What was once the San Gabriel City Hall is now one of the best Dim Sum places in Los Angeles.
This is probably my favorite restaurant in all of Los Angeles. Nothing symbolizes the…well, whatever it is we got out here more than Mission 261.
Let’s think about this, a massive, first-class Chinese Restaurant converted from the guts of the old San Gabriel City Hall (just across the San Gabriel Mission itself), itself a model of Adobe style architecture. The first time I went there, we barely got in as there were, not one, not two, but three weddings going on at the same time.
The guts of what was here don’t matter, lovely though they are. It’s about the food, the cooking, and this is where the good stuff is. There seems to be enough room for all of California in here, but watch your step, this place is popular, especially since it was closed for a year (a remodeling that went sour because of the downturn almost closed it for good). Some of us thought we’d never get in here again. I drove past the place once a month to see if it still was. Leave it to the internet to confirm its return. (All that gas money, wasted).
Dim Sum is served Shanghai Style. No floating carts, just a checklist and a well-illustrated Menu. (Please, please let the Hong Kong Coconut Puffs be on the menu when you go). You’ll be in good hands. Dinner is equally spectacular with some amazing dishes. Everything done right, with a touch of the new thrown in. There is no place like it.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Hmm. Let’s see. Here’s my list: Chinese Sausage Buns, Steamed Rice Pancakes with B.B.Q. Pork Stuffing (Best in town), Roast Pork (Macau Style. Elite does this, too), Stuffed Egg Custards (they may arrive first, but save ’em for last), Boiled Chinese Broccoli, Steamed B.B.Q. Pork Buns, and…did I mention the Hong Kong Coconut Puffs? If they’re not available, hook yourself up with the Baked Sweetened Buns, Hong Kong Style. Egg Rolls are optional.
Thinkin’ about them Chinese Sausage Buns (see below) even now.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: If you want Dim-Sum, try to arrive as close to opening as possible. Mission doesn’t seem to open exactly on time. (Get there at 10:30am on the spot, they’ll finally unlock the doors at 10:32am). If you do that, particularly on a Sunday, you’ll be leaving as the first big wave of Churchgoers are coming in.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to call ahead and ask if there are any weddings going on.
PARKING: You can’t get any easier than Mission. They have their own lot, and it’s huge. That being said, even it can fill up, but there is a lot of street parking nearby.
261 S. Mission Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 588-1666
Dim Sum: Monday-Friday: 10:30am – 3:00pm
Saturday/Sunday and Holidays: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner: Monday-Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm