One of my new favourite things to do when visiting a new destinations is to take a food tour. Travel has really expanded my sense of adventure when it comes to food. It’s hard to believe a few years ago I was a nightmare eater! Now I’ll happily eat crickets in Thailand or just eat everything a culture has to offer without thinking about what’s in it like i did in Morocco.
I had heard about Secret Food Tours from a friend who had done one of their New York Secret Food Tour and loved it. They have many tours in Europe, several in the USA and now they have their first Asian food tours in Hong Kong and Bangkok. My trip to San Francisco was the perfect opportunity to finally try one of their food tours.
Usually I would give you all the details when I do a food tour but since this is the secret food tour, for this one occasion I will be keeping some of the details secret. I know, I know, you want me to reveal the secrets but on this occasion I would be spoiling the fun of the tour for you if I did. What I can reveal to you is where the tour took place. I was sampling the foods of The Mission District, commonly referred to by locals as “The Mission”. This was the perfect place for a food tour in San Francisco. This neighbourhood is rich in cultural heritage and all these cultures have left their imprint on The Mission.
Some of the restaurants in The Mission have gained national attention and five of them have gained Michelin stars. You can see why I was excited for the tour once I found out where it would be. I was given a meeting location and our local tour guide was easy to spot thanks to his giant orange umbrella. Once we were all together it was time to begin the tour. The meeting point was chosen because of how close it was to our first stop. This was where our delightful journey was to begin.
San Francisco is home to the Mission burrito so it was only fitting that we started the tour with one of these. What’s different about the Mission burrito? It’s distinguished from other burritos by its size and the inclusion of extra rice. The tortilla is also steamed to increase its flexibility.
I knew I was in for a treat straight away as there was a queue forming outside before the place even opened! We took our seats inside while our guide went up to get the burritos. This was a great chance to get to know the others who were on the tour.
When our tour guide came back with the burritos I just looked at it and thought “wow”. It looked amazing. I took one juicy, flavourful bite and felt like I was in heaven. This burrito was delicious. I could see why people had been queuing outside for it! This is what I love about food tours. I just wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t for this tour.
The next stop was very close to our first but this stop was a bit of a tease. You see, every Secret Food Tour ends with a secret dish. For our tour this secret dish was a dessert and as your mom has been telling you since you were a kid, no desserts before your dinner.
While our tour guide was busy buying our secret dessert, we were distracted by a shop full of delicious looking sweets. This was a chance to buy some to take home for later. I really wish I had got a couple of treats because they look so pretty!
Once we were done here it was time for a short walk to stop number three. While walking around you could really see the cultural influences. This really is a great part of San Francisco to check out!
Our third stop could have easily been missed if you weren’t looking out for it. Next up it was time for some filipino food. As this place was a little small we all stood outside admiring the area while our guide went inside to order our next treat.
When he returned he was carrying several brown bags so we were left in suspense that little bit longer. We were each handed a bag and told that they contained egg rolls. I was super happy about this! They were crispy and full of flavour and definitely the best egg rolls I have ever tasted! To make them even better, we had a pot of sweet chilli sauce to go with them. You may not know this about me but I am OBSESSED with sweet chilli sauce!
I was happily munching away on my egg rolls as we made our way around Mission for more delicious food. Next on the menu we had some Japanese food. We were asked if we had ever tried potstickers before. I thought hard but couldn’t think of a time I’d ever had something called a potsticker before.
Once they were placed in front of me I realised I had indeed had them before. It was on this tour that I found out that sometimes these dumplings are referred to as potstickers for the simple reason that they slightly stick to the pot while cooking.
During this stop we were able to enjoy both meat and vegetable potstickers. These delicate potstickers were so delicious I could have quite happily stayed here and eaten a huge plate of them by myself. It was a tempting thought but I was keen to visit the next place.
For our final savoury stop we headed to a Michelin star oyster bar. I was very excited by this stop but before we headed there we headed down a little alley filled with street art. This could have easily been missed if we didn’t know about it so I was so happy our guide took us this way. It was great to see a community project that supports local artists.
After taking the delightful detour we arrived at the oyster bar. We were coming here to try the San Francisco clam chowder. Sourdough is a big thing in San Francisco so the clam chowder is usually served in a sourdough bread bowl. However, as ours was a sampling we had our clam chowder in normal bowls.
Our clam chowder was accompanied by a glass of chardonnay and a portion of homemade garlic bread. These were the perfect accompaniments for our clam chowder. Because sourdough bread is so popular in San Francisco I found myself ordering garlic bread a lot more than usual and I can easily say this was the best garlic bread I had in San Francisco!
We did come to this oyster bar to try the clam chowder but it would have been an absolute shame to eat at a michelin star oyster bar and not have any oysters. So while we were here we were given the option to order oysters. These were not included in our tour but at $2 for an oyster or $3 for a premium oyster it was hard to say no. If you’ve never had oysters before you will definitely not want to miss this opportunity. I went for one of the premium oysters and it was well worth the $3.
Sadly all good things must come to an end so off we went to our final stop of the day for some handmade ice cream. As I said before, all secret food tours include a secret food item and ours was to be served with the ice cream. As it’s a secret I’m going to be mean and not tell you what it is. After all it would ruin the surprise for those of you that want to take this tour! Just know that it was delicious and well worth the wait.
- Secret Food Tours around San Francisco are available all year
- Each tour is small and intimate to ensure guests receive a personal experience
- Your guide will be a passionate local who can answer any food questions you have about the area
- Price of the tour is $69
- Tours last around 3.5 hours
- The tour includes quite a bit of walking so make sure to wear sensible shoes
- Tours can be booked online
- All tours include a secret dish
- If you have any special dietary requirements or foods you prefer not to eat, SFT are happy to accommodate this. Either let them know in advance or inform your guide at the meeting point.
*All information correct as of December 2018
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Please note that while I was a guest of Secret Food Tours, the reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value you guys too much to lie to you. This blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!
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