My favorite way to get to know a town is through the eyes of a local. On my recent trip to San Francisco, my cousin Wendy Rein introduced me to her neighborhood, the Mission District. The area is renowned for its Latin character and cuisine, colorful murals, and the palm trees that mark graceful Dolores Street. Most of all, the Mission is famous for its namesake house of worship, Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco (pictured here). It was built in 1776 and has survived the cityâ€™s notorious earthquakes largely intact.
The Mission is also where Wendy and her dance partner, Ryan T. Smith, founded RAWdance, their innovative and experimental dance company, in 2004. RAWdance frequently performs at the nearby James Howell Studio, and this July the company will be performing in the Jewels in the Square Series in San Franciscoâ€™s Union Square and at CounterPULSE for their Home Season (in December, RAWdance will be touring the East Coast of the US).
For brunch on Saturday, Wendy introduced me to Regalito Rosticeria, a Mexican restaurant that recently opened in the Mission. A tiny spot â€” there are just a handful of tables, plus seats at a counter where you have a great view of the kitchen â€” the restaurant is inspired by a Mexican market stall, where chefs cook right in front of their customers. The ingredients are fresh and the staff is friendly and accommodating. Much of the menu is naturally gluten free. I started with the mildly spicy guacamole, served with crisp corn tortillas. For my main dish, I tried the delicious chile relleno, in which mushrooms and cheese are stuffed into a roasted poblano chile. The menu is reasonably priced, and if you visit on a weekday between 11am and 3pm, you can take advantage of the Comida Corrida (the Workerâ€™s Lunch), which offers an entrÃ©e, dessert, plus agua fresca to drink, for $9.95.
Regalito Rosticeria [address] 3481 18th St. (at Valencia), San Francisco, CA 94110 [tel] 415-503-0650 [web] www.regalitosf.com