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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Secret Food Tours: San Francisco - Mission District

We love a good food tour. Not just because of the food - that's a given - but because the tours are always infused with some local history that we wouldn't otherwise know. I booked the Secret Food Tours: San Francisco - Mission District as a surprise part of D's nineteenth birthday festivities. And our tour guide, Logan, gave us exactly what I hoped; he guided us on a deep dive into the history of the Mission District.

We kicked off the tour with a 'baby burrito' at La Corneta Taqueria, chips and salsa, and a Negra Modelo. Living in California, I have eaten a lot of burritos. It just never occurred to me that the word is the diminutive of 'burro' or donkey. So a burrito is literally 'a little donkey.' Hmmm.... Logan gave us his etymology that included loading up dozens and dozens of burritos into the sacks on donkey to go into the fields and feed the workers. I can see it.

If that was a 'baby burrito', I am loathe to see the full-size version. I was grateful that the next item on the agenda was a tour of the murals.

We walked for the next thirty to forty-five minutes and learned about the three Cs of that vibrant outdoor art gallery that are the murals of the Mission District: colors, communication, and commemoration. More than a couple of murals depicted the immigrant experience.

We saw murals that honored people who had been victims of violence, murals of people who were pillars or inspiration in the community. And there were murals that were pointed commentary on the influx of the tech giants and their impact on the culture and the housing market. Though my favorite murals were located in Balmy Alley and highlighted 'Women of the Resistance.'

After the murals, we ducked into La Vaca Birria and ate quesabirria in that old Discolandia building that used to carry records with music from all over Latin America. I have never had quesabirria. If you haven't tried it either, picture the marriage of a taco, a quesadilla, and a French dip sandwich. It was definitely one of the culinary highlights for my crew.

Logan picked up conchas that we ate while we strolled and learned about San Francisco architecture and how Willis Jefferson Polk helped shape the landscape during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 'Bay windows, anyone?'

And the final two stops were Media Noche, a fast casual Cuban counter, where we grabbed sangrias and marquitas with green sauce and Dandelion Chocolate that has been a family favorite for years! I had never had the signature Mission hot chocolate with two shots of espresso, but I will order it every time from now on. Wow.

This tour was right up our alley and I am just glad that we walked nearly four miles over the course of the three-hour tour. But we all agreed to skip dinner anyway. Wow. So. Much. Food. Don't worry though, you'll see more food from us this trip. Just not today.

If you have ever considered taking a food tour, I highly recommend it. We've done several and it's a great way to get a locals' look at a place. Almost always the chosen spots are small, locally owned joints that just make great food.

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Karen Kerr
Karen Kerr
Dec 24, 2022

OMG, quesabirria is my favorite! Once I discovered it, there was no going back. I do have a recipe on my blog for an Instant Pot version. So good.

Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
Dec 24, 2022
Replying to

I had never heard of it. No Instant Pot in my house, but I will check out your recipe soon.

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