I think at this point you get where this is going and just how deceptively simple solo dining can be in this town. We've all heard the saying about feeling so alone in a city so full of people and San Francisco is no exception. I, however, feel one should embrace this from time to time to not only get in touch with oneself but also to have the unfettered opportunity to go out to a place, sit by yourself without conversational interruption and just watch the meandering masses that parade before you. This town is rife with eccentricities and odd folk and I mean that in an enjoyable, let's embrace our crazy cousins and show them off kind of way. (Much like they do in the South) And what better place to peruse, ogle and be amazed by folks around than a taqueria.
This city is rife with them, almost as many taquerias in this town as you will find coffee shops. And best of all they are open late and most always the clientele are individuals grabbing a quick bite after work, before going out or whatever, thus making them the perfect spot to get your ass out to and eat. Now while there are ones in every neighborhood, if you really want to blend into the tile work and just observe a character or two I highly recommend hitting the ones in the Mission--a part of town where every walk of life makes their way through at all parts of the day. Which is why I recommend ditching the usual look at your phone, read a book, the paper or whatever while eating at one of these establishments, otherwise you will probably miss what makes SF and in particular the Mission a great cross-section of regular and not so regular folk. Think of it as dinner theater San Francisco style and sometimes the later in the evening it is the better the show.
Whether it's the screaming family of 6 kids and 4 adults, the homeless guy trying to scratch his tattoo off, the hipsters trying the beef tongue taco because it's exotic, the drunk techies on a taco crawl after work (or the pretty much drunk anyone) or the bemused tourist that took a chance on a cab ride and thinks they are living on the edge while secretly trying to photograph the homeless guy without him talking to them. They all offer a slice of life to observe, study and contemplate on. It is this people watching that will pretty much carry you through while you chow down on your burrito and chips and salsa. Plus the food is pretty authentic and tasty and CHEAP--a real bonus. I mean you can get
big chicken tacos CHURROS!!
AND ALL YOU CAN EAT SALSA BARS!!!
Meat, cheese and veggies all wrapped up in a neat little package and ready to eat at a price you can afford. It couldn't be simpler or easier which pretty much leaves no room for dissension on this. If you are unfamiliar with Mission taquerias some of the ones I've been to and enjoyed include:
Chavas--sometimes the abuela will be there making tortillas--BY HAND!
Taqueria Cancun--a classic with tacky decorations and diverse crowd.
El Toro--one of the more cleaned up ones but still lots of flavor.
Taqueria El Farolito--kind of dive-y, kind of delicious, try the tongue here.
Poncho Villa Taqueria--gets great people cross section as it's next to 16th street BART.
La Corneta Taqueria--kind of local mini-chain, lots of bright tile, quick service and beer.
As usual, these are just a few of the MANY taquerias you will find littered throughout the Mission and truly all you really have to do is head to any corner there and go "eenie, meanie, minee, moe" and pick a place. The food will be hot, the beer will be (mostly) cold and the diners will definitely be interesting. And if for whatever reason you really can't bring yourself to hit up these places alone, I would suggest you try to wrangle up at least a handful of other single people and do a taco crawl through these places. That's one taco and one beer at each place, how many you hit is up to you or you can keep going till only one person is left standing. My main suggestion for that, so you can take advantage of public transportation is to start at a place somewhere near 24th street BART and then make your way towards 16th street BART, trust me when I tell you there are more than enough places between this stretch of Mission and Valencia streets to meet your needs. Or you could just do a solo taco crawl, you'll get some good local cuisine, marvel at some night life and who knows, you just make an eccentric friend or two along the way.