On a typically foggy San Francisco morning I parked my bike outside Craftsman & Wolves, a contemporary patisserie in the Mission District, an area famous for its parklets, trendy clothing stores and bike lanes. Dining hot spots here range from Michelin-starred restaurants to a lively Thursday night farmers market. Like the entire Bay Area, the Mission is home to so many eclectic, delicious food options it can be overwhelming, even for locals.
This morning I was meeting Lisa Rogovin, the founder of Edible Excursions, who greeted me with me with coffee and the cafe's signature muffin, "The Rebel Within" which features an egg baked inside a corn muffin with bacon and cheese. Edible Excursions is one of the original food tour companies in the Bay Area, and an answer for aspiring-foodies like me, who want to explore the local culinary scene but aren't always sure where to start.
The Rebel Within from Craftsman and Wolves is a genius idea. Seriously.
She talked history as we walked up and down Valencia and 18th Street, peering in storefronts and chatting with shop owners. At the famous Bi-Rite market, I learned how the former liquor store opened as a grocery store in 1997 and is lauded as a catalyst for the neighborhood’s re-birth as a vibrant culinary and cultural destination.
“It teaches people about where food comes from,” says Rogovin, discussing the high quality of products as we wander the cozy aisles. That’s the best part of an Edible Excursion -- not only do you get to taste amazing food, but you learn how closely the food is tied to the community’s vitality and gain a greater appreciation for what passes over your palate.
The Bi-Rite Market is full of unique, local food items and a food lover's staple in the Mission District.
At first, I was surprised that almost 90 percent of tour participants are Bay Area locals--from serious foodies to folks who just love to eat--and they are all enthusiastic about getting the inside scoop on the Bay Area food scene. I grew up here and have years of experience eating in San Francisco, but quickly countless new things and added several restaurants to my to-dine list after only a few short hours with Rogovin (Boba Guys on 19th Street and Dandelion Chocolate are now at the top of my list).
We walked across the street from the market to the Bi-Rite Creamery, a small ice cream and baked goods shop. On sunny days, the lines stretch down the block, but the wait is worth it. A scoop of small-batch honey lavender or salted caramel ice cream made with organic milk, cream and eggs delivered straight from Straus Family Creamery in Petaluma is practically pure gold in the world of ice cream.
Honey lavender is just one of the many flavors that range from chocolate and vanilla to Earl Grey tea flavor at the Bi-Rite Creamery.
Another of my favorite stops on the Mission District tour is Dandelion Chocolate, a combination factory and café, which offers classes and tours, and is even leading an exotic Chocolate Trip to Belize in 2015 to learn about cacao at the source.
By the end of the tour I was full, happy and had a long list of places to revisit. I recommend the tours for any Bay Area local and, for anyone visiting San Francisco, Rogovin recommends going on a tour early on in their trip. That way, they can get personalized dining suggestions from the expert guides re-visit places they liked the most before their trip is done.