Neighborhoods / The Mission

The Mission

Welcome to the center of the universe

This neighborhood dates back to the founding of San Francisco, and its growth mirrors the growth of the city around it. At present, Mission Dolores is exciting, energetic and chaotic, full of forward-thinking individuals with a vested interest in their home, be they natives or arrivistes. Residents of Mission Dolores know this: they can eat out at a different restaurant every night of the week for a month and never have to repeat. They can shop at a dizzying variety of boutiques, if the mood strikes them and wrap up their day at any number of night spots. But this is not just a place to congregate at night; Mission Dolores is just as well known for the quiet, narrow lanes connecting its larger streets, tree-lined places where neighbors sit on their front steps and share the day’s news. It’s known for its historic namesake, Mission Dolores, and for adjacent Dolores Park, with its tennis courts, wide lawns and gorgeous views of the downtown skyline. There may not be something for everyone in Mission Dolores, but this colorful, teeming neighborhood comes close.

Area Map

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Commute

Commuter Buses
Thanks to its proximity to downtown and its overall vibe, Mission Dolores is a popular spot for tech workers. Accordingly, tech buses from Google, Yahoo, Apple, EBay, Facebook and Electronic Arts all have stops in or near Mission Dolores, including stops at 16th Street and Dolores, 18th and Dolores, Valencia and 20th Street and Valencia and 24th.

SFMTA Light Rail
The J MUNI Metro line runs north-south down Church Street, passing through the length of Mission Dolores on its way.

San Francisco MUNI trains both bisect and border Mission Dolores. Two east-west routes, the 22 and the 33, travel along 16th and 18th Streets, respectively, and the 14 and 49 buses head north-south on Mission Street.

Nearest CalTrail Station
3rd and King Streets

Nearest BART
16th and Mission Station

Estimated Commute Times
Financial District via auto: 15 minutes
Financial District via transit: 16 minutes
South San Francisco via auto: 20 minutes
Silicon Valley via auto: 45 minutes

Around the Block

Who Lives Here
Over the years, many demographic groups have moved through Mission Dolores and the greater Mission District. Right now it’s tech’s turn. Young, ambitious, stylish and energetic, they’ve joined the neighborhood’s Latinos and artists to ramp up the district’s lifestyle.

Constantly evolving, constantly growing
So many demographics have called Mission Dolores home over the past century-and-a-half that sometimes it’s difficult to know which way the wind is presently blowing. Settled by Europeans of Irish, Italian and German descent, the neighborhood eventually evolved to become the center for Latino culture in San Francisco. It remains that today, but during the past two decades a new group — young, dynamic, often working in the tech industry and settling in one of Mission Dolores’ plentiful new condominium and apartment complexes — has put down its stake in the district. They join Mission Dolores’ one unchanging demo, the creative class — artists, musicians and literary types — to create a neighborhood where parades and protests share equal time and hole-in-the-wall restaurants are in equal demand to sleek, must-see gastro pubs. In Mission Dolores, a walk down the street is seldom a simple walk down the street.

How They Live
This is where it’s all happening, where youth is served; Mission Dolores is the center of nightlife in San Francisco, of activism and art, a side dish accompanying a main course of Taqueria Can-Cun burritos.

The cutting edge of urban life
If you don’t live in Mission Dolores, you go to Mission Dolores. You go there for dinner, for drinks, to see music, visit a gallery, or maybe you go there just to lie in the sun with the crowds at Mission Dolores Park. If you live in Mission Dolores, all of this becomes your everyday life. You ride your bicycle to work, part of the army of cyclists dodging cars on Valencia Street. You walk out of your flat after work on Friday and have your pick of the best taquerias in the city, can choose from many live music spots, ice cream at the Bi-Rite Creamery, or maybe you just want to grab a quiet dessert at Dandelion Chocolate. The sheer volume of options may be overwhelming, but Mission Dolores locals welcome that happy dilemma. Their homes are quiet refuges to call upon when exhausted by the bright, beautiful world outside, and there’s so much bright, beautiful world outside.

Housing Market
Mission Dolores has experienced great changes in its housing market over the past decade, thanks to booming interest in the neighborhood and the introduction of several new condominium and apartment buildings.

A completely different animal
Mission Dolores has traditionally taken its place at the lower end of San Francisco real estate. With its large inventory of often unrenovated Victorian and Edwardian flats, apartments and condos, the neighborhood adjacent to the Inner Mission shared a real estate accessibility with its neighbor to the east. That has all mostly changed. Beginning in the 1990s, Mission Dolores’ inexpensive real estate became irresistible to young tech workers, young families, anyone seeking to maximize their urban living experience without breaking the bank. Soon, the district’s popularity led to multiple new construction projects, each snapped up by buyers seemingly more quickly than the last. Today, Mission Dolores is positioned slightly above the citywide norm, with a median home value of just under $1.3 million. After a period of sustained frenzy, though, Mission Dolores real estate seems to be cooling off a big. The most recent quarter of 2015 reported a slight drop in overall values and an increase both in inventory and properties’ days spent on the market before going into contract.

