San Francisco: A walking food tour adventure

What better way to spend an afternoon than to take a walking food tour in San Francisco!

Once again Craig and I were traveling to San Francisco for business (him) and for(me – more news later). Now that I am a full fledged blogger, I need to use my time more effectively when I travel. I knew we had plans to travel to San Francisco and I wanted to include a walking food tour of some kind. I did some investigative googling and I came upon a unique tour of the Mission District that intrigued me immediately.

Introducing… Chris Milano, the engaging and delightful founder and guide of Foodie Adventures. You would think he named the company for me! No one loves a foodie adventure more than I do!

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Chris Milano & Sam King of King’s Bakery

With his exuberant personality and great big heart, Chris took us on a journey through the east side (the less trendy part) of the Mission District in San Francisco for just about 4 hours. He shared the interesting history and rich culture of the area as well as introducing us to the delicious hispanic food.

The best way to show you the incredible food we sampled and the beautiful sights we enjoyed, is to share my colorful photos with you.

First Stop of the walking food tour adventure – La Panaderia

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Some of Sam’s delicious baked goods

The Spanish Panaderia or in English, a bakery, is owned by Sam King and it is the most popular panaderia in the Mission District. Ironically, Sam is not hispanic, but Chinese. He learned to bake the most delicious bread, rolls, cakes and confections, but he is famous for the coconut rolls. They are a soft, golden, buttery pillow with a surprising bite of sugary, coconut, goodness in the middle. Divine.

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The famous coconut roll

 

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Me and “sweet” Sam (He really was so nice)

Our stop at the meat market~

We made a stop at Sal’s butcher shop, La Gallinita. I am not a meat eater, but as a cook and student of the industry, I always want to learn everything that I can. Sal shared with us his stories of the meat industry and how to break down (cut up) an animal. Yikes… This is not for our vegan readers! Nevertheless, Sal was charming and so generous with his smile and his time with all of us. He patiently answered all of our questions and offered the group two kinds of delicious beef tacos in hand made tortillas. Customers come from everywhere to just purchase the aromatic tortillas and they sell out of them every day!

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Sal sharing his butchering expertise

 

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Two types of beef tacos with tomatillo sauce, on the homemade tortillas. They are made of House made Mexican Chorizo Tacos (beef-pork blend, secret spice blend), and Cecina Tacos (seared beef steak)

Yes, I am already full, but we have a few more stops to go…

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We stopped at the very popular La Palma Mexica-tessen, that is family owned and operated by the gentleman in the cowboy hat. His name is Paco, aka”El Jefe!”

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We were introduced to the “huarache”. A flat, bean filled, tortilla, shaped like the huarache sandal. They are topped with queso fresco (fresh cheese) and tomatillo sauce. In addition to the delicious hand prepared food, La Palma is famous for their masa. Masa is the dough made from corn used to make tamales. Tamales are a traditional Christmas holiday dish and it is not uncommon to see families carry off one hundred pounds of masa at a time! No, I am not kidding! I loved the family atmosphere, generosity of spirit and outrageously delicious huaraches. I brought home a pound of them in my suitcase!

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A plate of delectable huaraches cut into pieces and arranged in a wheel shape.

 

The visually stunning – Balmy Alley

In between our food stops, we were treated to a walking tour of the beautiful, historic and inspirational Balmy Alley. Balmy Alley is home to the most concentrated collection of murals in the city of San Francisco. It is located in the south central portion of the Inner Mission District between 24th Street and Garfield Square. The murals began in the mid-eighties as an expression of artists’ outrage over human rights and political abuses in Central America. The colorful murals depict a myriad of styles and the subjects vary from human rights and local community struggles, to Michael Jackson.  I could devote a post just to Balmy Alley and this incredible art which is located on just one block of the city!

Here are just a few of my favorites…

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 This young man was part of our group and was talked into grabbing his crotch like Michael Jackson did. It was pretty funny. (He had just finished when I took the photo)

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One more stop for tacos at the awesome El Farolito!

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Al Pastor – pork shoulder, marinated in achiote, smoked guajillos, smoked jalapeños, vinegar, tomato and garlic.

 

And last but not least…Guava Bomba (bomb)

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The “bombs” were covered in powdered sugar and filled with guava jam. Super delicious!

 

After a day with Chris Milano from Foodie Adventures, I can’t wait to sign up for his other two tours: Chinatown and North Beach & Chinatown.

Additionally, I asked a few of my talented travel blogger friends to send me their posts about travel to San Francisco. Take a few minutes to visit these sites and enjoy these posts:  “Ride the Ducks San Francisco Style” and 4th Annual Weekly Dish Event – San Francisco from thismamacancook.net and “San Francisco: A Union Square Cocktail Tour” and “Eight Great Breakfast Spots Around Union Square” from Berkeley and Beyond.com

There are usually walking tours in every major city and you can likely find them in other tourist spots as well. I loved strolling through an area of San Francisco that I do not frequent, while learning about the culture, and eating the delicious food that I would never have found on my own.  I highly recommend Foodie Adventures in San Francisco for your next trip there. Make sure you book in advance, these tours are popular and rightly so!

Our group!

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Have you been on any walking food tours recently?

Suzanne

 

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35 Responses to San Francisco: A walking food tour adventure

    • Yes I did enjoy it! As you know San Francisco is a culinary dream destination! Thank you for reading and commenting Doreen!

    • Jan: I am so sorry to have somehow missed your email. I will be doing several more San Francisco posts in the next couple of weeks. I will be including your posts then! Thank you for sharing!

    • You are welcome Carole! I purchased the huaraches about three hours before flying and carried them on a one hour flight. No problem. Do you live far?

    • As a strict vegetarian, this would not be the food tour for you…however the bakery goods were incredible, as well as the murals.

    • I remember your photos of Balmy, amazing! – I had so many stories to tell about the food, I will need to write a separate post for the murals! Hope you are doing well!

    • It was such a fun way to spend an afternoon. The entire time I was thinking…I wish my family was with me. They would have loved the tour.

    • Neva: I hope you have a wonderful time in SF. It is one of my favorite cities and the food is out of this world. If you need any suggestions, let me know!

    • I loved that bakery too! I was afraid to try too many things (we tried 3) because I still had so many more things to eat!

  1. Looks like a great food tour. I would have enjoyed the food and the murals. I love walking tours. I took my first walking food tour this summer in my home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. I loved it and will look for food tours when I travel.
    Donna Janke recently posted…St. Andrew’s RectoryMy Profile

    • I remember reading about your food tour! You do get to know a city from a much more intimate level while walking through the streets and sampling.

  2. What I really liked about this posting is that San Francisco is usually known for it’s plethora of Italian or high-end restaurants. Thanks for showing me SF in a different food light. I really like reading articles that teach me something and you did.

    • Thank you Heather! I felt the same way. I am fortunate to eat at many fancier restaurants and don’t eat much neighborhood cuisine. Many of the buildings were rather dilapidated and had bars on the window. I never would have ventured in without knowing more! Thank you for reading and for your comments!

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