What better way to get pumped up for next week’s Cinco de Mayo celebration than to talk top Mexican restaurants? Check out NileGuide’s top 10 list of the best Mexican cuisine in San Francisco. This is dangerous territory because, like sushi, every San Francisco local has their absolute fave Mexican joint and could spend hours debating over Negro Modelos and shots of Patron.
I give top honors to Velvet Cantina for their cactus enchiladas and intensely flavorful mole sauce, as well as for their laid back yet lively atmosphere. Nopalito ranks high up there too for their innovative use of locally-sourced ingredients. It’s nearly impossible not to start off with the Totopos con Chile – tortilla chips drenched in salsa de arbol, cotija cheese, lime and crema…por favor!
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You’ll find taquerias in every neighborhood and street corner of San Francisco, and even though Taqueria Cancun is repeatedly deemed “the best” by local alt weekly newspapers (and granted, the veggie burrito rocks with that toasted tortilla), there are dozens of other contenders who could claim the title. Pancho Villa is a staple on the taqueria scene; notice the (quick-moving) line snaking out the door at any time of day. Some people wax poetic about La Taqueria’s marinated meat burritos. I like Gordo’s no nonsense approach to the burrito, and I have a secret favorite, La Mexicana, in Lower Nob Hill (shrimp burrito = bliss).
Whether you prefer the grab-and-go taco truck (como El Tonayense) or lean towards sophisticate Mexican fare (como Mamacita), you better load up your gut before the Cinco de Mayo parties. The celebration of Mexico’s surprising victory over French armed forces in the Battle of Puebla is actually not a Mexican holiday – it has more significance in the United States and is observed nationwide.
San Francisco’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration will take place in the Mission, claro! Dolores Park will transform into a vibrant festival of Mexican and Latin American cultures featuring music, dance, art, and, of course, food from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.
High rollers may be interested to spending Thursday, May 5 at the Hecho en San Francisco benefit for CUESA (the Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture) and La Cocina, presented by Tacolicious. $50 gets you all the Mexican food and drink you desire from 10 diverse San Francisco Mexican restaurants. Oh yeah, and not to mention the goods from Don Julio, Herradura, Corona, Caliberico wines…¡aprovechar!
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