My review of the Local Tastes of the City San Francisco Chinatown & North Beach Tour Food Tour
During my short week trip to San Francisco, I knew that I needed to make the most of my time in this culinary city. And boy, did I ever. In addition to all the ramen, dumplings and sushi I enjoyed on my own, I also signed up for a walking food tour with Local Tastes of the City San Francisco Food Tours.
The great thing about this tour is that in addition to day time tours they also have an evening one! Perfect for me since I was attending a conference during the day. Plus, it was easy to skip dinner and fill up during the tour instead.
The evening tour goes through both Chinatown and North Beach/Little Italy. You’ll start in Chinatown and walk through to North Beach. There were no major hills on this tour either.
My tour guide was Brian and he was AWESOME! He’d been in San Francisco for many years and had lots of tips outside of just where to eat too. ?
Here’s a sample of what we enjoyed during the trip.
The Chinatown Portion of the San Francisco Food Tour
The Eastern Bakery
Even at this first stop you’ll quickly realize you are absolutely getting your money’s worth for the food tour. There was so much to enjoy at the Eastern Bakery and my plate was filled with options. You’ll get to try rice cakes, pork buns, dumplings, sesame balls and more. You’ll learn that Dim Sum and Shumai originated in tea houses on the Silk Road. Shumai actually means “to cook and to sell” and these were made as small bites to be served along with tea for travelers taking short breaks along their journey.
Plus, you’ll get a sample of their moon cakes which are so popular they are actually shipped to China too!
Vital Tea Leaf
Our next stop was the ever popular (and for good reason) Vital Tea Leaf shop. You will sample SO. MUCH. TEA. And you will leave purchasing some tea. It’s that good and the personality of everyone working there is so welcoming and enthusiastic you decide you want to become a tea aficionado too!
We had about 6 samples as a group and then the employee working asked each of us what we enjoyed or wanted to try and tasted a few more. Everyone on my tour left with some tea to take home and I’ve been enjoying it for weeks.
It was very interesting to learn of all the benefits of tea, like white tea being so full of antioxidants that you might find it helpful with allergies. Ginseng tea is often used as a hangover cure because it’s so hydrating!
Our group had an extended walking break after this because we weren’t in any hurry to keep eating after the bakery and tea. Brian took us around Chinatown pointing out various points of interest and hidden alleys that I wouldn’t have known to pass through if I were touring alone. Plus, his knowledge of the neighborhood and it’s history was very enlightening and made the trip about ,more than just good food.
After this we made another stop in Chinatown for pot stickers and noodles. Our guide had the hookup everywhere we went because we would always get SO MUCH FOOD. It was great, but also daunting because we were barely half-way through the tour. Make sure to wear the stretchy clothes!
After this meal you’ll head out of Chinatown towards North Beach/Little Italy. Again, our tour guide was awesome because he didn’t rush us from one place to the next. We actually enjoyed some sweets after all the heavy pasta and dumplings.
North Beach/Little Italy Section of the San Francisco Walking Food Tour
Stella Pastry & Z Cioccolato
Stella Pastry was our next stop for an authentic cannoli. I’ve had cannolis in my life but nothing counted until this one! The sweetness was the perfect taste after all the spicy Chinese dishes. After this we hopped on over to Z Cioccolato for fudge. Luckily, they allow you to pick out a few samples that you can easily keep in their bag or eat if you somehow have any room saved in your stomach. ?
The Mona Lisa Restaurant
Lastly, we headed to The Mona Lisa Restaurant for pizza and (optional) wine. It was actually nice to go back to something more savory after all the sweets and the decor/vibe of the Mona Lisa was really fun. The service was top notch too. It really felt like a neighborhood spot.
If you have the pleasure of visiting San Francisco anytime soon, I’m going to highly recommend the Local Tastes of the City Walking Food Tour. The evening tour was amazing, but I’m sure you can’t go wrong with any of the afternoon tours either.
Thank you to the Local Tastes of the City Food Tours for offering me this complimentary tour. Of course, all opinions are my own.
Love food tours? Make sure to check out my Chicago Food Tour review too!