Photo courtesy of Mission Chinese Food

GuidesSan Francisco

A Perfect Night Out In the Mission, For Every Mood


If you’re an avid diner, you might be familiar with the concept of the “bang bang,” wherein you have a meal at one restaurant, immediately followed by another meal at another spot.

But to bang bang properly, you have to be smart — it’s both an art and a science. For example, you wouldn’t do back-to-back tasting menus with wine pairings; that’s just ensuring pure pain. Instead, you’d do drinks and light snacks at Dinner 1, and save your mains for Dinner 2 — that’s the smarter move.

Because we’re experts in the field, allow us to curate a night out for you in the Mission District, wherein we’re giving you an itinerary for every mood and occasion. And since we’re not here to mess around, we’ve included options for a final nightcap, just in case you’re interested in a bang bang bang.

Photo courtesy of Bar Gemini
Photo courtesy of The Morris

For a solid mellow date night

Let’s say you’ve got a night out to celebrate with your beloved and you want to keep it relatively chill:

Start at: Bar Gemini, the dark and dimly lit sexy natural wine bar from the fine folks that brought you Gemini Bottle Co. Sit at the bar or grab a booth, order a carafe of something fun and funky to share — maybe something effervescent and light and bright to start your date night right. A trio of meats and cheeses is nice to snack on, and the cacio e pepe deviled eggs are obligatory.

Move to: Nearby Ernest, where the talented chef Brandon Rice is doing inventive, globally-inspired fare. You’ll be tempted by everything on the menu, especially the “Let The Kitchen Cook For You” option. But don’t do it — you’ll be rolling home. Instead, keep it light and stick to the raw bar: oysters, a bluefin tuna sashimi, and an uni toast will do just the trick. Pair with a slightly savory MSG martini or maybe a makrut lime fizz.

Finish at: The Morris, where the main event awaits you: the iconic smoked duck for two. This duck is brined, aged, smoked, then roasted, so the skin gets nice and crispy. A half duck will be plenty. It’s served with roasted root vegetables, but a side order of fries wouldn’t be a bad move. Pair with a bottle of syrah, which will hold up to the smokiness, and finish with some buckwheat doughnuts with whiskey crème anglaise for dessert.

Photo courtesy of Good Good Culture Club
Photo courtesy of Good Good Culture Club

For high-energy party vibes

Let’s say you’ve had a long week and you’re ready to get after it. Or maybe you have some friends in town and you want to keep the party going late into the night:

Start at: The rooftop of Good Good Culture Club. Start with a daiquiri or the lychee jelly martini. Snack on some starters, potentially the signature Lao snack plate. If you’re with a few people, sharing the crying tiger shrimp salad is worth it.

Move to: Mission Chinese Food, where you’re ordering all the spicy things: Sichuan kimchi, mapo tofu, thrice cooked bacon and rice cakes. This is the main event, so don’t be afraid to go big here. We’re fans of cooling things down with a few bottles of Einstök.

Finish at either: Loló, where you can drink your dessert, thanks to one of the best agave selections in the neighborhood. Or Trick Dog, where the Pro tip is to make a Resy for groups in the upstairs area. One of the World’s 50 Best Bars, the ambitious cocktail menu changes here often, and the menu has over 15 cocktails, so whatever you’re in the mood for, they’ve got it.

Photos courtesy of Flour + Water

For a nice celebratory night out

Whether it’s your anniversary or you’re celebrating something else special like a graduation, getting a new job, or quitting your current one, then you gotta treat yourself:

Start at: Heirloom Café, where you’re here for a nice celebratory glass (or bottle) of wine. Champagne or white burgundy is always a good move, and sommelier/owner Stephen Hallenbeck will gladly help select something for your mood and budget. Grab some cheese or maybe a bacon and onion tart. You know, keep it light.

Move to: Flour + Water, where if you listened to us and kept it light at Heirloom, you’re doing the pasta tasting menu here. There’s nothing like it. Get the wine pairing if all you got was a glass at Heirloom; otherwise, go by the glass.

Finish at: Buddy. After all this wine you’ve imbibed, a nice little low-ABV cocktail or vermouth is a nice digestif. Alternative option: Start here and simply finish at Flour + Water — the choice is yours.

Photo courtesy of Yellow Moto
Photo courtesy of Yellow Moto

For a pizza party

Perhaps you’re a pizza freak and all you care about in life is cheesey and carby goodness. Know that you’re not alone, and we’ve got just the plan for you:

Start at: Shuggie’s, where the “trash pie” is a thin and crispy grandma style. It’s almost flatbread-esque and serves as a nice light start. This maximalist climate-friendly restaurant has a mission to fight climate change by using upcycled ingredients, items that would’ve otherwise been discarded because of physical imperfections, to make deliciousness. Sunburned squash never tasted so good. Pass the porrón and make sure you say hi to Beef the bulldog; he’s a good boy.

Move to: Yellow Moto Pizzeria, where the thin and crispy pies hit hard. We love a good white pie. Theirs features mozzarella, pecorino romano, fontina, caciocavallo, garlic, and black pepper. Go for cocktails while you’re here.

Finish at: Angie’s, where they’re serving thin, wood-fired pies, with good vibes. If you’re running low on pizza space, just make sure you trust us and save room for dessert: The ice cream is homemade, changes often, and is some of the best in the city. It’s creamy, not too sweet, and comes in inventive flavors and sundae sets, like blood orange with olive oil cake crumble and roasted pistachios or parmesan ice cream with poached apples and walnut streusel.

Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based writer & cookie dough professional. Follow him on Instagram. Follow Resy, too.