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La Lengua

La Lengua is the flat, southern-most section of the Mission and is often miscategorized as Bernal “Heights” or Noe “Valley”. It extends between 24th and 30th Streets, between Mission and Guerrero.

It is named for its tongue-like appearance and preponderance of Latin American and Mexican eating establishments.

The La Lengua Revolutionary Army (LaLeRa) recently expanded La Lengua’s northern border to 24th St, encompassing Pi Bar and Anthony’s Cookies.  We are considering pushing along San Jose onward to 23rd or even 22nd for angularity’s sake (and since no one else seems to be using it).

La Lengua likes to keep a low profile to avoid hipster infestation and has thus been camoflauged by the New York Times as “having little scenic appeal” despite the ridiculous number of epic places to eat and drink.

The Chronicle recently identified it as a distinct neighborhood, but sadly tried to call it “San Jose Guerrero.”  Because that rolls off the tongue (haha).

Wait, shouldn’t It Be Called SoCha?

Some provocateurs have suggested the name should be SoCha. We disagree. Mission Mission reader Lou puts our disdain of FiSyNeCo (First Syllable Neighborhood Contraction) best:

La Lengua? Love it. That’s a great name for a neighborhood sub section. Better yet, it says “No, we’re not trying to be like NYC because this is San Franfuckingcisco and we don’t need to try to do anything, asshole” (in Spanish, of course).

And then there was that whole SFGate SoCha debacle, especially comical since the new Walgreens would technically be in NoCha <sigh>.

Note that I do like SoCha the coffee shop, but that does not yield toponomynistic precedent.

Wait, isn’t it Bernal Heights?

Look up in the sky!  It’s Bernal. Yes, up. “Heights”.  There you go.

And Bernal is clearly an island. I obviously love it but let’s face it, Cortland is culturally distinct from La Lengua.

Outer Mission! Outer Mission!

I understand the logic, but sorry, no.  Outer Mission = the area along Mission between Geneva Avenue and Alemany Boulevard to Daly City. And does anyone really say Inner Mission? I mean, they changed the name to Shotwell’s for a reason, no?

Anything south of Cesar Chavez is SoCal

OK, that was pretty fucking funny.  But no.  And 24th is the semi-permeable hipster membrane, thank you very much.

118 Comments leave one →
  1. olen permalink
    February 3, 2010 6:28 pm

    I’m fascinated by the intense focus by apparent committee on my new neighborhood and the depths to which the committee has plumbed to excavate history.

  2. February 15, 2010 5:42 pm

    I thought that neighborhood was called SoCha.

    • February 15, 2010 11:37 pm

      Only if you are from NYC or have just graduated from Stanford.

    • Surely you must be joking permalink
      March 23, 2010 4:31 pm


    • J-lo permalink
      July 9, 2015 2:00 pm

      Only the owner of the building next to me calls it that! Don’t encourage him! I am proud to be a Latina and homeowner in La Lengua… let’s keep some of the flavor, gringos!

  3. Dave Dennison permalink
    March 23, 2010 12:39 pm

    Apparently the Chronicle wants to call La Lengua the San Jose Guerrero neighborhood. Doesn’t quite roll off la lengua, like La Lengua.

  4. Lauren permalink
    March 23, 2010 3:59 pm

    No way! This hood is called Pierre Valley.

  5. olen permalink
    March 23, 2010 4:06 pm

    Pierre Valley, my choad. Never. That map to which you refer, Lauren, also has Diamond Heights as being right up in our business. No dice. Viva La Lengua.

  6. Oldtimer permalink
    March 24, 2010 2:05 pm

    that area has been known as the Outer Mission for 20 years.

    Mission Terrace is the area beyond, along Mission st.

    Do you even pay attention to anything before you get there?

    • March 24, 2010 2:27 pm

      And 150 years ago it was called Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo. Talk about not paying attention.

  7. Dave Dennison permalink
    April 13, 2010 2:14 pm

    Now SFgate is calling it SoCha.

    Socha sounds like an exotic root vegetable, or the alcohol derived from its fermentation.

  8. azaskarban permalink
    April 15, 2010 11:20 am

    you live in america. speak american.

    • J-lo permalink
      July 9, 2015 2:03 pm

      Huh? America includes North & South (even Canada!) and is not a language.

