La Haltun’s Walk-up Taco Window in The Mission
Cheap, delicious tacos are found at the far right window at La Haltun
The Mission District has many subsections, a few of which are less well trodden by that elusive and hard-to-define group whose omnipresence has helped to define it in contemporary minds, i.e., Hipsters. That nauseating word, like Alternative, Organic, Indie, is flexible at best and completely amorphous and meaningless at worst. But when you mention the Mission Hipster, the archetype is immediately crystallized in one’s mind: skinny jeans artfully sagged to expose a swatch of American Apparel underwear, a rakishly tilted trucker hat…you know the deal.
One of the few subsets of The Mission in which you’re less likely to find an overabundance of said denizens is roughly defined, in my estimation, by Potrero St. in the east, Folsom St. in the west, 16th St. in the north, and 23rd St. in the south. It’s a neighborhood of working-class families, many of whom I suspect were born and raised right there (based on the assumption that very few working people with kids these days move INTO San Francisco from somewhere else). Eateries found here are mostly unpretentious and inexpensive, exemplified especially by La Haltun.
Ostensibly a purveyor of Mayan cuisine, the main attraction for me is its adjunct, an auxiliary kitchen dispensing two-dollar tacos out of a window two paces from the main ingress. If you want to stick to the tried and true, like Carne Asada and Al Pastor, they’ve got it in spades. These days, though, I tend to channel my inner zombie’s lust for offal. My craving for tongue, heart, brains, jowl, stomach, or eye rarely goes unsatisfied. And, they’ve got two levels of salsa: one for skittish white folk with taste buds like quivering, newborn hatchlings; and the other, which if applied liberally, could eat through St. Peter’s Basilica and on through the pope’s miter.
These are no horseshit, Tex-Mex tacos: don’t expect dollops of sour cream, shredded lettuce and guacamole. Expect instead your selected flesh, onions, cilantro and required tier of salsa. I usually gorge on about five of these little fuckers and come away just 10 dollars poorer, girded against the sight of another ironic mustache with a pair of neon pink sunglasses.
La Haltun’s Walk-up Tacos,
2948 21st St.