1. The Mission
San Francisco, CA
As I mentioned earlier, one of the central factors Liz and I discussed when coming up with this list dealt with a mix of old and new. Well, the Mission has that in spades. And though I don’t quite understand the history of that cliche, I do get the Mission’s: founded around the Mission San Francisco de Asis by Spanish missionaries in 1776, it expanded when the Spanish government gave permanent land-owning grants (ranchos) to prominent Spanish-Mexicans with names you may recognize, like Dolores, Guerrero, and Valenciano.
Fast-forward to the 1940s and '50s, when many more Latinos moved into the area after being moved off Rincon Hill while the Bay Bridge was being built, and from Central America during times of civil war. After this, Latin food culture in the Mission became prominent, most clearly defined today by the national dominance of the Mission-style burrito (I like La Taqueria the most, and apparently so does Nate Silver AND THE WORLD). But on top of the fact that you can get high-level, low-price Mexican food at any number of places along Mission and Valencia, the Mission continues to be the arbiter of cool and new food/drink trends in the city, from earlier entrants like Delfina, Bar Tartine, Beretta, and Bi-Rite, to Trick Dog, Flour + Water, Mission Chinese, Lazy Bear, and literally so many more. Nowadays the balance between the old and new has gotten more precarious with soaring prices, and a tense relationship with tech, but it doesn’t change the fact that -- for eating and drinking in America -- no other ‘hood can hold a candela to the Mission.
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Kevin Alexander is the Executive Editor at Thrillist, and he's REALLY PROUD TO BE PROVEN RIGHT BY NATE SILVER. Follow him: @KAlexander03.
Liz Childers is the Cities Strategy Director at Thrillist, and would take a Trick Dog from Trick Dog right now, please. Please? Follow her: @lizchilders1.