Mexican Restaurants in San Francisco

This section includes our own recommendations on Mexican restaurants. I do love to eat... and eat & eat. San Francisco has awesome restaurants. It's hard to go wrong... unless you stick to the touristy places you see on the tops of the taxi's. However, these are NOT paid advertisements -- our opinions aren't for sale.

La Taqueria may be the most over-rated Mexican restaurant in San Francisco. One of the sole Mexican members of the newspaper's "Top 100" list, this restaurant serves burrito's with no rice, and with juicy slop that you can count on getting all over your clothes. La Taqueria's uniqueness is the use of generous quantities of good quality meat. Most burrito shops use primarily (cheap) rice and beans with a sprinkling of meat. La Taqueria uses the opposite approach - lots of meat / no rice - but may have been taken a bit too far. We were excited to try out La Taqueria with its excellent review ratings from other publications - but were not impressed with the food. We'd rate La Taqueria a "C" -- you can do better. 2889 MIssion Street 415-285-7117

La Cumbre has excellent burrito's and cheap prices located in a really cool part of the Mission District. Also known for its weird paintings and cool clients. 515 Valencia 863-8205

La Rondalla is a step up in the Mexican world from La Cumbre as they are a sit-down place, rather than a "taqueria" take-out. Lots of fun and cool decor in the Mission District @ 901 Valencia / 647-7474. Very cheap at under $10 each with enough margaritas to make you silly.

The Mickey D's of Mexican is Chevy's under your feet everywhere you go. Good Mexican, but never great. Very fast and efficient service. This is a chain and it shows -- consistent, but too boring for around $15/person. 150 4th St @ Howard 543-8060 and at Embarcadero Center and everywhere else you look.

Cafe Marimba is the hot yuppie Mexican restaurant in the trendy neighborhood -- and it actually has great food! With an out-of-place palm tree outside, this Marina/Chestnut restaurant offers very authentic food for around $20 per person in a fun atmosphere. Great bar scene and margaritas too. Our editors revisited Cafe Marimba in March 2001. The food was still great, but parking is near impossible even at paid lots; there was a wait of over an hour; and the noise was deafening. Be aware that at busy times (weekend nights), this is one of the loudest restaurants I have ever encountered. Other than the packed bar, there is not much of a waiting area. Expect to dodge waiters and busboys while you wait... This is a very loud restaurant, and we are not that picky about these things. For our meal, we enjoyed enchiladas with mole sauce and grilled red snapper with onions, tomatoes, and jalopeno peppers. Both of the entrees were delicious and were accompanied by white rice, corn tortillas, and black or pinto beans.
Andy's rating="B" 2317 Chestnut - 776-1506

El Toro Restaurant

El Toro Restaurant

Taqueria El Toro boasts "authentic freshly made with no MSG, lard, or preservatives" and they have great food. For a quick bite, this is a great stop for a take-out atmosphere meal. Be warned - English skills here are in short supply but it makes ordering exciting. Burrito prices average around $5 with meat choices including Carne Asada, Chicken Asada, Cranitas, Spicy Chicken, Tofu Ranchero, Chile Verde Chicken, Al Pastor BBQ Pork, Chile Verde Pork, and Sweet and Mild Mole Chicken. El Toro also has combo dinners that average around $8. Underground Rating for El Toro is "A-". (Reviewed December 2000)

598 Valencia @ 17th Street 431-3351 Open Daily 10-10

Esperpento, is one of the rare places that can be both romantic and fun. My astute readers note that this is a SPANISH restaurant and not technically a Mexican Restaurant. The look and feel of the restaurant is colorful, playful, and exuberant. The bright walls are alive with matador and bullfight posters, fringe shawls, painted plates, and a clock set to the Spanish hour. Expect to be serenaded by a trio of Spanish singers with guitars. The house specialty is the Paella. The wait is long (35-40 minutes), but well worth it! Purists will savor the saffron-laced rice simmered and baked with generous portions of fresh prawns, mussels, and other seasonal seafood. But the wait is more than tolerable if you munch on some delectable tapas (appetizers). The Patata Brava is wonderful -- oven-roasted potatoes drizzled with a smoothly spicy and intriguing sauce. Cost is about $15/person.
3295 22nd Street (Between Mission and Valencia) 282-8867

For burrito lovers - we recommend Burrito Eater -- a comprehensive review guide to San Francisco burritos.