The Roxie and Little Roxie: If you're in the mood for a flick, the Roxie consistently plays underground feature films and documentaries that you probably won't get to see anywhere else. 3117 16th St., near Valencia Street, (415) 863-1087.
The Lab: Visit this no-frills gallery for experimental work by emerging and established artists. Fans of graffiti artist Barry McGee, a.k.a. Twist, should drop by to see a large mural that features his evocative, hollow-eyed characters. 2948 16th St., between Mission and Capp streets, (415) 864-8855. (Web site)
The Troll Window: A first-floor apartment window on 18th Street near Valencia acts as showcase and stage for a cast of wild-haired troll dolls, which appear in monthly scenes reflecting upcoming holidays or current events in popular culture. 18th St., between Valencia and Mission streets.
Victoria Theatre: Built in 1908, this San Francisco landmark and former vaudeville house stages plays, shows films and hosts lectures and readings, mostly tending toward to avant-garde. 2961 16th St., at Capp Street, (415) 863-7576. (Web site)
Brava Theater Center: In a space that was once the York theater, which was itself once the Roosevelt, which opened in 1926 as a vaudeville house and later morphed into a second-run movie theater, Brava! for Women in the Arts puts on stage productions in what is possibly the only female-owned theater in the country. This 300-seat, 13,000-sq. ft. renovated Deco space hosts plays largely written by women and minorities, as well as holding workshops for kids and adults in most aspects of theater production, from writing to directing to acting. See Web site for calendar of programs. 2781 24th St., between York and Hampshire. 647-2822 (box office). (Web site)
Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center: The center offers weekend tours of dozens of colorful murals in the neighborhood, explaining the political and social messages behind some of the artwork. Everyone's favorite place to view murals is Balmy Alley, which features more than 30 of them and feels like another country, with its profusion of bougainvillea spilling over garden fences. Balmy runs from 24th Street to 25th Street, between Treat and Harrison streets. Aspiring muralists can purchase art supplies from the Visitors Center or find out how to participate in mural-painting projects. 2981 24th St., at Harrison Street, (415) 285-2287. (Web site)
Galeria de La Raza: This established Latino art gallery, founded in 1970, features dynamic and sometimes controversial exhibits. 2857 24th St., near Bryant Street, (415) 826-8009. (Web site)
The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts: This center also has a gallery, and on many nights you can catch a play or a Latin American movie or take salsa lessons. 2868 Mission St., at 25th Street, (415) 821-1155. (Web site)
Carnavals/Parades: Three times a year, the Mission hosts Carnaval-style parades, which begin at 24th and Bryant streets and proceed along 24th Street and up Mission Street. Also keep an eye out for the annual Dia de los Muertos procession, a candlelit nighttime event of otherworldly beauty. For more information, call the Mission Economic Cultural Association at (415) 826-1401. (SF Carnaval Web site)
St. Peter's Catholic Church: This Roman Catholic church is a lesser-known San Francisco landmark, built out of redwood in 1886 for a parish then composed primarily of Irish immigrants. Though a 1997 fire (started by a votive candle) all but destroyed the building and its interior artwork, it has since been restored to pristine condition. Admire the Gothic trompe l'oeil painting inside, then walk around the corner to Florida Street to check out the murals on the adjoining church buildings. The church entrance is on Alabama Street, near 24th Street. (415) 282-1652. (Web site)
Andalu: The sky and cloud mural on the ceiling at Andalu invites a hip and youthful crowd for eccentric tapas. Crowd faves are Coca-Cola braised ribs, baby beet, blood orange and arugula salad, and Castillian hot chocolate and donut hole for dessert. Portions are small, even by tapas standards, and prices add up quickly, but the quirky combinations and careful preparation make it a nice treat. 3198 16th St. at Guerrero. (415) 621-2211. (Chronicle review/Web site)
Al Hamra: An unpretentious tandoori restaurant, where the meat is halal, or certified to fit Muslim dietary law. You order at a counter that wraps around two tandoor ovens. And then the amazing food arrives: naan with two squeeze bottles of house-made chutneys -- fiery mint and a fruity, true-to-flavor tamarind -- plus tandoori, curries and vegetarian specials. Al Hamra does a ripping takeout business, but manages to create dishes that taste of care and subtlety. (Read full Chronicle write-up) 3083 16th St. (near Mission), (415) 621-3935.
Arinell Pizza: Cheap NY-style pizza with an ultrathin, crispy crust. Completely no-frills space and a punk rock attitude. 509 Valencia St. at 16th, (415) 255-1303.
