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Going down to san fran for the weekend!! What are the must buy items in San Fran to bring back home?

Hi i am coming down to san fran for the weekend and wanted to know what are specially made in san fran to bring back home for friends and family? I"m currently living in Canada so i'm sure there's alot of stuff that are only made in the US only sold in San fran. Also must try restaurants? Not sure when i'll be back so want to make the best out of it.


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  1. Without fail, Boudin's Sourdough bread. And definitely go to the Ferry Market building. Boccalone.

    6 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      Can't take Boccalone back to Canada, though. Heck, they confiscated my roast beef sandwich at customs.

      1. re: mamachef

        +1 for the Ferry Building recommendation. You'll find dozens of local vendors selling high quality specialty foods. It's a great one-stop tourist destination for foodie gifts. Be forewarned that it's a bit of a madhouse on Saturdays, as there is a farmers' market set up outside in addition to the permanent vendors inside the building.

        Some of my favorites in the building include: Frog Hollow's cherry preserves, Hodo Soy's yuba bean curd sheets (should be refrigerated, short shelf life), chocolates at Recchiutti (the chocolate-covered graham crackers are my dad's favorite), Stonehouse olive oils, Miette's fleur de sel caramels, and the Boccalone meat cone (not exactly something you can take home, but a must-try if you like charcuterie!).

        1. re: operagirl

          thanks mamachef and opera girl i will for sure run by the ferrry building. do you guys know the address to the ferrry building?

          1. re: love4spice

            It's at the end of Market Street. You can't miss it. It is San Francisco's Eiffel Tower.

            1. re: love4spice

              1 Ferry Building.

              Cowgirl Creamery
              1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

              Boccalone Salumeria
              1 Ferry Building # 21, San Francisco, CA

              1. re: love4spice

                If the weather's nice, sitting outside at the Hog Island Oyster Co. (Ferry Building location) is an awfully nice way to while away an afternoon, too!

                And now, for a couple slightly unrelated notes -- 1.) the natives may take umbrage at your less-than-local shortening of our city's name to "San Fran." and 2.) Please report back to us once you've tried our food! It's always nice to get an out-of-towner's perspective.

          2. Knead Patisserie Butter Pecan Croissants.
            Ritual Roasters, Blue Bottle, or Four Barrel Coffee.
            Bostock from Tartine.
            Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery (RedHawk)

            As for good restaurants - the list is epic.


            Blue Bottle Cafe
            66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            Four Barrel Coffee
            375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            Knead Patisserie
            3111 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. I don't know about Canada but be sure you check import allowances before you try to bring back meat, cheese, produce, etc. I know the US has some pretty strict rules about this.

              1. It's It. Don't think it'd survive an hour after purchasing though. hehe
                One of my favorite beers - Anchor Steam.
                Ghiradelli and See's chocolate seem to be favorite food souvenirs too.
                A bag of Blue Bottle coffee beans.

                Most of these are produced in the SF Bay Area but can be found distributed throughout the US... perhaps not Canada though.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Keesey

                  i was in a hotel in tokyo this morning. I wandered out to a small local bodega (I'm sure it's not a bodega in japan). They had anchor steam, liberty ale, and porter. These beers are very easy to find world-wide. Pliny the Elder, that might be a different story.

                2. if you love cheese, and the customs reg's permit bringing it into Canada, get to a top notch cheese shop and taste whatever looks good that's produced within 150 km. of SF. Cowgirl creamery has been mentioned already ; for a dry, aged cheese you might like Vella dry jack, and there are others.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: moto

                    The best cheeses produced in this area are by Andante, which has a stand at the Saturday Ferry Plaza farmers market.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I second the sourdough bread.
                      An absolue must.

                  2. On recent trips to see family I've brought:

                    1)Meyer Lemon Olive Oil -Ferry Building permanent stand but don't remember the name
                    2) Blue Bottle Coffee (check roast date but they are generally scrupulous about when they pull product
                    3) Boccalone sausages- never had a problem at customs
                    4) Cheeses ..Cowgirl and Andante products
                    5) Small sake bottles (True Sake has good assortment)

                    all have been appreciated though only the meyer lemon olive oil was hard to get-and sake variety is limited.
                    There are some outstanding Canadian cheeses -had several on recent Quebec visit, plenty of small batch coffee roasters in Toronto and Vancouver.

                    bread doesn't travel very well except perhaps the Tartine loafs with solid crust and high moisture content

                    Blue Bottle Cafe
                    66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    Boccalone Salumeria
                    1 Ferry Building # 21, San Francisco, CA

                    1. An interesting consideration: because of NAFTA, anything produced in the US (and, almost certainly, Mexico) does *NOT* count towards your exemption when you return to Canada (my brother experienced this a few months back). So if you wanted to take a case of CA wine home, for example, that's not a problem even if it's pricey. There's still the alcohol limit, but I've heard that many people have a lot of luck with paying a fairly minimal amount (maybe it depends on how happy the customs agent is that day?).

                      My brother's food shopping list usually consists of scotch (not NAFTA exempt, obviously) and tequila (from K&L Wines), Pliny the Elder (IPA), Verve coffee, Recchiutti chocolates, and capers from the farmer's market.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bouncepass

                        get some of those "cow ear" crackers from mee mee bakery on stockton

                      2. I'm personally a Philz coffee fan (which specializes in blends). I always make sure I get beans to bring back to Boston if I'm running out.

                        right now, I'm contemplating bringing back a bottle of Red Boat fish sauce during my next trip, but I'd have to check in my bag ... (re: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793219). you probably don't want that breaking in your bag, though. hah.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tammyh

                          I think a broken bottle of fish sauce in the cargo hold might count as chemical warfare! (And keep in mind, I actually like the stuff.)