YesYou might be wondering why you’re reading a guide to SF tacos here at LA TACO – it’s really simple: it’s one of the most common guide requests we get. As people travel more, take that very fast flight to SFO, or make the road trip to the 5th, it makes perfect sense. After all, we always need to know where all the right places for tacos are, and you certainly don’t want to be caught slipping into SF.
San Francisco’s taco game is strong, diverse, and delicious. From traveling taqueros to mellow and steamy canasta tacos in the Mission district to specialty cochinita trucks overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco has something to offer.
Here is a list of our LA TACO approved spots.
Delicious Tacos De Canasta
Felipe Reyes is an inspiration. Originally from Mexico City, he cooked in restaurants in San Francisco but was fired when COVID hit. So he took to the streets of The Mission and started selling extra-breathable canasta tacos from a little blue cooler. He has since made and sold hundreds of tacos six days a week. He does six different guisados a day — the chicharron prensado is our favorite and sells first. Felipe walks up and down Mission Street from 10 a.m. and usually sells out at 1 p.m., which is taco de canasta hours. It can be difficult to find at times (most of the time it feels like Felipe is finding you). This piece I did it on him in The Chronicle worth reading.
Follow her Instagram for the last location, and grab it if you can.
La Gallinita meat market
La Gallinita is part carnicería, part Mexicatesan, part taquería and 100% one of my favorite places in The Mission. The company has been in existence for over 60 years and is run by the Vasquez family. You can still find Sal, now approaching his 80s, behind the counter, happily cutting the order for his customers. The thing to get is the taco cecina – they cap the beef themselves, of course, using the thinly sliced round eye and salt it for at least 24 hours before searing it on the plancha to order. They have mano or regular tortillas – the strength of the tortilla is up to you. Salsa roja gets its warmth from the habanero and its color from the arbol and has a fiery punch.
2989 24th St # 4133, San Francisco, CA 94110
Tacos El Pollito
Tacos El Pollito is one of the new taco outfits that have appeared on Mission Street in the last year of the pandemic. Run by a married couple, the Gutierrez family, who work at the Lucky Pork Market a few blocks away (where they also stock up on meat). Their layout reminds me a bit of LA, with a tent on their plancha and a few makeshift tables and chairs around. Late at night, the light from the lamp shines, a beacon that draws the booming crowds to the bars, drunk and hungry. The cecina is solid, they have quesabirria for the masses of course (who doesn’t have one these days?), But for me the cabeza is where it is. The braised beef cheek is juicy, stringy but intact, a sponge for spicy salsas. Mulitas is the way.
2467 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94110
La Taquería is a must-see institution in San Francisco. Since 1973, people have been lining up for the well-wrapped burritos and tacos of the Jara family, and for good reason, they are pfg. A few years ago I broke their secret menu, where it was revealed that you can do all kinds of sneaky menu hacks like getting your dorado burrito – it’s worth reading before a visit. But these days, my biggest protip is unsuspecting hidden in plain sight right on the menu: get a carne asada corn quesadilla – a single corn tortilla is filled with cheese and charred meat and put on the plancha. until melted – it’s basically a DIY quesataco. Add cilantro and cebolla if you like, creamy bright green guacamole and plump pintos make it extra. The green green salsa, however, is not to be missed.
2889 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
There are so many things I love about Loló – the owners to begin with are the warmest and most welcoming: Chef Jorge Martínez Lillard and his wife Lorena Zertuche (who designed the space – she is a literal artist. ), as well as Juan Carlos Ruelas the general manager. Their cocktail program is decidedly mezcal and solid, and they also have a real obsession with natural wines. It’s been around since 2007, and it’s still obvious – the vibe is so real it makes me feel. The food – inspired by California-Jalisco – is eclectic and ever-changing. But what I hold most dear, a mainstay of the menu, are the avocado fried tacos – remember you are in the bay. It’s a creamy avocado coated in panko and fried until crisp with a dollop of jalapeño cream on a flour tortilla with melted Oaxacan cheese – truly one of my favorite dishes in San Francisco.
974 Valencia St, San Francisco, California 94110
El Gallo Giro
El Gallo Giro is a taco truck that parks at the corner of 23rd Street and Treat Avenue at The Mission. Since 2002 Elena Caballero and her husband Jose Perez have been serving some of my favorite dishes carnitas in the city. The salted pork thigh is cooked in a copper cauldron and then crispy a la plancha to order. Some bites have crunchy pieces, others have fatty and meatier pieces, but the best have a bit of both. I always go to salsa roja with this – theirs is deeply heady and complex, slightly smoky and not too spicy.
986-998 Treat Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110
La Torta Gorda
Of course you come to La Torta Gorda for Armando Macuil’s delicious pressed panini tortas, but his Pueblan specialties are the stars. More specifically, the Arabian taco, the big Lebanese import in Mexico, offers tortillas that he sources directly in Puebla and which are stuffed with sliced pork butts that he marinates in orange, lime, vinegar, parsley, onion and oregano before searing them à la plancha. He recommends a schmear of his chipotle morita smokey salsa, but I have a soft spot for his salsa verde crudo, which is loaded with spicy serrano, cilantro, onion, garlic, and a good amount of salt. The choice is of course yours.
2833 24th St, San Francisco, California 94110
Managed by business and life partners Karen González and Sergio Albornoz, who grew up in Yucatán, the colorful cochinita truck sits parked right along the marina with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. There’s not much more of a quaint San Francisco scene as you sink your teeth into their excellent, juicy cochinita pibil. Their charred salsa is made with tomatillos and includes habaneros, jalapeños, and serranos to spice it up, while the pickled red onion has to chop everything up. You can get it as a tacos, but I actually prefer the cochinita pibil panucho or the salbute, both made from fresh masa and blown in hot oil for maximum texture. Sure, they’re technically not tacos, but they’re basically tacos.
Two locations: one in Golden Gate Park and another at 500 Marina Boulevard.