Disclosure: I was invited to check out the Mission District Food Tour with Avital Tours. No compensation was received for attending, and all opinions on this blog are my own.
One of the things I enjoy doing the most in San Francisco is stepping into the shoes of a visitor. Maintaining a fresh perspective of the city I grew up in is what keeps the relationship strong between us.
Very recently, I was approached by Avital Tours to check out one of their food tours, specifically the one in the Mission. They take pride in not being a typical tour company - they consider themselves “a culinary experience company who provides a behind-the-scenes snapshot of a famous San Francisco neighborhood by telling its story through its people and great food (and drink, of course!).”
The Mission edition of Avital Tours meets at the Women’s Building and hits up four restaurants in three hours. That gives you two spots for appetizers and drinks, one for your entree, and a final stop for your dessert. Tours run Tuesday, Saturday (mid-day and afternoon), and Sunday, so plenty of options to choose from.
Our tour guide, Corinne
We joined in for a tour on a Tuesday evening after work. Corinne, our guide, met us at the Women’s Building, gave us a quick intro and then led us down the street and around the corner to our first restaurant on the Mission District tour: Mission Cheese.
I don’t think I could have hidden my excitement for our stop at Mission Cheese. I’d been wanting to go for so long and just never got around to it. I was glad my first experience was with Avital Tours!
Quesa de Mano and Bleu Mont Cheddar paired with Magnolia Blue Bell Bitter
Sarah of Mission Cheese graciously answered any questions we had in the time that we were there. My question for her was about the smallest producer of cheese that she sourced from. Super cool to get the inside scoop from her directly!
Our second appetizer and drinks stop was a place I’d been to a few times before: Hog & Rocks. While we didn’t get to chat with owner Scott Youkilis, we learned about how the restaurant came to be.
A Blood Orange Collins to go with our plate of Washington Miagi oyster, Greci & Folzanni Prosciutto, pita, and house-made pickles
In addition to the food stops, we made a few mural stops as well. Corinne gave us some background information, as well as fun facts. It kept the walk from restaurant to restaurant entertaining.
Giants mural outside of Hog and Rocks
Our entree stop was Tacolicious, which up until that point in time, I’d had no desire to check out. It was probably the cheesy name. Silly to have a barrier to entry like that, but I’d have to say that because of the tour, I definitely wouldn’t mind swinging by again.
Tacos - Shot-and-a-Beer Braised Chicken [left] and Pacific Cod [right]
Before hitting up our final stop for dessert, we took a little shopping/sampling break at Bi-Rite Market. While I’m familiar with parts of the market’s story, it was nice to get a more detailed version.
And as one might have guessed where this was all leading - the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery across the street!
Bi-Rite Creamery’s famous Salted Caramel ice cream
The beauty of these tours is that Avital Tours has an ongoing relationship with each of their partners, and what you experience on each tour is a really personal experience. So even though I am revealing the restaurants and what we ate on the tour, you won’t really know what the tour was really like without going on one yourself.
When was the last time you were a tourist in your own city/town?