San Francisco Mission district food tour
We are told to meet at the corner of 14th and Mission street across from the armory (A large brick building that looks like a prison and was a real armory and sporting venue built-in the early 20th century) waiting for our Mission street food tour to begin. Right on time our tour guide, Michael approaches and we wait a few more minutes to collect the last stragglers before we begin the tour. This is going to be a really fun San Francisco Mission district food tour eating our way through local purveyors, cafes and specialty food vendors in this hip area of the city.
Eating our way around the Mission district
We start by walking a whole block to our first stop at 4505 Meats on 1909 Mission street. A local butcher and meat purveyor, 4505 Meats sell a variety of fresh meat cuts, sausages and charcuterie to the public. We start off sampling some yummy hot dogs with bacon bits – they are so moist and flavorful dressed up in a bit of Dijon spread. Right afterwards, they take out some fresh made pork rinds – they just melt in your mouth after the first crunchy bite. Scary, I almost ate a whole bag to myself, they are that good!
Who wants to try the bacon studded hot dog – delish!
We are off to a great start and take a quick walk around the Mission to the trendy areas around Valencia and 16th, a hot spot of restaurants and shops attracting an uber hipster and youngish crowd. We duck into Picaro restaurant at 3129 16th Street, a popular mainstay on 16th street, offering Spanish tapas style dishes and refreshing sangria. We get to sample garlicky aioli spread, pan-fried artichokes, some spicy roasted potatoes, garlic shrimp and a vegetable/mushroom medley and wash it all down with delicious sangria. ( I’m trying hard to pace myself since we are only at our 2nd stop, but the tapas are quite tasty)
Tapas and delicious sangria at Picaro – a winning combination
Following the latin theme, we walk less than a block away to La Cumbre at 515 Valencia Street. Another local institution on the Mission and this is a traditional Mexican eatery whose claim to fame is starting the Mission street take-out burritos with the owners making larger style burritos wrappers to hold more rice and other ingredients, wrapped in aluminum foil for take out or eating on the premises. The owners take pride in sourcing food products from farms and quality distributors – and it makes a big difference to the taste. I order just one carnitas taco with fresh guacamole – OMG the meat is so tender and yummy. I eat the whole thing despite being full at this point. (Most of the group ordered burritos and ended up taking them to go after a few bites)
I’m practically rolling down the street before we hit our next stop only few blocks away, Chile Lindo at 2944 16th street. A very colorful and small hole in the wall spot with only 4 -5 outdoor stools or take-out, they only make five types of traditional Chilean empanadas ranging from chicken, beef, vegan to a rotating specialty. Even with a limited menu, the empanadas where flying out the door as fast as they can make it. We were also able to sample some Alfahor, a dessert made with caramel, coconut kneaded dough, it’s totally yummy. Local restaurateur and political activist Paula Tejada runs a very tight and small footprint in the Mission street food scene and her small shop is a must visit spot to enjoy her traditional empanadas.
Checking out the cool street art at Clarion Alley
Along the way to our next food stop, we take a break and wander through Clarion Alley. It’s a popular spot for local artists to create graffiti and street art on all the walls, doors and buildings in the entire alleyway. The artwork changes constantly so it’s fun to come back and visit to see what is new. I created a photo tour of Clarion Alley in an earlier post that you can see here.
Just outside Clarion Alley is our next stop on Mission street at Southpaw BBQ on 2170 Mission street. The restaurant serves southern style barbecue meats along with local Southern favorite sides like creamy grits, deep-fried pickles, macaroni and cheese along with locally crafted beers made on the premises. We get to sample some of the craft beers on tap along with yummy appetizers and entrees off their menu. It was fun to try the different regional flavors of BBQ sauce in the Miller Lite containers with squirt bottles. My personal favorite BBQ sauce ends up being the sweet and thick Texas style sauce.
Two dessert spots were included in the tour starting off with a visit to a chocolate makers Dandelion chocolate on 740 Valencia street. We sampled a variety of chocolate nibs in different percentages of cacao. They also create hand-made marshmallows. The marshmallow sample paired with chocolate nibs were the perfect pairing after all the heavy BBQ dishes and beer. I really loved the natural space and open air environment of this shop.
To cap off our last stop, we head out to the Bi Rite Ice Creamery at 3692 18th street. We make it to the end of the line which was packed and almost a block long. But instead of waiting, we all opt for the shorter soft served ice cream which was equally yummy trying every soft serve samples. I end up settling for a nice cone of salted caramel ice cream and it is out of this world yummy, a perfect ending to this foodie extravaganza.
Here are more photo highlights of the area:
Cool street art in the Mission District
Exploring trendy shops and galleries on Valencia street
Hanging out with fellow bloggers Kristi Trimmer with Dragonfly Running and Stephanie Quilao with Vibrantly.
You will definitely walk away from this tour completely full with all the food that you will be sampling (or gorging ). If you do take this tour go hungry because you will be fed a lot of food and get your moneys worth.
More details to the Mission street food tour
The tour is a relatively easy and flat walking tour covering around 10 or so blocks of the Mission district neighborhood, wear comfortable shoes.
Walking tours last between two – two 1/2 hours depending on walking and waiting time at establishments.
Drinks are also included in most of the venues on the tour.
For more information on this tour or others through Explore San Francisco, visit their website here. Thank you for visiting and reading about the San Francisco Mission district food tour, if you enjoyed it please share it with any of the social media buttons on the post.
If you enjoyed this post, please do check out these other posts on visiting San Francisco
Also, thank you to Explore San Francisco for hosting me, all opinions and thoughts are my own and I had a fantastic time on the tour and recommend taking their food tours.