Bar Tartine: This second location of the popular Guerrero Street bakery combines Tartine's Californian-Mediterranean style menu with a wine bar. Dark wood floors and tables, accented by creamy walls and a long bar overlooking the open kitchen. Dinner is served Tuesday-Sunday, with lunch coming soon. (-SF Chronicle) 561 Valencia St. (near 16th Street), (415) 487-1600. (Web site)
El Toro Taqueria: El Toro (part of the Pancho Villa family) is a little pricey, but overall a nice, sunny corner taqueria. They slice (rather than dice) their tomatoes, the tortillas are a little thin, they lack the refried black bean appeal of their sister taqueria, and it's typically crowded enough that you may be holding your mojado burrito a minute or two. But the nachos and agua fresca are a safe bet, and the fresh salsa bar make it worth the wait. Oddities include beef with nopales (cactus). 598 Valencia St. at 17th. (415) 431-3351.
Limon: Peruvian-inspired cuisine, such as ceviches and lomo saltado, with California ingredients. Chef Martin Castillo and his family have collectively have worked at Aqua, Rubicon, Mecca, Sol y Luna and ThirstyBear. This new space, with high ceilings and long bar, has a spacious feel, and it's also retained the lively lime green and tangerine color scheme of the old (17th and Valencia) location. 524 Valencia St. (between 16th and 17th streets), (415) 252-0918. (Chronicle review / Web site)
Little Star Pizza: Be it deep-dish or thin crust you seek, this pizzaria will steal your heart—and stomach. Try the thin-crust White Pie, delivered to the table bubbling hot, with a shatteringly crisp crust blanketed with a smidge of tomato sauce and topped with feta, mozzarella, tomatoes and zucchini. 400 Valencia St., at 15th St., (415) 551-7827. (Chronicle review)
Maverick American Eatery & Wine Bar: The food is American with coast-to-coast inspiration -- think dishes like Baltimore crab fluffs to pan-roasted wild Columbia River sturgeon -- while the wine list encompasses the world. The cozy space has tall wood-framed windows that brighten the dark chocolate brown and warm pumpkin-colored walls and oak floor. Down-home desserts include peach crisp a la mode and a root beer float. (-SF Chronicle/SF Gate) 3316 17th St. (between Mission and Valencia), (415) 863-3061. (Chronicle review / Web site)
Panchitas #2: This is a friendly place for Salvadoran food (including pupusas -- basically, corn pancakes with cheese) and delicious tropical fruit juices. 3091 16th St. (415) 431-4232.
Pakwan: This Tandoor-loin favorite's Mission outpost has the same good, spicy Pakistani food and the same no-frills, order-at-the-counter, get-your-own-silverware service, but definitely has Mission crowds. Try the eggplant bengan bharta Pakwan style, the chicken makhani or the lamb achar gosht. 3182 16th St. (near Guerrero); (415) 255-2440. (Chronicle review)
Picaro: This place is always hoppin' and dishes up good tapas and a potent sangria. 3120 16th St., near Valencia St., (415) 431-4089.
Pork Store Cafe Valencia: Famous for their location in the Haight, the Pork Store opened up shop in former Bitteroot location. Outdoor seating, plenty of greasy breakfast items, and a full bar help the hungover hipster crowd. Menu highlights include vegetarian chorizo, potato pancakes, mimosas and Bloody Marys (who could ask for better hangover medicine?). 3122 16th St., between Guerrero and Valencia streets. (415) 626-5523.
Puerto Alegre: Secondary perhaps to individual taqueria preferences in SF is a person's sit-down Mexican favorite. Puerto Alegre is at the top of its game, offering some of the best margaritas, chile rellenos, mojado burritos, quesadillas, and chips and salsa in town. Expect a lengthy wait most evenings, especially Friday and Saturday, which can be eased with a drink at a couple of nearby bars. Atmosphere is loud and crazy, as it should be, with occasional visits from neighborhood Mariachi bands. 546 Valencia St., between 16th and 17th streets. (415) 255-8201.
Regalito Rosticeria: This colorful, Mexico City–style cafe serves regional Mexican with an eco-friendly ingredient twist: free-range chicken and Nieman Ranch beef. Standouts include the chile verde and pollo con mole negro, happily paired with a kicky agave margarita. 3481 18th St., at Valencia St., (415) 503-0650. Closed Mondays. (Chronicle review | Website )
The Sunflower: Tasty, hearty Vietnamese food at low prices. The setting is simple but comfortable, and the staff is friendly. 3111 16th St. (additional entrance at 506 Valencia St.), (415) 626-5022.
Tokyo Go-Go: Excellent seasonal sushi and small plates, including signature tuna tartare, Kobe beef tataki and seasonal specials. Fun and offbeat decor. For happy hour, the restaurant offers $3 hand rolls to munch with cocktails. (-SF Chronicle/SF Gate) 3174 16th St., (415) 864-2288. (Chronicle review)
Truly Mediterranean: Some of the best falafel in the Bay Area can be found at Truly Mediterranean. Most sandwiches are wrapped in big pieces of thin flatbread, stuffed with shawarma or falafel and tahini sauce and onions. Say yes when your falafel maker asks if you want hot sauce; extra eggplant or fried potatoes (50 cents each) also are a nice touch. This is a great place for vegetarians and for night owls, as it's open until midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday. (-SF Chronicle) 3109 16th St., (415) 252-7482. (Bargain Bites 2004)
Yamo: A tiny, counter-only Burmese restaurant. The food fuses the tastes of India and China in dishes like spiced fried rice and wok-tossed noodles with curry, both specialties. The place is family run and owned, and there can be waits as the orders pile up and two cooks hover furiously over the tiny stove, but the owner and customers seem happy to socialize. There's a good dose of spice in most of the food, so ask the staff to pop open the top of a fresh young coconut to cool your palate. 3406 18th St., (415) 553-8911.
