{fotos de la mision} Tamales, Hipsters, and Underpants: SF’s 24th St, The Mission

It occurred to me that I always take lots of photos of food and shops and streets and signs when I travel to faraway lands, but I rarely do so in my own town. San Francisco, after all, is a major tourist destination, and there are LOTS of interesting things to photo right here in my own backyard. The area around Bryant and 24th Streets, for example, is a slowly and funkily gentrifying old-school Mexican neighborhood that’s colorful in more ways than one, and it’s a prime spot for a photojournal.

The one, the only, the original- the garish Roosevelt Tamale Parlor sign is a long-standing beacon of this ‘hood. Cute and quaint, with great… wait for it… tamales.
Roosevelt Tamale Parlor: 2817 24th St. between Bryant and York.

Is there possibly a better name for anything than “Discolandia?” Hmm. I think NO. Love the color scheme and stark, slightly askew, sans-serif all caps action as well. No idea what it’s like inside, as woefully I’ve never actually BEEN inside.
Discolandia: 2964 24th St. between Florida and Alabama.

I have always loved the Taqueria Vallarta sign, for many reasons. For one thing, I find it so mysterious that they didn’t make one more segment on the sign so the bottom one didn’t have to share 2 letters. Also, the vertical orientation makes it completely unintuitive and tricky to read what it says. And need I mention it’s cool Mexican flag colors? Still, this case of branding gone majorly wrong hasn’t prevented them from sticking around for years and years. Probably because the tacos are good and they’re open for gorging even after the bars close. But that’s just a hunch.
Taqueria Vallarta: 3033 24th St. between Balmy and Treat.

A positive piece of gentrification- some young hipster folks saved and resurrected this decades-old icon. They brought back all the best bits (like glass jars of candy on the counter and thick homemade shakes) and updated the worst bits (like greasy blah diner food) so you can get all the nostalgia PLUS all of the tastiness. The cheddar, scallion, bacon pancakes are my favorite!
St. Francis Fountain: 2801 24th St. between Bryant and York.


This is a closeup of a taco shop sign. It totally creeps me out. Check out how the big pig is happy to be being roasted, while the little pig on the right appears to be roasting and possibly spearing his own child pig in another pot. What kinda sicko painted this thing and how did they think it would inspire me to eat carnitas?
Crazy pig painting: I don’t remember where exactly this sign is, but I think it’s roughly opposite Discolandia.


“Burbujas” (boor-BOO-huss) is inherently a funny word (meaning “bubbles) but I’ve always thought it was made additionally funny by the addition of “Mr.”
Not Señor Burbujas, not Mr. Bubbles… Mr. Burbujas. The bra and underwear jauntily painted on the window and the Florida Street murals in the background add to the scene.
Mr. Burbujas: SE corner of 24th and Florida.


Soda-themed skateboard decks in the window of Mission Skateboards, a new gritty-cool skate shop.
Mission Skateboards: 3045 24th St. between Balmy and Treat. (The sign is just a circle with an M on it.)


I don’t know if it’s the trash cans, the tagging, the metal cage, the stark stenciled letters, or what… but I think “Fountain of Life Church” is stretching it just a tad…
Iglesia Fuente de Vida: next to Discolandia

I love the word “Mexica-tessen” and the funky Brady Bunch font on the lit up sign. Somehow the font plus the palm tree always make it seem like it should be in LA. You can get killer tamales, fresh masa and homemade tortillas.
La Palma: 2884 24th St. between Florida and Bryant.


Newcomer Sugarlump is a sweet cafe with a lovely back patio and a sexy 70s fireplace. You might think Tina Fey glasses and shiny Mac laptops are required for entry, but they’ll sell you an organic fair trade cup of coffee even if you’re sans specs or carrying a (gasp!) Dell.
Sugarlump: 2862 24th St. between Bryant and Florida.


I like that you can buy a bra AND send a fax in the same place.
Manuel’s Store: Incongruously right next to Sugarlump.

If you want fancier underpants hit up Candy Kitchen which sells absolutely no candy, just fancy, pretty, pricey lingerie.
Candy Kitchen: 2807 24th St. between Bryant and York.

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