 to twice that, a restored house on a quiet, green street can go for $1 million or more. Likewise, rents tend to be more the farther away you get from busy streets: A tiny studio in a rundown building on Valencia might go for under $1,000, but you’ll pay upwards of $1,200 the farther west and east of Valencia and Mission streets you go.

Because graffiti is more an art form than a crime in the Mission District, it’s not surprising that the sides of many buildings are tagged, some of them so beautifully so that they rise to the level of mural. Balmy Alley, off 24th Street between Treat Avenue and Harrison Street, features numerous painted garage doors and fences. Precita Eyes, one of only three community mural organizations in the United States, nurtures the form in the Mission and throughout San Francisco with workshops and tours. Visual being the key here, the area also hosts a number of galleries (Galeria de la Raza, Artist X-Change, et al.), studios and spaces for artists, filmmakers, sculptors, and designers of all stripes.

And yet to emphasize what the Mission looks and feels like today is to overlook what it was, a history echoed in the numerous significant landmarks: the many Victorians (now carved into multiple units, some legal, others not) that housed prosperous merchants and businessmen in the 19th century; movie palaces like the El Capitan (now repurposed as a parking garage) that once brought hundreds to watch stars of the silver screen; even the old Irish funeral parlors that hark back to the area’s formerly working-class European immigrants. They serve to remind that the Mission District was and likely always will be a residential area. That so many different people call it home and co-exist more or less peacefully is testament to the power of the melting pot that is San Francisco.

The Mission has always served as a starting point from which people can rebuild their lives, too—hence, the prevalence of public housing. The notorious Valencia Gardens was recently vacated and transformed into a more livable community, and similar transformations are expected for projects elsewhere in the district. People come here not only for the opportunity to get started in the city, but also to stay and raise families, evident in the area’s public schools: four elementary (including George R. Moscone, which earned a 7 out of 10 GreatSchools ranking); a middle school, and a high school. Neither middle school nor high school has received high marks, explaining perhaps why there exists a wide selection of private options, including the innovative Synergy School, offering post-elementary education.

For all of its cramped quarters and car-choked side streets, getting around is, surprisingly, not a problem—particularly if you don’t have to worry about a car (or at least where to park it). BART bisects the neighborhood along Mission Street, underground, giving residents a fast subway route downtown and to the East Bay in one direction and to San Francisco International Airport in the other, with stops at 16th and 24th streets. MUNI buses also run regularly up and down Mission Street (No. 14) and Folsom and Bryant streets (Nos. 12 and 27, respectively), all bound for various points downtown and South of Market. The No. 33 and No. 48 also make swings through the Mission on their circuitous routes across town.

Mission Street is the neighborhood ground zero for shopping, the long succession of shops and markets and stores beginning at 14th Street and stretching for a mile to Cesar Chavez Boulevard and beyond. These blocks (as well as those along much of Valencia Street) are almost too much to take in one pass: explosions of colors and textures and smells to equal that of any Mideast souk. There are apothecaries, bakeries, bookstores, curanderas, delis, electronics shops, fast-food outlets, gold dealers, Indian grocers, jewelers, laundries, meat markets, pet stores, pastry shops, record stores, shoe repairs, TV dealers, used clothing emporiums, vegetable markets, Western wear outlets, yoga studios, and purveyors of zabaglione.

Where to eat is also not an issue. It’s almost a cliché to say you can get whatever you want to eat in the Mission—especially if it’s Mexican. But the truth is not far from that. The area is chockablock with taquerias, especially on main corridors such as Valencia and Mission streets, but also on 16th Street east of Dolores and 24th Street east of Guerrero. Among the heavy-hitters are Taqueria San Jose (near the 24th and Mission BART station), La Cumbre (on Valencia near 16th) and La Taqueria (on Mission near 24th).

