Welcome to San Francisco’s urban canvas.
Forget San Francisco being just a tech city. It’s also about a city in colour, especially in its lively yet varied Mission District. San Francisco’s oldest neighbourhood dates back to 1776 and has been uniquely moulded by its residents of Latin American descent, students and artists ever since. The district is a living and breathing urban canvas, populated with larger-than-life street art murals, vintage stores, authentic street eats and a buzzing nightlife scene.
To get a colourful introduction to the ‘Bay, head to where the rainbow is ever-present with our top places to check out when on a mission in Mission.
Mission’s colour treatment started in the 1980s. Activists painted murals to express to highlight topical and controversial issues that weren’t being discussed at the time, such as social justices and political abuses in Central America.
Nowadays, the district’s two leading mural collectives, artist-collective Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) and community-based Precita Eyes Muralists, are both actively engaged with their local neighbourhoods to encourage innovative, socially charged public art. The best spots to see a rich assortment of murals are along both Balmy Street and Clarion Alley. The larger-than-life murals that appear on residential walls and fences are presented in a myriad of styles. Artists today still touch on the historical issues as well as depict current issues, including gentrification and climate change.
It’s not just about bringing awareness social and political issues as artwork in the area has also been created in the name of fun. A great display of mosaics can be found at 24th and York Mini Park. The small park features a children’s playground with its giant mosaic snake a vivid medley of sparkle. The snake depicts serpent-god Quetzalcoatl, with its head raised (complete a cheeky tongue poke!) from the rubber flooring of the brightly hued fun park.
Dolores Park is the districts’ main public space – a lush green park with lavish views of downtown San Francisco (after the morning mist has cleared!). The park is a popular spot with locals wanting a picnic with a view or endless people-watching opportunities.
Art isn’t the only thing making this area appear bright. Mission’s food scene is rich with colour, especially when it comes to its Latin-American eats.
A visit to the area would not be complete with getting your hands around a burrito. The no-frills Mexican taqueria, El Farolito is a neighbourhood institution. Famed for its bargain authentic Mexican eats at prices so small it’s justifiable to order that “one extra taco” without hesitation.
The Mission District’s palate also weaves authentic cuisines with artesian bites. Dynamo Donut & Coffee bring artesian flare to an American staple, sugary snack. Those that share the same weakness as Homer Simpson will not be disappointed. These rings of dough are made from scratch using seasonal and local ingredients to create unusual flavours including maple and bacon, chocolate star anise and passionfruit milk chocolate.
To compliment Misson’s colourful murals and urban street eats is the areas other famed assets – vintage stores. Many wanting to create their own style will be in awe of the vast selection of used clothing stores around the area. Wallflower Vintage and Afterlife Boutique appeal to the lazy vintage shopper with stock carefully curated. If on a used clothing shopping crusade, Mission Thrift has a vast selection.