What To Expect
Expect 24-hour-a-day action and a colorful parade of humanity on Valencia Street, sunny skies and a side streets full of Victorian and Edwardian buildings for retreat.

This is your space at the table
What draws people to Mission Dolores? Why has it enjoyed such sustained popularity for the past two decades? Is it because the neighborhood has so many shopping, dining and nightlife options? Because its population is diverse, engaged and active? Maybe it’s simply because the fog that envelops the western half of San Francisco seldom makes it over the hills into Mission Dolores. All of these are elements you can expect from the neighborhood tapped by several websites (including Forbes and Thrillist) as one of the nation’s “coolest” and “hippest.” In Mission Dolores you can expect crowds on Valencia Street and Mission Dolores Park, arguments over which taqueria makes the best burritos, a new restaurant that wasn’t there last week and businesses featuring different takes on familiar items, like chocolate or cheese. You can expect a remodeling job on your new flat if you want one or a Victorian restored past its original condition if you want one of those, too. Expect Mariachi bands at Puerto Allegre and all kinds of bands at Amnesia. Expect to take Dolores or Church if you need to get somewhere quickly, Valencia if you want to watch the human scenery, and Guerrero if you want a mixture of the two. Expect to forget how historically awesome Mission Dolores is until you get inside, and how quiet it actually gets one streets like Linda and Albion.

What Not To Expect
Don’t expect peaceful suburbia anywhere in Mission Dolores, though Dolores Park can be quite pastoral. This is a hyper-urban neighborhood, with all of the ups and downs of one.

Suburbanites, beware
Clearly, Mission Dolores is a super-urban place, so don’t expect to come there and find the things you might find in less central, less popular, less trendy places. Don’t expect to easily find a parking spot, for example. Take BART or MUNI. Don’t expect to find a house with a big backyard for your dog. Dolores Park can fit that bill quite nicely. Don’t expect empty streets — or empty restaurants — and don’t expect the crowds filing out of The Chapel after a late night show to stay quiet. Don’t expect to find the edgy Mission Dolores of 1980, which flats renting for $200 (that was the upside), but the tradeoff is that the “new” Mission Dolores is safer and has a more lively dining and shopping scene. Don’t expect to be the only person in the neighborhood who rides a Ducati, don’t expect to be lacking for ideas when you decide, one night, that you want to go see a play and, on sunny weekend mornings, as you sit on the cool grass in the park and gaze upon downtown, don’t expect to want to live anywhere else in the world.

PERFECT FOR
Active, ambitious people of all kinds, tech workers who’ll appreciate the convenience of a downtown and/or tech bus commute, young families, dog-lovers, pedestrians, shoppers, foodies of all kinds, music fans, theater fans, art-lovers, sun-worshippers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, old-time neighborhood fixtures.

NOT PERFECT FOR
Mission Dolores’ overall gestalt makes it a tough fit for people who don’t like crowds, both on foot and behind the wheel. Those looking for a more suburban experience, with detached homes, big backyards, easy street parking and quiet streets at night, will find this a difficult fit.

You’ll Fall In Love With
Knowing you’re where it’s all happening, where life goes on all day, every day, and the newest, hottest whatever is sure to be located just down the street.

Almost everyone you meet on the street in Mission Dolores is madly in love with their neighborhood. If you’re like them, you’ll find it easy to find things to love, starting with the unshakable knowledge that nowhere else will have the energy and the style of your new chosen home. You’ll love the night spots and the restaurants, the unique boutiques and the fact that there are multiple bicycle shops on Valencia Street. You’ll love brunches at the Mission Beach Cafe and the ladies making pupusas in sidewalk carts outside of Pancho Villa. You’ll love shopping for antique furniture and sunny days in Dolores Park, where you’ll bask in the unbeatable downtown view. You’ll love short walks to BART and MUNI, City Streets Sundays, when they close Valencia Street to cars and open it to everything else and live bands at The Chapel You’ll love how close you are to downtown and SOMA, and the Castro and just about everything else. You’ll love the activity but you’ll also love quiet, narrow streets like Linda and Albion. You’ll love wondering what’s going in the newly-empty storefront, knowing you won’t have to speculate for long, you’ll love parking your car on Friday and forgetting about it until Monday, or parking it in someone else’s driveway and walking away forever. Most of all, you’ll love the feeling of excitement that fills the air every time you leave your house, flat or apartment and simply walk outside.

Places to go

Mission Beach Cafe
Mission Beach Cafe
198 Guerrero Street

A bakery, a restaurant and a wine bar, best known for its brunches but serving locally-sourced goods for brunch, lunch and dinner.

Lolo
Lolo
974 Valencia Street

Jaliscan-Californian inspired cuisine, which means “non-traditional and uniquely inspired Mexican food, utilizing local ingredients.”

Mission Cheese
Mission Cheese
736 Valencia

The name says it all: cheese, cheese and more cheese, plus housemate charcuterie, wine, sandwiches and more cheese.

