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Mission: Possible

Mission: Possible


More than possible, in fact it’s easy to find international cuisine, cutting-edge art and music, hip retail outlets, and more in San Francisco’s Mission District, which has been described as the trendiest neighborhood in the world. Here is our take on the best places to go in the Mission.

The Breakfast Supremacy

A great way to start the day is at Craftsman and Wolves, a contemporary patisserie whose pastries balance the sweet with the savory in the French tradition. Their Rebel Within muffin is said to be a breakfast you can hold in your hand. In addition to coffees, teas, and hot chocolate, they also offer sipping caramel to go with.

Get Art

A morning constitutional following breakfast would be well spent doing reconnaissance on the innumerable murals around the neighborhood, among them: Balmy Alley, perpendicular to Harrison and Treat Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets, with its dedication to social justice and political protest, and Clarion Alley, off Mission Street between 17th and 18th Streets running to Valencia Street, where the emphasis is on inclusivity and aesthetic originality.

The Girl from S.F.C.M.C.

Graduates of the San Francisco Community Music Center are highly trained in the use of their instruments, thanks to the inexpensive instruction provided by the nearly 100-year-old community arts organization, here and at the Richmond neighborhood campus. Anyone can get in on the action at Amnesia, which “sees more action in a week than others will see in a lifetime,” offering live entertainment every night of the week encompassing every imaginable musical style or genre. Just listening in, without recourse to the Patriot Act, can be accomplished at Aquarius Records, home to an eclectic inventory of vinyl, CDs, and DVDs.

For Your [CENSORED] Only

For a less public type of entertainment, Good Vibrations has a wide range of adult toys, gifts, books, videos, and other erotica. The store also hosts discussions, workshops, and presentations for various audiences and the general public.

The Man with the Golden Gift

The offerings at Currents make shoppers want to hold on to their socks or just buy new, mismatched pairs made from recycled material by the Sock Lady, and then stock up on lush health and beauty supplies. When it’s home and headquarters that need supplying, Paxton Gate has an array of innovative home décor items, from the simple to the fantastic. If said purchases are intended for a friend back home, they’d be nicely paired with a card from Serendipity. Stopping in at Therapy while in the area ensures being dressed to kill.

Host Protocol 

When it’s time to recharge and refuel, reservations are recommended at Central Kitchen, where the fare is exquisitely prepared if daintily proportioned, but dropping in is less danger-fraught at Salumeria, a gourmet deli sharing space with Central Kitchen and offering sandwiches, cheese plates, chocolate, and jams. Their sister restaurant, Flour and Water, is also worth investigating.

Live and Let Fry

Duck! It’s a Flying Falafel! There is also a risk of hummus saucers or a volley of chocolate Frisbees. Those not afraid to live dangerously, however, might try the heart-stopping comfort food at Luna Park, where a curtained booth will prevent anyone spying them stuffing themselves or falling into a bottomless mimosa at brunch, or perhaps lay low at Schmidt’s, sampling the beer and potato salad. For true truck-stop style dining, though, intrepid diners should venture just over the border into SoMa and eat at one of the stopped trucks that inhabit StrEat Food Park at the intersection of 11th and Folsom Streets.

The Wine Is Not Enough

Fortunately, there’s plenty of food to go with it at St. Vincent, where the patron saint of winemakers is given proper tribute in his namesake restaurant, and the wine list is so carefully curated that the rest of the menu is designed to complement it rather than the other way around. However, those whose devotion runs toward the hop rather than the grape might favor The Abbott’s Cellar, where beer is literally their bible, which the cicerones can quote, chapter and verse.

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—By J. Eric Miller
A long-time resident of San Francisco, J. Eric Miller continues to seek out the unusual, delicious, bargain-priced, and terrific things the city has to offer.




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