But the area’s restaurants, cafes, grocers, produce markets, and specialty food stands bespeak the neighborhood’s diversity as well. Cataloguing the ethnic grocers and eateries is like paging through an encyclopedia of world cuisine; you can find not only good Mexican and Central American food here, but also numerous South American tapas places, Asian noodle houses, sushi bars, a Breton crêperie, Italian restaurants and pizzerias, the odd French/Vietnamese inn, and an assortment of only-in-SF juice joints and a bizarre seafood trap called Weird Fish that has attracted national press attention.

You likely won’t go thirsty here, either. The concentration of bars along Mission and Valencia streets is impressive, as hip hangouts like Bruno’s co-exist on the same stretch as Doc’s Clock, a dive known for its incandescent marquee, which beckons with the words “Cocktail Time.” Beer halls and pubs radiate into the side streets from here, giving meaning to the notion of “neighborhood bar.” Many of these watering holes also feature live music, from a widely diverse roster (jazz, rock, soul, hip-hop, et al.) at the Elbo Room to an eclectic mix of garage bands, folk musicians, DJ, comedy and all the rest at El Rio. In the performing arts category, the neighborhood also boasts The Marsh, a small theater that has developed some big solo shows, and ODC/Dance, a company with a long history in the city and a national reputation for innovation. The Roxie, an arthouse cinema since the 1970s, is home to a number of San Francisco's most popular film festivals.

All the nightlife and entertainment options, coupled with a populace awash in liquor, beg the question of what over-indulgence and its ugly twin, violence and criminal activity, beget in the neighborhood. True to any such confluence of diverse people and cultures, the Mission has some issues with law breakers: it’s among the city’s worst areas for crimes of all sorts, from burglary and larceny to assault and murder. Car break-ins, armed robbery and drug-related larceny account for much of the lawlessness, but gang activity also figures in. In 2007 and 2008, the Mission District witnessed a dozen or more murders each year, with a sharp drop-off in 2009 (widely credited to new policing strategies). The lower trend in 2010 appears to be holding, and enforcement officials are holding their breath as well.

But residents of the Mission don’t seem to mind a little crime, especially since it comes with the neighborhood’s free-wheeling ways and freedom to pursue whatever form of happiness they choose. Add to that the city’s best weather (it’s reported to have the most sunny days versus foggy ones) and the Mission stacks up for many as one neighborhood worth singing about.
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JTB
JTB Great review. I could almost hear the music pouring out on the street and smell the frying chips.
May 13, 2010
PureKrome
PureKrome What an impressive write up of the Mission District! Awesome work SFSully :)
May 13, 2010
FlowerGirl
FlowerGirl Cool job summing up a really eclectic, difficult to capsule neighborhood.
Jul 19, 2010
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5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Apr 13, 2010

"High flavor and culture for low budgets"

A great place to live, if you're short on the cash flow but tolerant of a little griminess. Relatively safe, but there are definitely sketchy characters all around - the homeless and aimless, but even worse off, the drunk hipsters and rowdy college kids. This neighborhood definitely has a lot of flavor; not just the cheap and tasty eats (best tacos and burritos in town) but some more refined dining and drinking spots. Hello, gentrification! Lots of public art, also - we're talking government and privately commissioned murals next door to ambitious taggers. The Mission: there's nothing like it.
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
Oct 17, 2009

"Vibrant and Warm"

Situated on the Eastern side of Twin Peaks and protected from the Pacific winds, the Mission District enjoys a warmer, sunnier climate from April to November. Accessible by BART at 16th and 24th streets, the Mission's restaurants, nightlife, and residential areas are a quick train ride and/or bus ride away.

I have lived on the border of the western side for a year, a block from Valencia street which is home to an increasing degree of 18-25 year olds, a huge array of restaurants that seem to repeat at 16th and 24th streets, and an excellent bike lane that provides easy access to downtown. If you walk down Mission street, you will probably hear whimsical music coming from a claw arcade game, smell a combination of bacon wrapped hot dogs and subway puddles, hear the ringing bells of the ice cream vendors as you walk along a red and blue tiled mosaic pattern that spans the street for blocks ahead.

