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Off Menu: The Best Places to Eat Organ Meat in the Mission

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 The Organ Trail of San Francisco, Episode 1: Stick a Tongue in your Mission Taco

We recommend against chest cavity-to-table consumption of this organ

For those interested in the consumption of fine entrails, we present to you here within The Organ Trail, a weekly collection of macabre signposts pointing towards zones of high offal-saturation scattered throughout our little slice of peninsular heaven.

They lay there, our guts, steaming with primordial, magmic heat, waiting for the slightest chance to jump out of our elastic casing like a troupe of eager, mucus-covered chorus girls from behind a scarlet curtain, brazenly kicking out their heels in a life-affirming Can Can. This tangled Rube Goldberg device is pumping away 24/7 for the sake of our bodies survival–squeaking, gurgling, farting out poisonous clouds of methane. This corporeal fact aught to bring even your average Dartmouth yacht jockey right down to earth. Instead, he denies the meat puppet absurdity of our bodies, and by the same token pushes offal to the margins, metaphorically tossing the carne ridiculum into a stinking abattoir of the subconscious.

I’m speaking mainly of your average middle class American, of course. This, however, is the Bay Area. You can fork a quivering segment of ox cock into your mouth or experience the velvety texture of cod sperm upon your lips if you know the right password. That grassy cylinder of bovine genitalia won’t be on the special board at The Lucky Penny (nothing will anymore, alas and RIP), however. Those whose taste buds haven’t been submitted to the vigorous scrubbing from the steel wool of Yankee squeamishness (or who are in the process of regrowing them) should find this series of articles edifying and useful.

San Francisco is a prodigious giver of guts (and blood, too) upon which to gorge oneself: tongue diced up and fitted into tacos; sweet breads stuffed into the cavity of a roasted game bird whose talons extend towards the heavens in ecstatic tribute; honeycomb tripe, smelling of the grasses that perfumed it while on their way out of a cow’s bunghole.

The taco stand at Taqueria Vallarta on Mission Street

Taqueria Vallarta

Low-cost offal abounds in the Mission District, morsels chewy, toothsome or tender resisting the sterile, air-conditioned condo breath of the current technocaust. For instance, Taqueria Vallarta has featured a late night taco stand (open til 2am) in the Mission District for many years now and will continue to do so, god willing. They offer tongue, brains, jowl, stomach, etc., as well as more conventional cuts such as grilled chicken and al pastor.

Menu at La Oaxaquena’s taco stand adjunct

La Oaxaquena

Another late night taco joint featuring Dark Meats is situated a scant two blocks from the 16th Street Mission Bart Station. Hosting it is La Oaxaquena, a small restaurant offering traditional food from it’s namesake region in the south of Mexico. The adjunct, sitting just inside the entrance, offers tacos and hot dogs. The meats available for taco-ifacation are spelled out with multi-colored magnetic letters haphazardly-affixed to the side of the adjacent soda dispensary.

Duc Loi Supermarket

Lest we tarry too long among the moist folds of corn tortillas, we offer Duc Loi Supermarket, on the corner of 18th and Mission Streets. It’s an Asian supermarket that has a fine Vietnamese deli ensconced in its rear. They sell delicious Vietnamese sandwiches (Bahn Mi) whose ingredients routinely include head cheese (created by slowly cooking a pig or cow head, scraping and pulling all and sundry, and then binding it all with a meat gelatin) pork pate, pickled carrot, cilantro, jalapeño and a proprietary spread whose constituent parts I never inquire upon. A crusty French baguette is the vessel for this regal sandwich par excellence and five dollars is the reasonable price for its bounty.

Skewered beef heart

Mi Lindo Peru

Staggering to the terminus of this day’s travel along the great Organ Trail, the point at which you water your horses, stretch out your sleeping bags and skin your squirrels, we find anticucho de corazon, which is to say a Peruvian specialty consisting of bite-sized pieces of beef heart on a motherfuckin’ stick. The small morsels are grilled over coals after marinating in oil, garlic, spices and vinegar. The meat is toothsome, smoky and succulent. Mi Lindo Peru has been sitting in its spot a block south of Cesar Chavez Street (an area which at some pointed acquired the fitting sobriquet La Lengua) for about twenty years, presumably offering those heavenly spikes of iron-rich meat all the while.
Unless Typhoid Fever, Exhaustion, or Cholera take you, I hope you’ll tune in for our next installment of The Organ Trail, whenever it may waft your way down a blood-misted electronic breeze.

Taqueria Vallarta
3033 24th Street &
2022 Mission Street
[Mission District]

La Oaxaquena
2128 Mission Street
[Mission District]

Duc Loi Supermarket
2200 Mission Street
[Mission District]

Mi Lindo Peru
3226 Mission Street
[Outer Mission District]


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Fatt Mink

Fatt Mink

I was born into a family of bookworms and staunch pinkos in downtown San Jose, California.
I lived in San Francisco from 2002-2016, during which time I studied music and Italian at S.F State and worked as a waiter and bartender in restaurants and bars both foul and divine; I credit my considerable experience in the industry with birthing my eternal burnin' love for food and booze, still a driving force in my life. I lived in Rome for 8 months in 2016 and then moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, where I currently write for a newspaper and play music.