If you find yourself out in the Richmond District, in the northwest corner of San Francisco, craving Mexican food, here’s a guide to the best places to get Mexican dishes like burritos, tacos, margaritas, tequila, and more.
This isn’t some clueless guide written by some non-local writer or bot. Like this one on Yelp: The Best 10 Mexican Restaurants in the Inner Richmond — which goes on to mention places miles away in the Mission. We don’t even have 10 Mexican restaurants in the Richmond!
Instead, this is a local guide written by a local that’s lived in the Richmond 15+ years, and has eaten at all but one of the places below, multiple times. I’m not getting any compensation from any of these restaurants, or anyone, for writing this post.
First, let’s get oriented with a map (open this in Google Maps):
The Richmond is the neighborhood bounded by everything north of Golden Gate Park, west of Arguello, south of the Presidio, and (believe it or not) east of the Pacific.
So, here’s your guide:
Best Mexican food: Taqueria Los Mayas on Clement. I’ve talked a bit with the owner, a Mexican immigrant and entrepreneur, and the dishes are all recipes from his family back home. The food is inspired yet unpretentious. Very creative, with mole sauces, etc. It’s $1-$2 more than Gordo’s but 2x yummier. While they serve drinks and have games on TVs, it’s more a “fast-casual” venue where you can get a quick dinner or lunch rather than somewhere you’d settle in for a long meal and drinks, like Tommy’s or Tia Margarita.
Best Tequila: Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant on Geary. Seriously, one of the best tequila bars in United States, with over 400 bottles. Check out the photo above to see what I mean. The bartenders here can educate you about the different types of tequila — reposado, anejo, all that. Great for drinks, good for dinner, but not a place where you pop in for a burrito.
Cheapest Mexican: Gordo’s on Geary and also Gordo’s on Clement. Solid, fairly healthy, filling, and quick. About $9 with tax as I write this. No frills. It works. If I’m too busy to go anywhere else, I go here.
Most Dive Mexican: Chino’s Taqueria on Balboa. Like Gordo’s, a solid choice. Nothing fancy, and the dive interior is charming. If you’re in the outer Richmond or the beach and don’t want to drive 10 minutes to Inner Clement, head here.
Best margaritas: as the name suggests, Tia Margarita on Clement. An institution that’s been around for 50 years, Tia’s is a great place for watching sporting events if you’re like me and too cheap to spring for cable. The portions are huge and the plates resemble small aircraft carriers, so don’t be afraid to split a meal. Like Tommy’s, it’s for dinner or drinks, not for a quick lunch. The staff is friendly, and the food is reliable but uninspired.
Best to avoid: Taco Bell on Geary. You’d think it’d be impossible to screw up something as simple as a burrito, but they pull it off. A couple of years ago, I got a “burrito” here. The cost was $6, but it was filled mainly with sour cream with very little in the way of actual meat, beans, or rice.
Honorable mention / Most mysterious: Express Liquor and Pupuseria on Geary. I didn’t even know about this until I did research for this post. They say Salvadoran food on their door, but they show up on Yelp when I look for Mexican food. I like the fact that they’re being original by offering Salvadorean food and adding something unique to our neighborhood. And with 4.5 stars, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
So there you have it. The authentic and complete guide to Mexican food in the Richmond District of San Francisco.