Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Mission District, San Francisco

The mission district, unlike the general hilly images of San Francisco, is relatively flat. Come hungry and in comfortable shoes to walk the streets to take in the artistic vibe of the area, its colourful murals and just keep repeating the process of walk, eat, walk, eat.
Stop 1: Four Barrel Coffee

Coffee was priority numero uno and so we kick started at Four Barrel Coffee.

Four Barrel Coffee is a cool joint. Cool tables, artwork on the walls, inked baristas and their own roasting operation at the back of the shop.

After our cup of coffee here, we had concluded that unlike the coffee that is generally roasted, brewed and served to us in Hong Kong, the blends in San Francisco tend to be more acidic and sour. In foods I love acid, I love sour but in coffee, not so much even though it is probably a superior product. With coffee, I’m not too much of a purist either, I sometimes put varied amounts of milk in my cuppa, so with too much acid or sourness, once hit with some milk – the thought of sour milk doesn’t sound too delicious to me. But that’s just me.

Stop 2: La Taqueria

You can’t go to the mission district and not have a taco or a burrito. That’s just silly.

La Taqueria is self proclaimed "Best Taqueria in the World". I don’t have too many points of comparison but I had good tacos here.  It isn’t fancy but it is busy and churning out scrumptious fresh fast food.

We ordered a bunch of tacos – chicken, tongue, chorizo, pork – and they recommended that we get them with guacamole and lined with crispy tacos. The tacos were good but not equally good. The chicken was probably the least interesting but the pork and tongue tacos were yummy. Tasty meats topped with fresh bright salsa and guacamole and lined with a soft and crispy taco, together the taste and textures all work.

Stop 3: Humphry Slocombe

The sun was shining down on us and so it was a perfect day for ice cream. I actually love ice cream in all weather, so in fact even if it was raining I would have still tracked down this ice cream shop with their interesting sweet savoury, savoury but sweet flavours.

Ok, I know this sounds weird but the ice creams taste as they sound. The exception is probably secret breakfast, since it is relatively hard to decipher what it is simply from its name. But for the straightforward names like peanut butter curry (my favourite of the lot!) it tasted like peanut butter with curry flavour in an ice cream form. That’s a good thing! It tasted natural and non-synthetic, just favours as they are and as they should be.

Stop 4: Mission Chinese

This was an unplanned stop and I had my reservations about eating here – amped up Americanised Sichuan influenced food in a dive environment as opposed to a local mom and pop Sichuan food joint in Hong Kong where deco is dismal, food is excellent and rude service is complimentary. Can it be better in a different way? But much have been said about this restaurant, Bon Appétit named it one of the 20 Most Important Restaurants in America and even James Beard has weighed in, so since we were in the neighbourhood and were still a little peckish, we decided to drop in to share a few plates.

We placed our name on the waitlist but then decided to takeout instead since there were about 15 people before us. But as luck would have it, just as we had finished placing our orders, a steady stream of people started to pour out of the restaurant, so we decided to stay to eat at the restaurant from our takeout tubs and to order one more plate.

Ma Po Tofu

Kung Pao Pastrami

Salt Cod Fried Rice

Erm. I don’t get hype about this place. Let’s just say I have yet to fall in love with Americanised Chinese food and we’ll leave it at that.

Stop 5: Tartine Bakery

If you have heard about Tartine, you have probably heard about the line that would snake out of the shop and maybe around the block. The original plan was to get here early to pick up breakfast pastries (and to get our hand on those morning buns) but that got scrapped and so here we were. Since we got here in the late afternoon, it is probably no surprise that we still had to stand in line for a bit and by the time we got to the counter … a few items that we wanted were already sold out. Oh well.

For the croissants that we did get our hands on, they were rich and airy and very flaky crispy. What was even better was the pain au chocolate (I love pain au chocolate, so I am biased) also rich, airy, not as crispy (which I prefer) but a good dark chocolate rolled into it.

And that’s all we really had time for.

Mission District Eats...

Four Barrel Coffee
375 Valencia Street

La Taqueria
2889 Mission Street

Humphry Slocombe
2790 Harrison Street

Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission Street

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street

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