Great food is everywhere, taco trucks like El Tonayense are everywhere but a new ban on food vendors near schools is stopping burrito sales. Taquerias are on nearly every block on Mission, and sprinkled throughout the street corners alongside delis and produce stands, coffee shops and Chinese cafeteria style restaurants/donut shops.

For exercise, Mission Cliffs is a great place to work out, with 50 foot indoor rock climbing walls, a bouldering section, and a full scale gym.

The Mission is one of the many cultural hearts of San Francisco, as depicted in the many colorful murals around the district. On Thursday nights at 16th Street BART station there is an open-mic/poetry circle, and there are many art galleries that have free openings on the weekends.

The Mission has problems though, it is very noisy at night and there are many homeless. Gang violence also leads to homicide in some areas, but I still feel relatively safe, at least living in the western side of the Mission. It's an active and vibrant place to live, and the close knit feeling I get from having so many neighbors really adds to the sense of community.

When driving north or south, head down Guerrero or South Van Ness, as Mission is usually filled with buses and heavy traffic, and Valencia is filled with bikes.
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5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
Oct 14, 2009

"Where the people are real and the food.. que rico!"

I lived in the Mission for six years recently, and moving away from there was one of the hardest things I've ever done! If only for the loss of amazing burritos! The people are amazingly friendly for the most part (I'm looking at you snobbish hipsters!), and there is a strong community fabric. It always seems like there is a cause that everyone in the Mission is standing up for, which I admire. There are amazing pubs, murals abound and, I can't stress enough, the food is something that I dream about.
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3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jul 21, 2009

"Lots of interesting, small treasures."

Living between 22nd and 23rd street near Church Street gives you good access to most of the Mission District and Noe Valley. A short walk uphill takes you to the shops of Noe Valley with nice views of the city, while a few blocks in the other direction takes you to Valencia and Mission streets. On the way, you pass an amiable coffee shop, Quetzal, and several other restaurants and bars. It’s easy to find what you want in the neighborhood by walking a few blocks. There are dive bars, fancy wine bars, coffee shops of all stripes and yummy brunch spots. If you’re interested in shopping, it runs the gambit from thrift stores to interesting boutiques. The Mission is definitely my favorite spot in San Francisco.
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3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 22, 2009

"Mission District, A terrific Neighborhood"

Yes, this might be a dodgier part of San Francisco, but I still love it. Where else can you get such a diverse mix of people, and the cheapest and most delicious restaurants around? Walking around the mission district, there are tons of little boutiques where you can pop in to shop, thrift stores running all the way down Mission street and Valencia, and delicious eats (my favorite is DOSA). The best part of the neighborhood is that the rent is not tooo ridiculous (I found a rent controlled room in an apartment on Natoma for $440). Watch out for the somewhat seedy characters on Mission itself and near the BART, but take time to enjoy a lovely afternoon at Dolores Park or an EXCELLENT cup of coffee and Ritual.
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Mar 17, 2009

"Still vibrant after all these years"