  9. One of last REAL San Franciscan Mexican permalink
    April 15, 2010 4:33 pm

    What transplant hipster decided to call my hood La Lengua?

    • April 15, 2010 4:34 pm

      Me. And I bet I know SF history better than you do.

    • Mr. Gonzalez permalink
      May 30, 2014 3:30 pm

      Amigo, aqui los hipsters tratan de acaparar el vecinadario. It is not called La lengua, go back to Valencia you hipster scum.

    • J-lo permalink
      July 9, 2015 2:06 pm

      Are you implying hipsters don’t exist in Latin America? Try D.F. or Buenos Aires…

  10. GlenParker permalink
    April 16, 2010 12:23 pm

    It will always be the Outer Mission. When you hipsters have had your fill of SF and go home to New Hampshire I’m sure a new bunch of carpetbaggers will show up and want to change the name of the neighborhood.

    • April 16, 2010 12:47 pm

      Do you ever get tired of shaking your fist at the sky?

    • JimmyJack permalink
      December 21, 2010 11:38 am

      GlenParker, no. I grew up in the Outer Mission in the 70s and lived there for twenty years. There is no debate about this except among people who don’t know what they’re talking about. The Outer Mission is roughly the area between Mission and Cayuga streets from Geneva to the Daly City border.

    • December 21, 2010 12:51 pm

      Outer Mission in the house!

      From what I can tell, the southern neighborhoods are lost upon most SFians.

      This this handy map for local bloggers (by yojess) pretty much nails it.

  11. 27th&Guerrero permalink
    May 10, 2010 5:58 pm

    Perfect, especially given the easy availability of lengua tacos in the neighborhood. Death to the landlords that attempt to claim that it is “Baja Noe.”

    And death to that !@#$% parklet. Yeah, I want to sit along San Jose and inhale exhaust fumes. They seriously couldn’t have better used that money on fixing up the dangerously jagged sidewalks a couple of blocks away?

    For what it’s worth, I was born here – and I don’t think that it *should* matter. Maybe if you’re fourth generation SF or beyond.

  12. Guerrero&27th permalink
    May 10, 2010 9:53 pm

    yeah. i can’t believe that parklet got a write in the NYTimes even. while it may cut down on traffic, it sure is not by any means a ‘park’ and is certainly not pretty. I could’ve rented a few jackhammers for the weekend and really pimped that bitch out with some perennials and sod. Who wants to sneak out with me and paint over that heinous green and yellow?

    • May 10, 2010 10:42 pm

      i’d love a more substantial park, but do you have any idea how expensive it is to take out and lay down concrete?

      It’s a good start, and much better than the triangular wasteland that was there before.

  13. tizzdogg permalink
    June 7, 2010 5:51 pm

    I have seen some real estate postings calling this area “Baja Noe”, presumably to make it sound fancier. But I kind of like the name due to its shapes resemblance to Baja California.

  14. NoeValleyJim permalink
    July 24, 2010 6:05 pm

    The new real estate maps have everything south of Caesar Chavez as being in Bernal Heights. Which is so wrong, but at least the new “Bernal Heights” Post Office is now officially in Bernal Heights.

  15. December 1, 2010 9:31 pm

    I suggest that this thin little appendage be known as “The Burrito Triangle”..

    Surely some lost souls have disappeared in it, when looking for Mitchell’s Ice Cream.

    If you are looking for real culture, try the Inner Sunset, which should be called “Pill Hill Valley”, as the most comon uniform seen on sidewalkers is “blue scrubs”, with stethoscope slung over the shoulder for added “elan”. I could elaborate, but the facts militate against it..

    The one spot worth a trip here is THE GREAT OVERLAND BOOK Company, on Judah, a few feet east of 9th Ave…. best Used Book Store in the city.
    Trust me. I’m a Realtor…. We always tell the truth, if cornered.

    jack barry

  16. OsoDeOro permalink
    December 21, 2010 3:48 pm

    I live in this hood and started calling it BerNoe. I don’t like “Outer Mission” as it connotes that it is just a less important hinterland, SoCha is just a directional indicator, and while it is creative, I’m not feeling la lengua. I’m sticking with BerNoe until we find something better.