Casa Sanchez: Head for the outdoor patio at Casa Sanchez on sunny days. This taqueria makes its own tortilla chips (it started out in 1924 as a tortilla factory) and serves good Mexican standards such as burritos and enchiladas, but it's known for its slow-roasted pork and homemade salsa. If you like the distinctive logo of the guy riding an ear of corn, order a temporary tattoo with your tamale. 2778 24th St., between Hampshire and York streets, (415) 282-2400.
Goood Frikin' Chicken: The name is catchy and so are the initials -- GFC -- posted over this new spot offering grilled and rotisserie chicken with a Middle Eastern bent. Both are swathed in a delicious garlic and zatar (a spice mix with sesame seeds) marinade. The chicken meals -- served with crusty flat bread, garlic dip, fresh green salad and a choice of crispy potatoes, hummus and other side dishes -- are a steal at $11.95, which feeds at least three people. There also are great chicken shwarma wraps and other chicken specials. (-SF Chronicle) 10 29th St. (at Mission), (415) 970-2428. (Bargain Bites 2004)
Joe's Cable Car: The huge signs outside blaring "Joe grinds his own fresh chuck daily" are just the beginning of the messages -- and strict rules -- you'll be exposed to as you enjoy excellent burgers and a root-beer freeze (like a shake). (-SF Chronicle) 4320 Mission St. (at Silver), (415) 334-6699. (Bargain Bites 2004)
La Copa Loca: Italian-born chef Mauro Pislor uses home recipes and imports all of his ingredients from Italy except for fresh fruit and purees. His signature sundaes combine fruit, purees and gelato to resemble whimsical animals, characters like Pinocchio and, in one case, "spaghetti pomodoro." Pislor makes 26 to 30 flavors a day that run the gamut from pistachio and mango to pear, green apple, and a few soy and sugar-free varieties for diabetics. They're sold in special fluted Italian plastic cups, and if you require more, the gelato is available by the kilo. (-SF Chronicle) 3150 22nd St., (415) 401-7424.
La Palma Mexicatessan: This Mexican food shop and taqueria distinguishes itself by grinding its own corn to make fresh masa for truly remarkable tortillas, which the La Palma staff shape and grill behind the counter. Take-out only. 2884 24th St., at Florida Street, (415) 647-1500.
La Santaneca De La Mission: The down-home cooking is just as good as ever at this long-standing spot. Heaping platefuls of pupusas, corn masa pockets filled with combinations of cheese, beans or pork, and dishes of curtido (pickled cabbage) are the stars. At $1.65 per pupusa, you can afford to try a few and take a few home. Hearty beef soup (sopa de res) is guaranteed to lift your spirits. The plantains, refried beans and tortillas with crema are good comfort foods. Chase it all with a glass of horchata, a cool rice drink. (-SF Chronicle) 2815 Mission St. (at 24th Street), (415) 285-2131. (Chronicle review)
La Taqueria: Everyone has a favorite burrito place, but few can match the quality of this shop that's been in business for 30 years. La Taqueria is unique in that it uses no rice in its burritos -- only beans and succulent meats. Carnitas and fruit drinks are mustorder items. (-SF Chronicle) 2889 Mission St., at 25th Street, (415) 285-7117. (Chronicle review)
Mitchell's Ice Cream: This longstanding family-owned and -operated ice-cream shop makes its product daily, offering unexpected flavors influenced by neighborhood cuisines: try corn, litchi fruit or Mexican chocolate, just as a start. 688 San Jose Ave., at 29th Street, (415) 648-2300. (Web site)
St. Francis Fountain & Candy Store: This authentic, old-fashioned soda fountain, established in 1918, was rescued from a brief closure in 2002 by new owners. The look is more or less the same (soda fountain vintage), but other changes are more fundamental. The ice cream, once made in-house, now comes from Mitchell's (see listing above), and the house-made candies have been replaced by pre-packaged novelty chocolates. But the menu, which features sandwiches, soups and salads, is moderately priced, and a yummy sundae runs just under $3. (-SF Chronicle/SF Gate) 2801 24th St., at York Street, (415) 826-4200.
Trattoria Vogalonga: An intimate little Italian restaurant serving great pizzas, nice tomato-based pastas and good desserts. Waiters subtly encourage couples to linger through the night. (-SF Chronicle and SF Gate) 3234 22nd St. (near Mission Street), San Francisco; (415) 642-0298.