Local…Mission…Eat– Sami Ryan

Posted on January 24, 2013


Most people know the Mission in San Francisco as a primarily Latino community. So, if told they were going on a culinary excursion in the Mission, they would assume they would be eating Central American food, maybe a little South American cuisine thrown in there as well. And I was just that person. I’ve been to the Mission, but the only time I really explored the area was on a field trip for a Latin Dance class I was taking. So, naturally, we explored the Latino-based restaurants and shops. This culinary tour through the Mission was wonderfully nothing like I thought it would be. An entirely homemade California eatery, a miniature cupcakery featured on Cupcake Wars, a pop-up cafe/restaurant by Food Network renowned Chef Manny, a Jewish Deli, an obscure ice cream shop, a 98% homemade sausage joint, and, well, of course, a taqueria…all this in the Mission? I never would’ve guessed!

I also wouldn’t have guessed that I would fall head over heals in love with the first place we went to.

Titled Local Mission Eatery, or LME for short, this restaurant is truly, in my opinion, doing it right. Before even entering the building, our tour guide Stephanie told us that the place was remolded using original wood from the original building. Oak and redwood were maintained and incorporated into the new edgy design. And edgy it was! The first thing I noticed when walking in was the wall of plants.

Growing in what looked to me like a hanging shoe rack were various green leafy plants. Some had petit little leaves and remained contained in their little plant bjorns while others ran wild and draped like ivy almost to the ground.

To the left of the restaurant was above mentioned wood, but utilized in a much more artistic and creative way that I had envisioned. Cut into small squares, the different shades of wood created a symmetrical quilt like look on the wall, and above the quilt were various black and white portrayals of the Mission. And I was barely 4 feet into the restaurant!

As I walked further back, I noticed a bookshelf covered with understandable items like homemade jams, pickles, hot sauces, butters, and books. Books? In a restaurant? I was surprised. Stephanie explained that they have a book exchange, bring a book, take a book, take a book, read a book, put back a book.

A very cool idea for libraries but this was the first I had seen a restaurant adopt this idea. It’s a brilliant idea for a place that wants to be homey, comfortable, and gather regulars…and it’s what they are doing for sure.

Above the bookshelves is a glass window into the walk in refrigerator. Nothing hidden, secret, or mysterious used in this kitchen no way.

Which brings me to the philosophy behind this place, a philosophy you can kind of sense from the appearances, but even more so upon researching the eatery and reading their blog. Do it!(http://www.localmissioneatery.com/blog). Instead of explaining my interpretation of their intentions with this eatery, here is a quote from their blog. And the name of the game is LOCAL.

“Local is, in every way, a product of its place,local in every sense–local farmers and local tastes, local vendors and local artisans, local community and local people.”

Damn. That is cool.

When we finally got to tasting this local, brilliantly philosophized food, we were presented with grilled cheeses. “Grill cheese?” you may say with your nose turned up at the thought of a common child’s sandwich. “Grill cheese,” I would respond with reverence. Panorama bread (from SF, but Chef Chad assured us they were working onperfecting their own recipe), homemade apple butter, and Wagon Wheel cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes makes for a trio just familiar enough to bring back happy childhood memories but unique enough to feel special, like someone did trial and error to find the most full-flavored creation.

So don’t be like I was and think the Mission is solely Latino food, you would be missing out on brilliant places like this one and so many more. Places are doing it right, go find them!