San Francisco: 4 new Mission District hotspots

Courtesy Afterlife
Afterlife, a new boutique in the Mission District

Even in the global recession, the Mission District is flourishing. Known for its arts and music scene, this huge neighborhood in the central city is the new home of small boutiques and restaurants that have been opening on a regular basis. Here's a selection of our favorite spots that opened their doors just this month.

Part art gallery, part boutique, Wonderland SF features only local up-and-coming designers and artists. For instance, browse MittenMaker's jewelry, made from found objects, or luxurious draped-style clothes in neutral hues by gr.ando. The store's selection is small but offers only the creme-de-la-creme of indie artists. 2929 24th Street, between Florida and Alabama Streets, 415/641-4600.

Afterlife Boutique offers a selection of vintage clothing and accessories, ranging from high-end to kitschy items like cowboy boots, reconstructed vintage dresses, ironic T-shirts, and sterling-silver earrings. Stop in for a fashion fix. 988 Valencia Street, between 21st and Liberty Streets, 415/ 796-2398.

The 48-seat Heirloom Cafe serves a small menu of organic food like orechiette pasta with sausage, rapini, and yellow eye beans ($14) and PEI mussels with roasted tomatoes, shallots, and sherry ($10.) But the real draw at this farmhouse-style eatery is the wine. In fact, Los Angeles wine importer Matt Straus opened Heirloom specifically to showcase his impressive wine cellar full of rare vintages, which will cost you $100 a bottle. But other wines start at a more-reasonable $29 a bottle; glasses go for about $8. The restaurant is open for dinner early, but lunch service is expected soon. 2500 Folsom Street, 415/821-2500.

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, Napa Valley's highly acclaimed and Michelin-recommended Venezuelan restaurant, just opened a Mission location. The famous cornbread arepas ($8) are filled with a range of ingredients such as tofu, avocado, sweet plantains, black beans, and spicy sauce, or pulled pork with tomato, avocado, and aioli. 401 Valencia Street, 415/ 400-5453.

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