At the beginning of this month, Mark and I had our 8 year dating anniversary (we are not married) and decided we wanted to do a little day trip to celebrate. Since moving from Illinois, we don't get to go out much alone, so we were both pretty excited about it. We live 30ish minutes away from Napa and wine country, but I don't drink so, although probably romantic, it doesn't do much for me. There is also the beach, but we like to do that with Myles. So I convinced Mark to do something in the city (he hates crowds and traffic), but had not a clue what that something was going to be. Naturally, I popped on Groupon. I love Groupon not only for the deals, but in a city as big as San Francisco, a focused and narrowed list is a must. This time it was an easy choice for us... "Walking Food Tour".. duh!!! The company does tours in 3 different neighborhoods, but the only one that worked for us was North Beach. Now going into this, I had no idea what kind of neighborhood North Beach was, and I probably should have looked into it before booking, but hey, food is food!
When we arrived our guide talked a bit about himself, the history of the area, and gave us an overview of the tour. The tour would be three hours long, we would stop at 5 places, and get a bit (which was really a LOT) of history along the way. I would say the tour was about 1/4 eating, 1/4 walking, and 1/2 history. But overall, we both loved the tour, food, and learning a ton about North Beach, which we found out is basically the Little Italy of San Francisco.
First we had a sandwich at Molinari's: salami, mozzarella, pesto, red peppers. It was simple, but the ingredients were so fresh and authentic; I even ate the red peppers on it!
Next was meatballs in red sauce and gnocchi in pesto sauce from Original US Restaurant. I was dying inside when he said we would be trying gnocchi. It literally melted in my mouth.
Their original menu: under $1 for sandwiches and $2 for entrees!
The neighborhood right next to North Beach is Chinatown. They meet right at this intersection. In front of us was North Beach and this was the view behind us:
So much culture, history, and beauty in this city, it is truly incredible.
Next next stop was a vegetarian Bolivian restaurant called Pena Pachamama. The owners are also Grammy winning Bolivian folk musicians, so we got to listen to some wonderful music while we sampled kale chips (out of this world), potatoes, and plantains.
Our last two stops were desserts. First we visited XOX Truffles to sample 100% handmade truffles. The owner and chef makes every single truffle by hand. He talked with us about his background and the process of making the truffles. He said that he could never trust anyone to even help in the process of making them, so all of the 50 dozen made daily are done exclusively by him. We each got to pick three truffles. Of course, I made sure Mark and I picked different ones so that I could get a bite of his as well. Sampling one bite of six is better than two bites of just three!
This is peanut butter, hazelnut, and raspberry. The raspberry was the best by far!
We also walked by the famous St. Peter and Paul church where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio took pictures after their civil ceremony (they weren't actually married here, they just took pictures for press and such).
Our last stop was cannolis at Cavalli Cafe. I have to be honest and let you all know that I have never eaten a cannoli prior to this. Because of that I have nothing to compare it to, but it was pretty good.
Before we found this walking food tour on Groupon, I didn't even know that such thing existed! And after talking with some other couples on the tour, apparently they are a thing all over the country! Now this is all I want to do in every place we travel to in the future! Learning about a new place, its history, experiencing the culture, and eating; winning all around!
Oh, and you can't leave San Francisco without some social commentary painted on a building: