BBE Editor's Pick
La Oaxaqueña Bakery and Restaurant
2128 Mission St., San Francisco (Mission)
What makes one Mexican restaurant in the Mission stand out from the rest? Sure, there’s the electric orange walls dotted with Oaxacan handicrafts; and then there’s the cheerful and attentive service, reflecting a pride in the place that has you planning to come back before you even try the food. But make no mistake, at La Oaxaqueña, the focus on regional specialties makes it a destination. We won’t blame you for chickening out and not ordering the grasshopper tacos, but don’t skip the soft and creamy banana-leaf-wrapped tamales filled with chunks of chicken or turkey in a mildly sweet and black as night mole sauce, a sophisticated mélange of subtle spices. Another favorite dish is the tlayudas, pizza-size crunchy tortillas that come topped with a layer of creamy beans, cheeses, lettuce, meat and a dab of guacamole. The spicy pork topping cecina is particularly tender and not too hot. One tlayuda is enough for about four people, as is the pitcher of whisked-to-a-frenzy, chile-spiked frothy-capped Oaxacan hot chocolate. It may be a hole-in-the-wall, but the place is also a bakery, so you can count on a slice of succulent tres leches cake, consolation if their flan (which the San Francisco Bay Guardian called Best Custard in a Cup) is sold out.
Tres leches cake
There are just a few tables in this little storefront restaurant, but the window seats will afford you a prime view of the Mission Street action.
chew on this
The mural on the wall pays homage to Benito Juárez, an indigenous Oaxacan, who served five terms as president of Mexico and was known for having resisted the French occupation and for overthrowing the Austrian emperor installed in Mexico, Maximilian I. The centerpiece quote “el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz” means “respect for the rights of others is peace.” It is inscribed on the coat of arms of Oaxaca.
Mon.–Sun. 12 noon–2 AM
$9.50 (chicken mole) to $12.95 (venison plate)
2128 Mission St. (between Clarion Alley and Sycamore St.), San Francisco, CA 94110; 415-621-5446