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A fun food tour in North Beach, the Little Italy of San Francisco

Cool retro signs at North Beach food tour in San Francisco
Cool retro signs at North Beach food tour in San Francisco
Noel Morata Photography

Enjoying the North Beach neighborhood better known as ‘Little Italy’ in Francisco is fun when you experience the area by taking a food tour of the area. Inherently tied to a food loving community, North Beach is steeped with history, food production and an active café lifestyle. The best part of touring the neighborhood is enjoying the folk lore and history through an animated icon from North Beach and this Blandina Farley with Local Tastes of the City Tours. An artist and iconic local character, Blandina exudes the quirky nature of this area which once welcomed the beatniks, artists, gays and fringe elements mixed in with working ethnic groups like Italians and Chinese immigrants to this melting pot community.

Food is a central part of this community with bakeries, Italian delis and restaurants, Italian pastries and imported goods, artisan producers and shops. We start off with a tour of Caffe Roma a fixture of coffee blenders and retailers that have been servicing the community for a long time along with selling a variety of home make Italian pastries in their signature bakery. We end going to more carbo induced heaven with a tour of a local bread/bakery producer, fudge shop, Balsamic and local products, yummy penne pasta in oh so good homemade marinara, more pastries and Italian anti pasta and thin crust pizza. Along our tour of local haunts and shops, Blandina adds funny stories of the interesting and bizarre characters of the area including the Parrots that have completely naturalized in the parks and green spaces of North Beach.

We peak into a dark and ornate Saints Peter and Paul church, visit the inner sanctums of a well-known jeweler/artist, savor some delicious favored balsamic vinegars and yummy handmade caramels and see bread and pastries being made in by hand and with huge machines at a baking institution servicing the area and local restaurants and hotels in the area.

The walk is easy and well-paced with a combination of food stops and tasting mixed in with visits to interesting landmarks in the neighborhood. The 3 hour tour is fun with just the right amount of food tasting that is included in the tour. Blandina really makes the tour and neighborhood come alive while we visit many local purveyors and haunts in the area, adding just the right amount of personal story telling with famous personalities that have lived or hung out in the historic or popular spots of North Beach. If you are in the mood to experience food and touring this eclectic neighborhood, I would recommend taking a tour with Local Tastes of the City Tours.