Local Businesses to Support Around ICA!
By Gabriela Tzaj Lopez '24
Are you tired of eating the same foods? Need a new favorite café or restaurant? Calling all food critics! San Francisco is known for its restaurants and diversity of foods. Whether it is a cafés or fancy restaurants, you can find it all in San Francisco.
However, I have three recommendations, two of which are my favoritest plus one that I recently found out about! The first restaurant is home to the best Paellas in the city, in my opinion. And the second one is a café for which I have a special place in my heart for. My new discovery is also a café, but with a twist! All of these places, although slightly different, have similar qualities of warmth and welcome.
Facebook: Picaro Tapas Restaurant
El Pícaro is a family-owned Spanish restaurant located on 16th and Valencia. They have been around since 1982. They specialize in tapas, paellas, and sangria (for adults)! Tapas are Spanish varieties of appetizers or snacks. They can be either cold or hot. El Picaro sells 23 different varieties of Tapas, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The vegetarian tapas include salads, seasoned vegetables, and patatas bravas (which are super super delicious potatoes). Some of their non-vegetarian tapas include fried calamari and chorizo. There are many more but these are the ones I have tried and definitely recommend!
El Picaro is also known for their paellas which are a main dish. They have serving sizes for up to six people, so definitely don't eat this by yourself! They also have six varieties of Paellas! If you don’t know what a paella is, it is a Spanish dish consisting of rice, saffron, chicken or seafood (or both!) in a large pan! If you do go, I totally recommend getting a Paella de Marisco or Paella de Carne! This is one of my favorite restaurants for a night out with family or with friends. And the best part, it is family owned and is the only one in the city. It really is a lively Spanish restaurant!
Yelp: Mission Blue
Mission Blue is a neighborhood café and gift shop which focuses on items made by local artists. You can sip while you shop! They are located in the Visitacion Valley. The reason for the name of the café is that when walking through Visitacion Valley, it is common to encounter a blue butterfly. This is because they are native to the valley. Mission Blue has a variety of coffee, cold drinks, and pastries at very affordable prices! Some favorites include a Lavender Latte (hot or cold) and a Matcha Latte with Vanilla. They have a large variety of locally made Pastries which include oatmeal cookies, blueberry muffins, and banana bread! The crazy part is that these are under $3 each! You can stop for a coffee and muffin, visit the gift shop, and then take a couple steps and you’ll walk right into the Greenway! The Visitacion Valley Greenway is a series of six continuous parks running through the neighborhood! This is a great place to chill and enjoy a snack!
CAT TOWN (Oakland)!
Yelp: Cat Town
About 3.2 million cats are euthanized each year in shelters and your help/donation can help! When you buy a ticket to Cat Town Café, it not only helps the cats there, but also any cats in danger of euthanasia. As you may already be able to guess by the name, it is a café where cats roam around and can interact with you. This specific café was the first Cat Café to permanently open in the U.S and the fact that it's only 30 minutes away from ICA is pretty cool!
They have volunteering opportunities such as photography, transportation, and customer service! If you’re not looking for volunteering opportunities, you can just take a look at the many wonderful things they have in this Café! For only $10 you can be accompanied by fuzzy friends for 50 minutes! You can play with them, offer them treats, and if you want, you can adopt one of these furry friends! hey also have a delicious section called the “RAWR COFFEE BAR''. They offer vegan treats and coffee which are made in the shop! This is a nice place to hangout on a Friday with friends and enjoy the many pleasures this café has to offer!