Another food tour adventure? Why yes! Thank you!
Just recently I took a fantastic tour by Chris Milano’s Foodie Adventures in San Francisco’s Mission District. The Mission, Latin Food Tour was so delicious and I loved it so much that on my next trip there I just had to take the North Beach and Chinatown Tour! It is no surprise that once again Chris dazzled us with his knowledge, charm and passion for the delectable food of San Francisco.
On this tour we sampled everything from buttery, coconut buns from the Chinese Bakery to five different types of dim sum from Delicious Dim Sum – nine stops in all. Yes, nine. We most certainly got our money’s worth and a very full belly. What a delightful way to spend the day in a city that is known world wide as one of the absolute best cities for an outstanding variety of delicious cuisine. This tour was so unique and filled with hidden treasures that I could have never created it on my own. We were fortunate to take advantage of the personal relationship Chris has developed with each of these small business proprietors. When we arrived at every one of the stops, our food was piping hot and ready for us to savor and then gobble up!
The North Beach area of San Francisco is in the Northeast area of the city and adjacent to Chinatown. The area in San Francisco’s Little Italy has historically been home to a large community of Italian Americans. There is still a large representation of Italian bakeries and restaurants, however as Chris explained, the Chinese entrepreneurial community is expanding and has taken over several of the Italian eateries and small businesses.
There were about 20 in the group of “foodie adventurers” who gleefully followed Chris as he led us through a maze of streets, an assortment of cuisines and unique locations for some absolutely incredible specialty dishes.
Take a deep breath, put on your elastic waist pants (for extra room) and join us as we go on the North Beach and Chinatown Foodie Adventure! We honestly went to so many locations it was difficult to keep it all straight in our minds. Anyone can visit the vast array of beautiful sights of San Francisco like the The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, but on this tour we were smack in the middle of a community, experiencing their culture on a very personal level. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be invited to view San Francisco on the inside, talk with the locals and share in their passion of their unique heritage. We were not in the touristy areas of these diverse culinary areas of the city. We visited the family owned, small eateries where the owners work six days a week (or more) and put their heart and soul into every bite of food.
Lovely San Francisco – My view from the 34th floor of the Grand Hyatt
The Tour Begins:
Chris Milano sharing fresh foccacia from the Italian bakery
All of the ingredients to make our decadent truffles
Chef Jean Paul making our divine truffles by hand
I wanted a ladle full of chocolate!
The finished truffles, still warm, lovingly made by hand
Mmmm Dim Sum
Chris with camera-shy Annie, owner of Delicious Dim Sum
Part of our group enjoying many different kinds of Dim Sum
A delicious roll and steamed dumpling with chili sauce
The Goldengate Fortune Cookie Factory
The Goldengate Fortune Cookie factory really touched my heart. This sweet lady makes every cookie by hand on the antique cookie press. Notice the cookie press assembly: a hose sprays the batter on the piping hot press and then the machine presses down on top to bake off the cookie. She then pulls off each cookie, inserts the fortune, then bends the still-warm cookie in to the form to make the famous fortune cookie shape.
In addition to the traditional Chinese fortunes, the owner is famous for her “adult” yet tame, versions. They are very funny! See below.
The beautiful red lanterns decorating Waverly Place in Chinatown
Tin How Temple – Built in 1852
Visiting the Tin How Temple was a very new adventure for me. We were not allowed to take photos in the temple. and as we climbed three flights of narrow stairs, the smell of incense permeated the air. In 1852 the Cantonese Clan of San Francisco built the Tin How Temple which is one of the earliest Chinese temples in the city. Inside the temple there is a shrine with offerings and hundreds of small red lanterns that hang from the ceiling. Devotees pledge money to the temple in hopes of a bright and successful New Year. I have never seen anything like it and I enjoyed the colorful experience. We were allowed to take the photo below of the urn, incense and oranges.
Red Blossom Tea Company
A sampling of orange blossom Chinese tea
We were treated to a short lecture about tea from China by the owner
Chinese tea in beautiful vessels
The lovely cannisters of tea
Warm, buttery coconut rolls (my favorite)
Inside the bakery, men & women sit for hours playing Keno
The very popular Z & Y Restaurant
Chris is ready to share our vegetarian pancakes and beef rolls
Last Stop: Golden Boy Pizza, North Beach
Our final bite of the day was this delicious handmade pizza
A a parting gift – Chris’s favorite Chinese Candy
This was my second tour given by Chris Milano of Foodie Adventures. I love different types of food and the idea of eating and walking off the calories was very appealing to me. Not only do I get to experience the local culture, but I was guided safely through a very large city in areas I would never have ventured on my own.
