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Get Gourmet in San Francisco

Local Tastes of the City Tours

Local Tastes of the City Tours is passionate about preserving San Francisco’s flavor. That’s why the company’s walking tours in North Beach, Little Italy and Chinatown focus on and feature the landmark shops, local cafes and longtime bakeries that “make the city,” Lee said, “because if you lose these places, that takes away the character of what the neighborhood is all about.”

Groups will taste focaccia sandwiches at Mario’s, which opened in 1973; sample deli delights at Molinari Delicatessen, which has been making salami in San Francisco since 1896; and eat cannoli at Stella Pastry, which has been in business since 1942. When Lee was a kid growing up in North Beach, his grandmother used to send him to Stella Pastry to get rum cakes. In Chinatown, guests will sample dim sum, learn about authentic Chinese cookware and see how fortune cookies are made.


Avital Tours

Avital Tours founder Avital Unger “is fantastic about getting the story out,” Lee said. Storytelling is as much a part of the company’s walking food tours as the food itself, but the food is how guides tell those stories. “She will have the chef come out and talk to the group about how they built the place, how they came up with the idea for the item you’re eating,” Lee said. “That’s a big thing for her — there’s a story behind everything.” Avital offers walking tours in three of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods: the Mission District, North Beach and Union Square. Each tour includes an introduction to the neighborhood’s culinary history, a stop at a historic landmark and a bit about the neighborhood’s story, all punctuated with and illustrated by two appetizers, an entree and dessert.


Gourmet Walks

Gourmet Walks gets guests away from San Francisco’s touristy hubs and into the lesser-known neighborhoods, such as Hayes Valley, Alamo Square and Russian Hill. Some of the areas the company features are more residential, but they are home to neighborhood establishments that put out amazing food. Gourmet Walks founder Andrea Nadel “focuses on these areas because there are places here that are worth discovering,” Lee said. In Hayes Valley, guests will stop at specialty shops and restaurants to sample fresh tacos, Cajun gumbo and banh mi sandwiches. In Russian Hill, tastings include bone broth, homemade gelato and New York-style pizza. During the Alamo Square tour, groups will visit the up-and-coming neighborhood’s spate of specialty grocers, bakeries and creameries and stop in Alamo Square Park for a view and a photo of the famous “Painted Ladies.” Gourmet Walks also offers chocolate-specific tours that feature infused hot chocolates, truffles and blind chocolate tastings.


San Francisco Wine School

You can’t really talk about San Francisco’s culinary scene without mentioning wine. Surrounded by California’s acclaimed wine country, the city is flowing with some of the best bottles to be found, and groups can sip, sample and learn about regional and international wines at the San Francisco Wine School. The school has been around for several years but opened its new wine education center about a year ago. The 4,000-square-foot flexible space can be used as one, two or three rooms for private events and boasts 16-foot-high coved ceilings and 12-foot-tall windows that deliver views of the San Bruno Mountains. Groups can sign up for classes by wine region, such as California, France or Italy; other options include blind tastings, pairing and serving classes, and workshops about winemaking practices.