Sidewalk Foodie Tour – Valencia Corridor
Our Sidewalk Foodie Tour of San Francisco’s Valencia Corridor included a wide range from the many things this district has to offer. It wasn’t too long ago, that, if you stepped foot onto 14th and Valencia at night, there was a good likelihood someone would commit a crime against you. Certainly not the case anymore. In fact, on Friday and Saturday nights, you’ll find it difficult to make your way through the crowds, much less to have the good fortune of finding parking. San Francisco restaurants will never be the same, thanks to these upcoming neighborhoods.
Now that I’ve been on both the Valencia Corridor tour and the North Beach Tour, let me tell you the difference between the two. The North Beach tour is filled with all kinds of history about the community itself. Valencia is a new district, one that has risen from the ashes as a result of low rent and foodies willing to go to the ‘dark side’ for a chance at amazing food. North Beach is pretty much Italian. Anything goes in the Valencia Corridor.
So, as you’ve seen, there’s a marvelous and rich history about North Beach. Kasey tends to trace San Francisco’s history during this tour. The Ohlone Indians arrived in 500AD. Mission Dolores was built in 1791. California was a Mexican territory in 1824, giving up the land to the US shortly before the Gold Rush. Many of the streets in San Francisco are named for the Gold Rush proliferates, John Sutter and Sam Brannan. What’s amazing is that the population doubled every ten days for the first 19 months of the Gold Rush. Valencia became a European neighborhood, then Latino, then the Bohemians moved in in the 80s.
The meeting place at 826 Valencia is a proud Pirate Shop – an amazing effort by Dave Eggers. A crazy shop up front, it’s a tutoring site for kids to improve their reading and school skills in the back.
Craftsmen & Wolves, standing for the art and its obstacles, is the work of the genius from Quince, one of San Francisco’s best restaurants. Not settling on the usual, this shop crafts the most amazing pastries, bread and other flour-based goodies. We enjoyed a Financier, a pastry popularized by its availability in the business district in Paris.
We also saw this delightful chocolate place but no time to go in.
Falafel was invented over 2000 years ago in Egypt and has evolved ever since. Alibaba provides with fresh fava-bean and chickpea based falafel with a hummus dip that are out of this world. You would never know this from the simple storefront. Take the time to look inside.
We headed to Taqueria Cancun for some beef tacos. Pretty good.
Next, we had the Kung Pao Pastrami from Mission Chinese Food. If you haven’t been to Mission Chinese, you MUST go. Danny Bowien is a genius and takes the common Chinese food ingredients and makes them pop. Thrice Baked Bacon – come on!! Salt Cod Fried Rice. It’s just simply amazing food.
This is wonderful mural recently completed at the Women’s Center. Also interesting in terms of architecture is that the 1906 Earthquake caused terrible damage. However, someone at 20th and Valencia tried to use the water hydrant and it worked!! So, you’ll see a marked difference between Victorian and Edwardian architecture – as in rebuilds – north and south of 20th and Valencia.
Pizzeria Delfina – Oh My!!! You’ll stand in line to get into this place most of the time. The pizza is so craftingly prepared. Their restaurant next door rocks as well. In fact, you could eat on this block for a month and not be bored. There’s BiRite-a marvelous market with food to prepare and prepared food, BiRite Creamery – go for the salted caramel ice cream, Namu Gaji – a recent transfer from the Balboa area in the Richmond District. And, Kasey ended our tour with Tartine Bakery’s cookies, simply delightful.