Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
Although Gabriel Maldonado left his hometown of Michoacan, Mexico in the early 1940s for new opportunities in the United States, he wasn't able to leave behind his family's century-long baking traditions. After long days of laying railroad tracks around Suisun Bay, he spent his evenings in a refurbished garage space, baking sweet pastries and breads inside an old pizza oven. The next morning, he would load the baked goods into his 1938 Cadillac and sell them to the local port and plant workers. He finally laid down firmer roots for his business in 1951, establishing La Victoria Bakery in the Mission District.
The current pastry chef, Luis Villavelazquez, recently upgraded the bakery's Mexican pastries to gourmet status by fusing Latin ingredients into famous French confections. In addition to vegan-friendly items and traditional cookies and cakes crafted from fresh eggs and milk, the 60-year-old panaderia churns out pan dulce from a family recipe passed down through generations of text messages as well as locally roasted fair-trade coffee and Argentinean empanadas.
Mas Sake performs its fusion of Japanese and Mexican cuisines from its perch in the Marina district. Within the high-energy establishment, chefs craft both traditional Japanese fare, including teriyaki dishes and sashimi, as well as sushi that twists in flavors of preserved lemon, Cajun shrimp, jalapeno, and piñata. Conversely, chefs roll hand-made tortillas around sushi-grade ahi to render Japanese-tinged tacos.
Mas Sake hosts a festive whappy hour on weekdays, when libation lovers can slake thirst on cocktails, beers, and sake bombs. The restaurant's dim lighting swathes plush booths and wooden fixtures in a large dining room fit for both intimate dinners and celebrations.
There are a lot of good Mexican joints in San Francisco–but not many that have inspired a hip-hop album. Electric-pop and hip-hop duo The Cataracs loves Gordo Taqueria so much that they named an album after it. They’re not alone in their adoration, as Gordo Taqueria has expanded to six locations in the East Bay area. After ordering at the counter, guests watch staff move at a methodical pace as they stuff chicken into burritos and scoop flavorful carnitas into taco shells. The dining area at the Berkley location stars a vibrant mural and stools with woven seats crafted from leather and fossilized tortillas.
Chefs Jose and Hilario, who both hail from Mexico, treat adventurous palettes to south-of-the-border cuisine at all hours of the day inside Olivia's Brunch & Fine Dining. They grill, sizzle, and sear in an open-air kitchen, from which aromas of signature mole poblano and pork ribs topped with tomatillo fill the eatery. Servers whisk steaming brunch platters and comfort food with Mexican twists to tables draped in white cloths; sweet breakfast treats and California-inspired omelets, fluffier than award show banter, fill out the Sunday morning menu.