El Farolito SC’s Soccer Triumph and Taqueria Legacy


El Farolito, a beloved taqueria chain in San Francisco, has been serving authentic Mission-style burritos since 1983. But what many may not know is that this culinary institution also has a rich soccer history, with its amateur team recently pulling off a stunning upset against a Major League Soccer affiliate in the U.S. Open Cup.

Key Points

  • El Farolito’s soccer team, founded in 1985, has become a source of pride for the Latino community in San Francisco.
  • The taqueria chain’s amateur squad defeated the Portland Timbers’ reserve team 2-1 in the 2024 U.S. Open Cup.
  • El Farolito’s soccer success is built upon the legacy of its late founder, Salvador Lopez, who prioritized passion and community.

From Burritos to Bicycle Kicks

Just two years after opening his first taqueria in the Mission District, Salvador Lopez founded the El Farolito soccer team in 1985. The club quickly became a dominant force in the San Francisco Soccer Football League, winning numerous championships over the years.

In 1993, El Farolito made history by winning the U.S. Open Cup, defeating the United German-Hungarians of Pennsylvania 5-0 in the final. This pre-Major League Soccer era saw the team, then known as C.D. Mexico, proudly representing the Latino community on a national stage.

A Family Affair

Following Salvador Lopez’s passing in 2021, his son Santiago has taken the reins of both the taqueria chain and the soccer team. Balancing the responsibilities of running 12 restaurant locations and managing the club is no easy feat, but the Lopez family remains committed to carrying on Salvador’s legacy.

Santiago’s sister, Irene Lopez, plays a crucial role in ensuring that everything runs smoothly, from securing ambulances for games to handling the day-to-day operations of the taquerias. The family’s dedication to both the restaurant business and the soccer team is a testament to their father’s vision and values.

Passion on the Pitch

For the players of El Farolito, representing the taqueria chain on the soccer field is a matter of pride and passion. Jehimy Arias, one of the team’s current standouts, recalls having to miss the club’s first U.S. Open Cup match in 2019 due to his college classes at Saint Mary’s College of California.

The sacrifices made by players like Arias highlight the importance of finding the right balance between personal lives and their commitment to the team. This passion for the game and the community they represent has been a driving force behind El Farolito’s success on the pitch.

A Cinderella Story in the Making

El Farolito’s stunning 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers in the 2024 U.S. Open Cup has once again thrust the team into the national spotlight. After falling behind 0-1 before halftime, the amateur squad rallied with two second-half goals to secure the upset.

The win is a testament to the club’s resilience and the enduring spirit instilled by its late founder. As El Farolito awaits its next opponent in the tournament, the team continues to inspire the Latino community and soccer fans across San Francisco.

A Taste of the Mission

For those visiting San Francisco, a stop at one of El Farolito’s taqueria locations is a must. The Mission District, particularly the area around the 24th Street BART station, is a hub of Mexican cuisine and culture.

In addition to El Farolito, the neighborhood boasts numerous other notable taquerias and Mexican restaurants, each offering their own take on classic dishes like burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. The vibrant street art and nearby attractions like Dolores Park and the Mission Murals make the area a perfect destination for a day of exploration.


What makes El Farolito’s burritos special?

El Farolito’s Mission-style burritos are known for their generous portions and authentic flavors. The burritos are filled with fresh, high-quality ingredients and are customizable to suit individual tastes.

How can I get to El Farolito using public transportation?

The 24th Street BART station is just a short walk from El Farolito’s original location on Mission Street. The taqueria is also accessible by several Muni bus lines, including the 14, 49, and 67.

Are there any sports bars near El Farolito to watch soccer matches?

The Mission District is home to several sports bars and pubs that regularly show soccer matches. Some popular options include The Phoenix Irish Bar, Maggie McGarry’s, and Giordano Bros.

What are some other must-try Mexican eateries in the Mission District?

In addition to El Farolito, the Mission District is home to many other excellent Mexican restaurants and taquerias. Some notable spots include La Taqueria, Taqueria Cancun, and Taqueria El Buen Sabor.

How can I make the most of my visit to the Mission District?

To fully experience the Mission District, set aside a day to explore the neighborhood’s vibrant street art, visit local attractions like Dolores Park and the Mission Murals, and indulge in the area’s diverse culinary offerings. Be sure to stop by El Farolito for a delicious burrito or taco, and keep an eye out for any upcoming soccer matches featuring the taqueria’s amateur team.


About the author

Jyssica Schwartz is a prolific author and avid explorer who is captivated by San Francisco’s vibrant dining scene, scenic hiking trails, and rich cultural heritage. She finds endless inspiration in the city’s unique blend of islands, breweries, and cultural festivals, always eager to discover new trip ideas that showcase its distinctive spirit. From tasting the best craft beers to finding hidden gems among the city’s renowned restaurants, Jyssica loves immersing herself in San Francisco’s diverse offerings.