Our eclectic group of enthusiastic eaters mingled and shared their personal stories throughout the afternoon. Some members of the group were locals, some were returning for a second time bringing a visitor with them. There were tourists from all over the nation and abroad learning and eating together!
I only took a bite or two of each dish, but I was still incredibly full. I would highly recommend taking ANY of the Foodie Adventures tours. They are so personal and authentic, which is not typically what you would expect from a tour in such a big city.
I plan to continue my quest to find delicious food in every city we visit. Have you found special out of the way places to eat while traveling?
30 thoughts on “San Francisco – A walking food tour of North Beach & Chinatown”
I thought I was the only one with “eating” pants! Loved seeing it all, but the fortune cookie lady stole my heart. Great recommendations.
Thank you Betsy! Visiting that tiny, dark factory was an experience – funny fortunes too!
Waverly Place is my favorite street in Chinatown. We always eat at Cafe Utopia there. I am so happy you got to do the tea tasting too. It’s funny, we avoided Chinatown for years, but now I go back a few times every year (also, an awesome place to buy lots of scarves!!).
Kim:I am so glad that I went on this tour because I would never have found any of these places! You and I will have to go together!
Love this! San Francisco is on our short list of places to explore and a food tour, specifically a Chinatown tour, sounds perfect. Pinning and tweeting.
If you need any suggestions for SF – I have lots! Thanks for reading and tweeting and pinning!
What a great way to get an insider’s look at the city. I’d do this in a heartbeat next time I’m in San Francisco, especially in the Chinatown area where I’m never sure what to be ordering.
Thank you Leigh! I had no idea what to order before I went on this tour!
What a fun adventure!
You asked if there were any others to suggest? Head to the Southwest to Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe School of Cooking has multiple options from demo classes, to hands on, to Farmer’s Market and restaurant walking tours. My Mom and I enjoyed a demonstration event of the “Contemporary Southwest” menu: …. You can experience this unique cuisine in depth, including the techniques of master chefs, the lore of the region and fabulous food. Grilled Salmon Fillet with Poblano-Lime Jam, Fresh Corn and Green Onion Tamale, Chipotle Black Beans, Cabbage Cilantro Slaw and Vanilla Espresso Flan. Demonstration Class – See more at: http://santafeschoolofcooking.com/…/Demon…/index.html…
Kerry: This is awesome! The food sounds delicious! I appreciate you sharing it with all of us!
Ahhhh – Dim Sum! We love eating at the family owned, small cafes and restaurants and find that they offer so much more of a “local” experience as well as seem to make us feel like we’ve hit the jackpot when we discover a gem. And San Francisco appears to be full of tasty gems!
Anita you are so right! The local experience is so authentic and charming. SF is quite a foodie “gem”.
This looks like a fabulous trip, all the food looks so wonderful. I loved the sign over the fortune cookie maker allowing photos for .50 each. Then, a photo of my new favorite..ginger candies.
Wasn’t that sign precious? It was truly an unusual experience for me.
I love food tours, and this one sounds amazing. I would be all over those coconut rolls!
Lois – those coconut rolls are amazing!
Your view and the food both have me salivating! The pizza and foccacia look irresistible. Thank you for scouting out all these delicious and fun places to eat Safe travels to you as well.
Thank you Michelle – On this tour we had several vegetarian options too!
My oldest nephew and his wife live in San Francisco so the next time my sister and I go to visit them we’ll have to see if we can go on a food tour – this looked fantastic!
Thank you Kay – I have had several people take my suggestions for food tours in SF and they loved it! I hope you go!
I know North Beach, but hadn’t heard of the Foodie Adventures Walking Tours. Thanks for the intro.
Thank you Kristin! Chris Milano does an amazing and delicious job with San Francisco on his tours.
I’m a native San Franciscan, and your photos and descriptions have me salivating. You asked about more good places to eat–check out my website that covers all of San Francisco, but here are some other good walking tours, some of which are food-related, http://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Northern-California/San-Francisco/Attractions/Tours/On-Foot/on-foot.html
Thank you for your tips Carole!
I have got to take one of these tours! Being the SF Bay Area, I’ve got no excuse not to — and I certainly love food! The handmade pizza pic is really mouth-watering, especially since it’s time for dinner. Great photos all around.
Yes Cathy you must! Thank you for your kind comments and let me know if you go!
Looks like a great trip! Will definitely add it to my list of things to do in San Francisco! Love your photos~
Thank you! It was such a fantastic day, definitely go on the tour when you are in SF!
This looks like a terrific food tour of San Francisco. We’ll have to check it out next time we’re in town.
Thanks Sue – It is fantastic!