Mission Taco Joint, which opened in February in the U. City Loop, is the latest from brothers Adam and Jason Tilford, who also own and operate Milagro Modern Mexican and Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen. Unlike those restaurants, Mission concentrates on simpler fare, serving up both classic and unique takes on Mexican street food with impressive results.
Mission is located in the space that used to house the supremely divey Delmar Restaurant & Lounge. Those who frequented that establishment will hardly recognize it now. Both the front and back of the house have been completely revamped. The bar features touches like a corrugated tin ‘roof’ over the seats, and the far dining room sports a colorful wall-sized mural depicting the Mission District of San Francisco.
The menu at Mission is broken down into La Mesa (shareable apps), Tacos, Burritos, and Tortas, with plenty of sides available, including that Milagro favorite, Street Corn "Off The Cob." The apps at Mission are hearty, hefty and and delicious. A pile of Carne Asada Fries ($9)--cheesy fries with tender grilled steak, guac and pico de gallo-- or a skillet of Queso Con Chorizo ($7) will definitely satisfy as entrees unto themselves.
Tacos are ordered a la carte, making it easy to mix and match, and try a bunch. We sampled the Baja Fish ($3), Roasted Duck ($3) and the Carne Asada ($4) varieties. The fish tacos featured fried fish (grilled also is an option) with some crunchy cabbage and a touch of chipotle sauce and pico de gallo. Unlike some fish tacos around town, the sauces were kept to a minimum, allowing the flavor of the actual fish to come through. The tender duck included a bit of pork belly in the mix, as well as a mild avocado serrano sauce. The sauce was carried over to the carne asada tacos, which were topped with a bit of arugula for a nice bit of contrast texturally and flavor-wise.
There's plenty of meat to be had at Mission, but one of our favorite dishes is the carne-free New Year's Resolution burrito ($8), built around locally made Mofu Tofu with black beans, quinoa and a tasty cilantro pesto, all wrapped up in a house-made whole wheat tortilla. It has so many layers of texture and flavors we guarantee you'll never miss the meat.
Be advised that the tortas at Mission, traditional meaty Mexican sandwiches, are massive and can easily feed two. We tried the Ahogada Torta ($10), an amalgam of shredded pork, black beans, cheese, onions and chipotle bacon, all set off by an ancho sauce. The sauce was nice and smoky and the pork tender, but the bun was so thick it took away from all of the goodness inside, and there was also a dearth of bacon. This disappointment was partially mitigated, however, by the crispy, salty, spicy goodness of the chile-crusted fries served on the side.
Drink-wise, Mission has plenty of beers on tap and in bottles, as well as the ubiquitous margarita, but we suggest perusing the rest of the cocktail menu for tasty and creative libations like the Piscojito ($9), a Mojito-esque concoction of pisco, lemon and mint.
The dessert offerings at Mission are limited to Churros ($4), fried fritters akin to long donuts sprinkled with sugar and with chocolate on the side for dipping. But really, what else do you need?
With such a winning combo of good food and a great space, it seems that the Tilfords have another hit on their hands.
--Mission Taco Joint, 6235 Delmar Blvd., 932-5430, missiontacostl.com.