50 years after opening, La Taqueria is still getting lines down the block on Mission Street, and has both James Beard honors and “Burrito Bracket” awards to show for its five decades of greasy goodness.

Back nearly ten years ago, when ESPN bought the popular data nerd site FiveThirtyEight, one of the relaunched site’s first big features was the (very effective) clickbait contest of the March Madness-style Burrito Bracket. And the national winner was La Taqueria, the no-frills taqueria at 25th and Mission streets. Naturally, that choice was highly controversial. But there’s no arguing with a James Beard distinction, and La Taqueria won one in 2017 when it was bestowed a James Beard America’s Classics award.  

But as the name of the place would tell you, La Taqueria is more of a cult-favorite for its tacos rather than its burritos. And the Chronicle points out that La Taqueria is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In a 50-year retrospective article, they profile 80-year-old owner Miguel Jara, and the man who makes those tacos, four-decade employee Miguel Ruiz.

“He’s never missed a single day of work,” the owner Jara said of Ruiz. “Without Miguel over here, I don’t know what we’d do.”

It has not always been a smooth ride. The Chron points out how in  2018, La Taqueria was forced to pay more than $500,000 for wage violations over unpaid overtime, health care costs, and sick pay. And while owner Miguel Jara does own the building at 2889 Mission Street, he had to pay $1.7 million to keep the place later that same year in an inheritance dispute with his siblings.

That unpleasantness is all now long past. And we should acknowledge that Bon Appetit credits La Taqueria with inventing the Mission-style burrito. That too is disputed, as Taqueria La Cumbre makes this claim, as does El Faro (which is different than El Farolito). But what is not disputed is 50 years of San Francisco love for La Taqueria, as evidenced by the long lines on Mission Street during most of its business hours.

Related: La Taqueria Wins Honorary James Beard Award [SFist]

Image: Andy C. via Yelp