Visit San Francisco’s “Foodie Vatican” and sample some of the city’s best flavors: thin crust pizza, ice cream, croissants, cheese flights and coffee; browse locally crafted treats & seasonal produce, and visit a community space dedicated to food.
San Francisco is home to one of the country’s finest food scenes. Nowhere else in the city is this more obvious than the 18th Street corridor near Dolores Park, a location that The New York Times once dubbed “The Foodie Vatican” and that some locals refer to as “The Gastro” (a play on the Castro neighborhood close by).
The 18th Street corridor hasn’t always been the food mecca that it is today. This foodie destination neighbors Dolores Park, one of the most widely used parks in the city. The park is filled with a wide cross section of San Franciscans (Castro gays, Noe Valley mommies, Mission hipsters), but it didn’t used to be that way. Before the gentrification of the neighborhood in 1990s and 2000s, the park and its surrounding area including 18th Street was a place where drug addicts and homeless people camped out on a daily basis.
This all changed in the late 90s, thanks both to stricter anti-homeless policies and the dotcom boom that began the shift toward gentrification in the Mission. Through it all, BiRite Market was a staple on the street, bringing beautiful food to the neighborhood long before the dot com boom and hipsters replaced the traditional Latino population of the Mission.
Nowadays 18th Street and the surrounding neighborhood is a much coveted restaurant and food district. Bi-Rite Market has expanded from just a grocery store, to a popular ice cream parlor across the street as well as the 18 Reasons food/community space. The unassuming Tartine Bakery is arguably the best known bakery in all of San Francisco and is often used as a landmark for directions in the city. And Delfina Pizzeria is so popular that they’ve opened up a second location across town.
On this tour you’ll eat some blistered thin crust pizza inspired by New York and Naples, snack on some of the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted, browse through a grocery store full of locally made artisan treats and seasonal local produce, visit a community space dedicated to strengthening our relationship with food, bite into a flakey Parisian croissant from a destination bakery, sample a hand picked cheese flight that changes daily and finally grab a cup of coffee at an only-in-San Francisco café.
18th Street is an easy walk from the 16th Street and BART station, and several MUNI stations. Parking is challenging in the neighborhood and public transportation or a cab is recommended.
Currency Used on Tour: USD.
Tour cost: about $50 (assuming you order one of each recommended dish on the tour. Prices are current as of November 2011, and don’t include tip, which can range from a $1 in the tip jar to 20% of the bill – after taxes please.)
Restrictions: Nearly all the stops have vegetarian options, and in fact, several of the recommended dishes are vegetarian friendly, including the ice cream, pastries, and cheese.
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Irvin Lin writes the award winning blog “Eat the Love,” a finalist in Saveur magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards in the category of Best Baking and Dessert Blogs. His work has been featured in the Yum...