  17. Jason in Oakland permalink
    January 21, 2011 12:40 am

    I give you points for creativity and panache. If it’s Outer Mission, so be it, but I kinda like “La Lengua.” It rolls off the, uh…

  18. Tom in SFCA permalink
    February 10, 2011 11:25 am

    I first moved into the Mission in 1985. I have been in the same apartment on 21st near Valencia for over twenty years. Used to be that there was “The Mission”, “Noe Valley”, and “Bernal Heights” in these parts and nothing else. People in Bernal knew who they were. Same with the folks over in Noe Valley. The rest of us lived in the Mission. All of this “La Lengua” guff and all the rest is very recent and completely unnecessary (at best). It’s the Mission, people. Be here now.

  19. February 28, 2011 8:46 pm

    50s & 60s? Precita & Florida. Le Conte, not Flynn. It was the Mission back then; yeah, even south of Army.

    • March 1, 2011 5:06 pm

      BTW, Precita not in the Mission? Horace Mann & Mission HS, the old (& gone ) Safeway @ 24th & Potrero, movies on Mission street, swimming @ Garfield… We lived the Mission! :) Welcome to the Mission, La Lengua!

      Note: Bernal was something you saw or climbed; No cachet to Cortland!

  20. GSLOCAL permalink
    April 22, 2011 11:29 am

    i think we should ask the native san franciscans who grew up in that neighborhood what it is called…i bet you it would not be this “la lengua” bullshit or even Socha or whatever you dirty hipsters are trying to call it

  21. May 18, 2011 9:52 am

    Have you noticed that Google Maps now proudly displays “La Lengua” as a neighborhood? It’s official then. Look see

  22. missionnative permalink
    May 20, 2011 9:17 am

    you’re map sucks; you’re obviously from somewhere else; “el corazon” really, those are the borders; no REAL mission-native will actually come on to any website to defend what the reality of the ‘hood is; que pobre that we all we have are these kids searching for something to relate to but all you end up doing is raping MY culture in MY ‘hood; yes we are friendly, but to post and then publish sh*t that isn’t even researched… like my mom used to say… “que poca madre”…

  23. May 20, 2011 11:52 am

    I lived in the literal heart of La Lengua–Tiffany Ave–for a few months before a change of circumstances forced me to move up the hill into Bernal Heights proper. B-Heights is nice, cant beat the views, but I miss being a part of the Lengua Revolution. :(

  24. May 20, 2011 1:44 pm

    what would you consider the block between church and sanchez on 16th?

  25. fineasspimp permalink
    May 20, 2011 2:57 pm

    you know who makes all these bullshit neighborhoods up??

    fucking real estate agents to sell houses in “hip” new neighborhoods.


  26. Chas permalink
    June 26, 2011 11:56 pm

    I vote for Bernal Depths, but it’s use is sufficiently rare I don’t think it will catch on.

  27. August 31, 2011 2:30 am

    amazing! indeed creativity at its best

  28. sfjberk permalink
    November 10, 2011 2:06 pm

    I like to call my area “the groin of the Mission,” mainly because it pokes fun at those stoopid “heart of the Mission” designations.
    But more recently, it’s to counter those calling it “la lengua,” which is equally, if not more, ridiculous.
    At any rate, I am probably the only one who calls it that, yet people usually know what I’m talking about.
    Using “groin” it can pretty much mean anywhere in the Mission.

  29. brian permalink
    January 23, 2012 2:28 pm

    New development on Google Maps’s recognition of La Lengua: They just added boundaries to their map when you search for towns and neighborhoods. If you search “La Lengua” you can see they’ve recognized La Lengua as extending north, interestingly, to the line of the former railroad tracks extending diagonally from Guerrero to Mission.

  30. Mission Native permalink
    February 16, 2013 3:10 pm

    La Lengua? Fucking transplants and their cutesy names

    Mission High Grad, class of 93

    • February 16, 2013 3:14 pm

      Are you Ohlone?

    • Gadlen permalink
      February 16, 2013 3:59 pm

      Hey, where’s the little thumb-thing I’m supposed to click?

