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food meccas (stores more than restaurants) in the North Beach, SF area

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My husband and I will be in SF for a couple of days in early May and were thinking about taking Shirley Fong-Torres Wok Wiz Chinatown tour and Grace Ann Walden’s Mangia North Beach tour, especially as we will be staying near the North Beach area.

He’s been really busy w/ work lately, so I thought I would try to make our time in SF particularly food-centered, as that is a particular interest of his. (Mine as well, but not to the same extent.) Any other food meccas in that general area we should try to visit? Obviously it doesn't need to be right in the North Beach area as the tours will likely cover much of that, but I also don't want to trek completely across town for a chocolate shop. OK, maybe if it's the most AMAZING chooclate shop......

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  1. Assuming all those tours hit the highlights, the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is THE food mecca and not too bad to get to from North Beach. You can go to Ferry Plaza during the week too, just not the same, but still interesting.

    Where the heck are you from meg? I see East Coast/Tri-state area, but might help in terms of different things from your home to reccomend

    I'd hop on BART and go to Shattuck Ave in Berkeley around Chez Panisse and check out Cheeseboard and some of the food in that area. Take a bus to Berkeley bowl and take a gander at the produce.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      We're in the Albany, NY area, which is upstate NY. Jack lived in Philly and I was in London for awhile and we are an easy drive from NYC, Montreal, Boston and Philadelphia, so we're not completely country mice. But neither of us have spent any significant time in CA, so we're hugely excited.

      Thanks again for your help!

      1. re: rworange

        Are there any places in North Beach still worth eating in? I had a similar question.

        1. re: Squirreletta

          There are some good restaurants. For Italian grocery shopping, North Beach is a shadow of what it was--just a few bakeries, two (?) delis, and one butcher left. The old grocery store is currently empty. Coit Liquor isn't what it used to be.

      2. The most AMAZING chocolate shop isn't completely across town - it's actually right in North Beach, so you're in luck! XOX Truffles makes delicious little nuggets of chocolate heaven. I especially love the caramel flavor. I imagine the Grace Ann Walden tour will take you there, but if not, you have to go.

        XOX Truffles - 754 Columbus Ave.
        www.xoxtruffles.com

        Also, check out Molinari's deli for sandwiches and Italian groceries.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chompy

          I love XOX too. Get a cup of Graffeo coffe there (and walk across the street and bring a bag of the dark roast home)

          Molinari's is good for SF. However, anyone from the East Coast won't be that impressed, IMO.

          1. re: rworange

            Yeah, I wasn't thinking impressive really, just enjoyable for a little browsing since they'll be in North Beach anyway.

            Good call on the coffee at XOX (and on buying some Graffeo bean across the street). I really like the way they make the espresso at XOX, it's less intense than Italian-style espresso, perfect with the smooth Graffeo dark roast.

            1. re: chompy

              Sadly, coffee is the one area where my otherwise foodie guy gets weird. He can’t bear anything w/ even a hint of coffee flavor. But thanks for the tips otherwise, especially the chocolate. I think it is on the Walden tour, but I’ll make it a point to mark the spot in case we want to return.

          2. re: chompy

            Second on that.

            1. re: chompy

              Those XOX caramel truffles are delicious! I used to order them, but the prices shot up a few years ago.

            2. Major food-shopping streets:

              - Stockton from Broadway south (Chinese)

              - Mission from 19th to 24th, and 24th east of Mission (Mexican, various Asian)

              - Clement from Arguello west (various Asian)

              - Irving from 19th Ave. west (various Asian)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Thanks for the suggestions. He has already done a lot of the touristy stuff there in the past, so I think we’ll do a fair bit of “aimless” wandering.

              2. Molinari's for sandwiches I think is a rip-off ($10 for a sanwich?)! I like Palermo Deli on Stockton, one block away from the Park. They have some Italian i,ports and make great sandwiches. For Pastries, check out Mara's on Columbus. They have their delicacies in the window, so you won't miss it. Try the raspberry ring. There's also Victoria Pastry Company on Stockton that is a SF institution (my mom used to get my birthday cakes there when I was little) and they sell assorted italian cookies. XOX Chocolate has some of the most amazing HOT Cocoa and you get a free truffle with it. Northbeach is fantastic! (Although I'm biased because I live there) Enjoy yourself.

                1. i think that's a nice idea, and i think you can have a great time strolling around NB, chinatown, and the ferry bldg. sounds like you'll want to graze your way through, hitting a few highlights, and otherwise enjoying sniffing around and window shopping. since no one has seemed to grasp the nature of the tour you have in mind, let me jump in with starter ideas, but those aren't exactly my neighborhoods so others should chime in,

                  start with morning espresso drink or cocoa and pastries at a cafe or two of your choice.
                  try the foccacia place in nb, at the corner of the park.
                  go to the aforementioned xox
                  go south, and grab a few dim sum items on or near b'way,
                  cross b'way and go down stockton for the spectacle.
                  get dan tat egg custard tarts at golden gate bakery on grant
                  peek into the wok shop, a dried foods store, or an apothecary for interesting paraphernalia
                  stop and relax at a tea bar in chinatown
                  if you have time, stroll by portsmouth square and possible quick detours to belden place or tadich grill
                  but get down east to the ferry bldg (on sat.) by 1 at the latest. actually, you might have to juggle these around to get to the farmer's mkt earlier.

                  finally, stroll back up to sansome and greenwich, and up the back steps to coit tower to cap it off. the whole thing shouldn't be more than 2-3 miles, but manage your appetite for the grazing opportunities.

                  best wishes

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: echo

                    Wonderful suggestions - thanks!!

                    1. re: echo

                      The foccacia place is Liguria Bakery on Stockton (I think?). They have 3 or 4 different kinds. Get there early, because once they sell out, they close up for the day.