It is impossible to think of what makes San Francisco San Francisco without calling to mind our vibrant Mexican culture. La Mission, after all, is the city's most colorful neighborhood—an eclectic hodgepodge of the Mexican families that have lived there forever, and the hipster set that has brought trendy restaurants, artisanal coffee, and concerns about gentrification.
But while Mexicans make up nearly 70 percent of the Bay Area's Latino population, there is a smaller but nevertheless culturally rich number of communities here that make for a diverse Latino experience. Here, we offer a quick primer on where to get the flavor of some of the Latin American cultures with the highest prevalence in the Bay Area.
Eat: Argentinians are some of the biggest meat consumers in the world—in other words, they know their steak. So does Lolinda (2518 Mission St. (Mission), which takes a Californian-meets-Latin American approach in such one-of-a-kind dishes as yucca-ricotta croquettes. For something more homespun, the food truck Tanguito (2850 Jones St., Fisherman's Wharf) serves a traditional Milanesa steak or chicken with fries and egg.
Shop: Opened in 1972 as La Argentina, this is a true mom and pop shop: Flag Mama (flagmama.com) is the place to get your Día de los Muertos flags; Futbol Papa (futbolpapa.com) has your Lionel Messi soccer jersey. // 3250 24th St. (Mission)
Party: Learn the sultry tango, the most famous of Argentine dances, during 10 days of workshops at the San Francisco Bay Area Tango Festival, starring 2014 World Tango Champion Sebastian Acosta. // June 8-18, facebook.com.
Fun Fact: Argentina is the largest South American wine exporter and the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. Order a glass of malbec at your favorite local wine bar—try Hotel Biron, Blush, or Beso Bistronomia.