The Mission on Mission Boulevard in San Diego has been a local favorite since 1997 when it was just a little coffee house; over the years, it evolved into a full-scale urban bistro that never lacks a crowd. Local San Diego restaurateurs Deborah Helm, Thomas Fitzpatrick, and Fay Nakanishi are the dynamic trio behind this breakfast and lunch spot. Their mission was straightforward, offer “simple, healthy, tasty food with a whimsical edge, and focus on artful presentation at an affordable price.” They not only accomplished their Mission with the original restaurant, but were able to surpass it by establishing two more thriving locations in North Park and SoMa East Village.
The Mission Cafe Ambiance
Located on Mission Boulevard between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach you’ll see this quaint little bistro with its signature black and gold sign. A mixture of chestnut tables with light oak chairs, and light oak tables with chestnut chairs line the restaurant floor. Local San Diego artists display original works on the walls of the restaurant. Large windows at the front allow natural light to shine through while you chat over breakfast, or enjoy some quiet moments sipping coffee and people watching. The casual, homey ambiance coupled with a unique menu is exactly why this restaurant is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. They have gained and maintained national acclaim with multiple awards and features in various publications.
The Mission Cafe Food
Fay Nakanishi is the mastermind behind The Mission’s menu; it’s a combination of classic American menu items and modern Chino-Latino cuisine. They use simple and fresh ingredients with the sole goal of promoting healthy living through their dishes. The Mission takes pride in their presentation, making each dish an artful culinary display allowing your eyes a preview of what your mouth is about to enjoy. Their fresh handmade breads are another example of their culinary depth that sets them apart from the competition. They bake each loaf fresh daily and deliver them to their three restaurants. The unique textures, flavors, and crusts give their rosemary, cinnamon, and brown breads distinction and are utilized in many of their dishes.
Patrons start their morning off right with scrumptious pancakes; among the favorites are the traditional “naked” or banana blackberry pancakes. Try one of the soy dishes like the Papas Con Chorizo, or choose the classic Mission Rosemary made with crispy rosemary potatoes, scrambled local farm fresh eggs, and sautéed tomato, garnished with scallions. Don’t forget about the Chino-Latino options like the Papas Loco – rosemary potatoes, grilled jalapenos, black beans, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and two eggs. Lunchtime at The Mission doesn’t disappoint either; order the Chicken Pesto Quesadilla, Baja Shrimp Wrap, the Indo Chine Happiness Bowl, or one of many other delicious options. Don’t forget to pair your meal with either a delicious coffee item like the Hammerhead, or a Mission favorite smoothie, like the Non-Fat Blackberry Banana.
The Mission Cafe Details
Due to the location of The Mission, finding parking can be somewhat of a pain. Only street parking is available on this crowded street, so grabbing a cab may be a better option. If you don’t mind a slight walk in the sunshine there is a parking lot on Santa Clara Boulevard (left off Mission Boulevard) that you can use. The Santa Clara Point Recreation Center and Mission Bay Aquatic Center share the parking lot if you need a reference point.
The Mission is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the Chino Latino lunch menu items are only served Monday thru Friday after 11:30 a.m. You cannot make reservations at The Mission; this is a first come first serve establishment; wait times can be lengthy on the weekends as the line stretches out the door. Many of their menu items are gluten free, or can be prepared gluten free for those who are intolerant of gluten. The Mission is also a green establishment and supports farming families.
The Mission Cafe Neighborhood
When it comes to neighborhoods the location of The Mission couldn’t be better; it’s right in the middle of the two most popular beaches in San Diego, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. If you head towards Pacific Beach, you’ll find many cute shops and fun bars on Garnet and Grand Avenues. You can also walk along the Crystal Pier, rent bikes, take surf lessons, or just enjoy laying out on the beach. If you head to Mission Beach you’ll see iconic Belmont Park, where you must ride the rollercoaster at least once. There is also the wildly popular Wave House, a bar and restaurant right on the beach with two simulated wave machines. The boardwalk runs along both beaches, so you can easily hit them both if you don’t mind walking a few miles. Mission Bay is on the same side of Mission Boulevard as The Mission restaurant. You can rent jet skis, boats, paddleboards, and other fun outdoor equipment to use in the bay. There is no shortage of things to do in this area after breakfast or lunch at The Mission.