Words by Hannah Sheinberg
Illustrations by Clary Huang

Day by Kate Nolan 

It was late spring in San Francisco, and EF creative producer Kate Nolan was on a mission in the Mission District. Her objective: a cheesy La Taqueria burrito. But for Kate, a recent transplant to the Bay Area, the day turned out to be more than just a quest for tinfoil-wrapped treasure.

Melted cheese. Black beans. Grilled veggies. Fresh corn. Pico de gallo. Sour cream. Lettuce. That’s Kate’s standard order at La Taqueria, a Mission staple that serves up authentic Mexican food assembly line-style. “It’s like a big hug, wrapped in a corn tortilla,” says Kate.

Time to walk off that burrito brick. Luckily, “the Mission is always on and poppin’,” says Kate. She strolls up 18th Street to Mission Thrift, a portal to Halloweens past. The consignment shop is stocked with costumes, cowboy boots, trick-or-treat trinkets, and an odd array of magnifying glasses. Kate uses them to distort her face.

Normally alleys don’t warrant a second glance, but colorful Clarion Alley is one worthy of a walk-through. This narrow walkway is covered in street art that makes a statement. Kate was especially drawn to an off-the-wall art installation: multicolored shoes hanging from telephone wires. “They looked like string lights!”

Let’s set the scene: Kate waits in a line around the block for Bi-Rite Creamery, where she orders her favorite (salted caramel ice cream). She describes the flavor as the Ryan Gosling of ice creams—“it’s smooth, sleek, and trendy.” She sits down, turns to gawk at a cute dog, and SPLAT. Two scoops on the sidewalk. A Bi-Rite employee hears the commotion and runs out to hand her another ice cream. “I had such a restored faith in humanity. It was like Ryan Gosling was being handed to me.”

“If you’re not going to the Mission for a burrito, you’re going for the view from Mission Dolores Park,” says Kate. The palm tree-filled expanse offers panoramas of downtown and the bay. Look out for Michael the Coconut Guy, who hacks off the top of fresh coconuts with his machete. Voilà, fresh coconut water! (Tiny umbrella not included.)

During golden hour in the Golden City, she stops in Mission Playground: part playset, part metal contraption. As she’s swinging, she thinks about the unexpected joy of the day (aside from #icecreamgate). “It was one of those days where I felt at home in a city that I didn’t know very well.”

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