When I moved to the Mission in 1994, it was on the edge of great and lasting change. While Mission Street and eastwards has managed to maintain its longstanding Latino, family-oriented ambiance from before 2000, once-working-class Valencia Street transformed itself during the dot-com boom and hasn't looked back since. From a quiet, dimly lit street with just a few night-time bars and restaurants (it was actually even a little spooky, I remember), the Valencia "corridor" is now one of the city's centers of nightlife, with something for everyone -- not to mention modern condos replacing much of the old Victorian architecture. Upscale, downscale, and funky are the choices for eating, drinking, and shopping; good coffee and good Mexican food abound. The delicious part of living here is that the Mission has many flavors, all mixed in close together. One of my single favorite blocks, the 16th-to-17th stretch of Valencia, starts with a check-cashing place and Latino market, ends with two taquerias, and boasts in between an Indian market, We Be Sushi, two Vietnamese places, a couple of bars, a Mexican party place, a used/new bookstore, Arinelli pizza, and gourmet retail therapy. Tired of the Valencia scene? Hang out at fabulously diverse (and somewhat overused) Dolores Park, the kind of place you can throw your bike down, eat your gourmet picnic food and ice cream from Bi-Rite, view-gawk, and people watch (the park's social scenes extend from the gay "beach" above the kiddie playground, downhill to the doglovers, outdoor birthday parties, occasional hula-hoopers and tight-rope walkers, and stalwart hipsters, and down further to the occasional pick-up soccer game and the homeless who camp out by the tennis and b-ball courts). Stay in the park after dark to make out with your honey or shiver through a free movie night (two guys in my building are involved in the latter). But not lastly, take a long stroll east of Mission to see the following: run-down yet still pretty Victorians, housing working-class families, Folsom Street lined with lovely willow trees all the way up to Bernal Heights (they were planted by a single inspired resident years ago), Mexican panaderias (bakeries) wafting fresh baked goodness along 24th, murals tucked away in unlikely corners, the imposing red brick of SFGH's buildings along Potrero, at least two very quiet small parks, two rec centers (including pool) frequented by kids and adults, the lively Dance Mission, artists' studios (Open Studios will get you a glimpse), and the hidden pulse of Burning Man in the city. The weather will never disappoint you, and your feet or bike will take you, in four directions and fifteen minutes, to Noe Valley, the Castro, Hayes Valley, Civic Center, Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, and beyond. To the Mission: you will always be the heart of the City for me. I love you.
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3/5
Mar 15, 2009

"Good Stuff in the Urban Throng"

This part of the city is hopping with activity. People are out late, bars are open and you can even get some late night eats. Enjoy the burrito shop at 24th and Mission for the late night eating, or on weekends, thursday -saturday night, enjoy one of the best places to eat in the Mission, the Pork Store on 16th. The piggy special is the way to go and they have the best French Toast of anywhere I've been in the city.

Burners will enjoy the clothing and accessories at 5 and Diamond. There's a great hat store on Valencia near 15th. And if you want some inexpensive and great Indian food, try Pacwan on 16th.

For those who are building things, Discount Builder Supply is the biggest supply location in the city that I know of and they have so much of what you might need.

Be careful parking here and consider avoiding 16th and Van Ness.
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4/5
Mar 13, 2009

"The place to party!"

The Mission District offers a little something for everyone. There are great restaurants, obscure clubs, vintage clothing by the pound, and a lot of really interesting people.

Mission District takes the lead in bar hopping, as noted by locals. Amnesia, is a Belgium bar with a neighborhood feel. You will find the DJ spinning a nice round of 80s new wave one hit wonders to full-fledged funk. Also of note is the Whisper (San Francisco’s sexiest dance lounge) and Bruno’s (a swanky be-bop bar featuring tunes from the 50s and 60s).

For a traditional Basque and Spanish dining experience, don’t miss Café Arguello on Mission Street. Family owned and operated, and where the Sangria goes with anything. On the weekends they offer a gypsy flamenco dancer.

You will never get bored in the Mission District!
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Best Streets in Mission District

1

Sycamore St

4/5
"Love this spot!"
37.7626457524324 -122.420555251958
2

Folsom St

4/5
"Diversity on Folsom Street"
37.7611355818658 -122.414903325043
3

Bartlett St

3.5/5
"Tree-lined street in the heart of the Mission"
37.7523558759192 -122.419573117261
4

Shotwell St

3.5/5
"Best Block in the Mission. Period."
37.7563603516454 -122.415543681607
5

Mission St

3/5
"A very busy street that runs through the city."
37.7608582167724 -122.419266695345
6

20th St

3/5
"Not much to do, but leads to an excellent view of San Francisco Bay"
37.7589527093841 -122.413768372845
7

Cesar Chavez

3/5
"Long fun filled street. "
37.7487656799091 -122.406759060746
8

Bryant St

3/5
"Bryant has it's ups and downs"
37.7599114171742 -122.409947803924
9

Treat Ave

2.5/5
"rad street"
37.7613831710182 -122.413896205529
10

Harrison St

2/5
"Sketchy, but Near Fun Bars and a Great Climbing Gym"
37.7608149653351 -122.412698861007