Call it what you will, but the South Mission/La Lengua/Bernal Heights is all kinds of hot right now.
And there's no better neighborhood guide than Tim Archuleta of ICHI Sushi + NI Bar, one of our favorite spots in town. He's lived there since 2005, but lately, Archuleta has been keeping busy with a packed house, transforming the original ICHI space into an oyster bar and frequenting neighborhood favorites—when his wife and business partner Erin isn't cooking, that is.
"She's an amazing cook!" Archuleta tells us. "On one of our first dates she made me bacon-wrapped meatloaf with hard-boiled eggs running through it. I knew it was love at first bite."
Here are some of his other local loves.
Breakfast: Cafe Seventy8 and The Front Porch
Why he loves them: "Breakfast is usually at Cafe Seventy8. I get egg, ham and cheese on a wheat bagel ($4). For brunch in the 'hood, you'll find Erin and me at The Front Porch. Chef Matt [Marcus] has done an awesome job revamping the menu. I usually go for the crab cake Benedict ($18). He has a bomb hollandaise sauce."
Lunch: Jasmine Tea House
Why he loves it: "Jasmine Tea House's mapo tofu lunch special with pork ($6.50) is inexpensive and tasty."
Dinner: The Blue Plate
Why he loves it: "We've been eating there for years. Erin and I have lived near the old ICHI location in Bernal (which we are turning into a oyster bar very soon) since 2005. We have dined at The Blue Plate maybe a million times since. Sean Thomas, the chef de cuisine, has done amazing things with the menu. He has kept the classics, which is a perfect balance between comfort and sophistication. That man can cook. Blue Plate has been around for 15 years, which says a lot in SF."
Late Night Bite: El Gran Taco Loco
Why he loves it: "That's usually where I hit if Erin hasn't already made something for dinner. They have great al pastor tacos ($2 to $3). I also get the quesadilla maíz ($1 to $2.50) with shrimp there."
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Quick Snack: El Tonayense and Cafe St. Jorge
Why he loves them: "Two pollo asado tacos ($2 each) from El Tonayense are the perfect amount. They make them on the smaller side, which I love. The sweets at Cafe St. Jorge are always good, too, especially mid-afternoon."
Drinks: Rock Bar and Virgil's Sea Room
Why he loves them: "At Rock Bar, I go for the Dealer's Choice: a Schlitz, maybe a shot of tequila; most likely a Michter's Rye on the rocks (but definitely the Schlitz). Virgil's Sea Room has an amazing back deck and a really awesome staff."
Date Night: La Nebbia and La Ciccia
Why he loves them: "La Nebbia for a casual date; the charcuterie ($14 to $42) and lasagna ($15) are so good. La Ciccia is for a more special occasion. Either way, you can't go wrong. Lorella [Degan] and and chef Massimiliano have an amazing wine list; we always just let them pick our pairing and put it in their hands."
Night Off: PizzaHacker (at home!)
Why he loves it: "A night off means home with take-out from PizzaHacker on the couch with our dog, Thea Bear, and our cat, Jonas. Jeff [Krupman] really knows what he's doing; his crust is amazing. We love the Yo Vinny! ($16)."
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