  31. April 4, 2013 10:52 am

    Comrade JohnnyO, Tierra Mia Coffee is coming to the neighborhood, this week got the keys the old Way Out Café space at Mission and Valencia. People have asked what part of the city we are setting up in and have I struggled with this answer, because the area is not Mission and its not Bernal Heights, and it doesn’t want to be! Its La Lengua! As a Latin coffeehouse we will help carry the La Lengua flag for all denizens of the La Lengua district, and will contribute faithfully to the efforts of all the fine Latin eateries in the area. Viva La Lengua.

    • April 6, 2013 9:24 am

      While I’m sad to see Way Out Cafe go, I’m glad to see you there. Viva Tierra Mia! Viva La Lengua!

      I guess we need to work on the flag.

    • June 25, 2013 7:26 pm

      Burrito Justice, Tierra Mia Coffee is opening next week! We are doing dry runs this Saturday and Sunday with our new baristas and will be open for any passerbys who come in and want to try some free café. Feel free to drop in this weekend and say hello. We hope we are a nice addition to La Lengua. 3188 Mission St at Valencia.

  32. February 27, 2014 9:47 am

    Maybe Hipster Valencia could be the “Valencia Beard.”

  33. Humberto Lugo permalink
    March 19, 2014 2:02 pm

    La lengua is a stupid ass name that only a non latino outsider would come up with. Sounds ridiculous in spanish. Anybody who is really from the area like myself calls it the upper mission or bernal heights and thats it.none of this bullshit ass hipster non sense

  34. Jaime permalink
    February 9, 2015 11:57 am

    i’d like to know who died and left you boss? no outside agitators. cortland is not the core of bernal it’s just another street in bernal heights as is mission street between Randall and CC. stop making claims about what doesn’t concern you. maybe bernal flats would be more appropriate.

  35. Jaime permalink
    March 20, 2015 5:13 pm

    as someone said earlier “names come and go” here’s hoping burrito justice will go just as it has already come – and take la lengua with it

  36. May 26, 2015 8:31 pm

    I know this general area as Noe Sur, kinda like Baja Noe. I like ‘La Lengua’ too, and your efforts are admirable.

    Noe Sur refers to the south end of Noe Valley that the realtors assign to Glen Park. Glen Park is the valley, not over the ridge of Fairmont, not Laidley or the Harry St. Steps; that’s clearly part of Noe Valley but yeah, you’re right the part close to Mission is different and deserves ‘the tongue’. Call it the Mitchell’s District and I’d be pleased as well. It’s also part of Noe Sur, IMO. Partly but not really the domain of Bernal. It’s kinda like Outer Mission but not quite.

    I’ve been almost 25 years in the general neighborhood and am a bit of a map nerd myself:

    map of The Haight 1989 (hasn’t changed much):
    Hand made map of the Haight, San Francisco 1989 Paul Furman, acrylic on canvas 14x16"

    San Francisco fog map (1989-2014):
    San Francisco Fog Map - first draft

    San Francisco neighborhood map 2015 (will be updated with added labels soon):
    San Francisco Neighborhoods - Realtor's MLS map (sfarmls) May 2015
    google maps version:

  37. JimmyJack permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:33 am

    No. I grew up in the Outer Mission in the 70s. It’s roughly the area between Mission and Cayuga streets from Geneva to the Daly City border. Not the Excelsior. Not “Mission Terrace” (which is a smaller subset of the Outer Mission, along San Jose Avenue near Ocean. It’s the Outer Mission. Thank you.

  38. February 16, 2013 3:53 pm

    Last week I walked into a condo for sale around the corner from my apartment on San Jose between 24th & 25th in the north Lengua. The brochure reads “Unbeatable Noe Valley location…” Hurumph. You can see the nine hundred thousand dollar listing at 286sanjose dot com. Fucking hipsters? No, fucking YuDINKs!

  39. Dotto permalink
    May 21, 2015 9:37 am

    Ahh now we may actually see where all that bubble gum fell from, Maybe now it will stop ending up on Bernal sidewalks? Maybe trash cans will be present and utilized in La Lingua! Since1946 my grandma washed down her sidewalks until she could no longer risk going outside. So much pathetic pride evaporation. Finally! The entire area was overrun only a few years ago. I love little La Lingi or whatever its called, for this means Bernal is finally back!

  40. February 16, 2013 6:29 pm

    These grapes are *so* *sour*!

  41. Dotto permalink
    May 21, 2015 9:49 am

    I love Techies too!!! Thank you all for “Perestrioka”


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