Farina
Farina
3560 18th Street

A stylish trattoria whose mission statement can be summed up in three words: geography, season and tradition.”

Monk’s Kettle
Monk’s Kettle
3141 16th Street

An “upscale neighborhood tavern that offers a broad and balanced craft beer selection and sets the standard in pairing beer with food.”

Hawkerfare
Hawkerfare
680 Valencia

This very popular Thai Isaac spot emphasizes fun, inviting diners to “jam some fun tunes and be loud while sharing plates of food and eating with (their) hands.”

Locanda
Locanda
557 Valencia

A very fashion-forward osteria and bar that specializes in “Roman food” and has a world-class wine list.

Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist
199 Valencia Street

It is legendary, it is foreboding, there must be something in the water. San Francisco’s ultimate drinking patio has traded in its biker boots for a bicycle helmet.

The Chapel
The Chapel
777 Valencia

It was an actual chapel, then a school, and now a live music space, bar and restaurant with 40-foot ceilings.

Elbo Room
Elbo Room
647 Valencia

A clever name and two stories of interior space for this longtime Valencia favorite; drinks downstairs, live music or DJ music up.

Amnesia
Amnesia
853 Valencia

What sets this Valencia Street spot apart from its neighbors is its habit of booking all manner of live music acts.

Elixer
Elixer
3200 16th Street

One of the oldest saloons in San Francisco is still going strong. Its latest incarnation is that of a corner bar turned organic cocktail hot spot.

Double Dutch
Double Dutch
3192 16th Street

An honest-to-goodness DJ dance club sharing 16th Street with an array of corner bars. Check the calendar for your favorite brand of dance music.

Tartine Bakery
Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street

Whether its breakfast, pastries, coffee or a hand-pressed sandwich, you can bet you’ll be standing in line. That’s how popular Tartine is.

Bi-Rite Creamery
Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street

Organic ice cream, soft serve and pastries are the rule here, as are unusual (and unusually delicious) flavors.

Dandelion Chocolate
Dandelion Chocolate
740 Valencia Street

At the forefront of the newest trends in desserts, Dandelion delivers small-batch chocolate in all shapes, sizes and forms.

Taylor Stitch
Taylor Stitch
383 Valencia

“Overbuilt clothes for every occasion.” Taylor Stitch earns raves for its small-run, sturdy and stylish clothing.

Self Edge
Self Edge
714 Valencia Street

“The most extensive destination for the world's finest men's denim, shirts and leather accessories, all with a distinct aesthetic and details that are second to none.”

Aggregate Supply
Aggregate Supply
806 Valencia

A boutique specializing in “industrial chic” clothing, housewares, backpacks and blankets.

Mission Bicycle
Mission Bicycle
766 Valencia

“Formed in 2008 with a simple premise: to build the most beautiful, practical and customizable bikes on the market.”

Monument
Monument
572 Valencia

“Juxtaposing Hollywood Regency with Midcentury Modern, Monument injects glam into the Eames' clean-lined world.”

Paxton Gate
Paxton Gate
824 Valencia

“We are fascinated by the natural world. Discover our curiously mind-expanding treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and natural sciences.”

Mission Dolores Park
Mission Dolores Park
Dolores Street

A non-stop festival, with a playground, tennis courts, and most importantly, huge swaths of green grass with views of downtown.

Valencia Cyclery
Valencia Cyclery
1077 Valencia Street

Mission Dolores teems with bicycle-related shops. Valencia Cyclery is the original.

Mission Pool and Playground
Mission Pool and Playground
1 Linda Street

The only city-operated outdoor pool in San Francisco, plus a lively playground, soccer field, tennis courts and basketball court.

24-Hour Fitness
24-Hour Fitness
2145 Market Street

The Market Street site of the ubiquitous 24-Hour Fitness chain has multiple floors of equipment, classes and personal trainers.

Live Fit Gym
Live Fit Gym
675 Valencia Street

Big chain fitness centers got you down? Live Fit Gym is a four-location San Francisco outfit that includes all elements of wellness, even facials.

Glama-Rama Salon
Glama-Rama Salon
304 Valencia Street

Glama-Rama adds a twist to the full-service salon paradigm. In addition to cuts, styles, colors and blowouts, it’s an art gallery.

Fellow Barber
Fellow Barber
696 Valencia

Classic mens’ haircuts, straight razor shaves and a classic barber shop atmosphere that was once assumed to be a thing of the distant past.

Pitch Salon
Pitch Salon
3386 18th Street

“Come by, have a glass of wine, relax, and chat with any one of our great number of stylists about your future style.”

Mission Dolores
Mission Dolores
3321 16th Street

Dive into San Francisco history and soothe your soul at the same time by visiting the oldest intact mission in California.

826 Valencia
826 Valencia Street

The brainchild of author Dave Eggers is the first of what’s now a chain of writing centers for underprivileged students ages six to 18.

Laughing Lotus Yoga Center
Laughing Lotus Yoga Center
3271 16th

Yoga and Mission Dolores go together like a cup and saucer. Laughing Lotus puts on a variety of classes and events every week.

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