Stroll along the Mission’s wide avenues and you’ll be struck by the profusion of taquerias, pupuserias, produce markets, Salvadoran bakeries, salon de bellezas (beauty salons), auto-repair shops and check-cashing centers that post rates for wiring money to Guatemala and Nicaragua — all evidence of the Central American and Mexican families that have been settling the Mission en masse since the 1950s.
You’ll also notice plenty of cafés, thrift shops and used-book stores that cater to the college grads, artists, activists and other alterna-types that have historically been drawn to the Mission.
The Internet boom brought on heavy gentrification — trendy restaurants and boutiques blazed in, rents shot up and many Latinos and artists were displaced by the influx of highly paid young professionals. Today, there’s an interesting mix of places that survived the changes and new arrivals that are trying to make the Mission home.
Whether you’re looking to take in the newer, locally-owned stores and cafes or get a taste of the neighborhood’s history and Latin culture, the area is crawling with things to see and do. We’ve broken it down into four areas. While the flavor of the neighborhood changes subtly from block to block, bear in mind that these areas are contiguous and you can easily walk from one to the other. Generally speaking, the 24th Street area is the culturally rich heart of the Mission, the stretch from Dolores Street through to Valencia Street is young and upscale, the area around 16th and Valencia streets hops with nightlife and the industrial area near Bryant Street has some hip, trendy restaurants.