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  • Little Saigon

    Little Saigon and Tendernob

    Little Saigon and the Tendernob are two Tenderloin neighborhoods that are home to large immigrant populations and some of the best food in the city. Join us as we take you on the only food tour of this district and explore the flavors of Asia, the Middle East, and beyond!
  • The Mission

    The Mission District

    San Francisco's 1st neighborhood, The Mission District is still the heart & soul of this vibrant city. This area is so rich in culture, that we have 4 Mission food tours & 2 neighborhood walks.
  • North Beach

    North Beach

    North Beach is that rare thing -- a neighborhood that manages to be a perennial hit with tourists, and also to remain beloved by San Franciscans. It's San Francisco's Little Italy and the home of the beatniks.
  • Scenic Running

    Scenic Running

    Just a short run from the urban landscape of San Francisco's busy city streets you will find numerous trails and parks offering phenomenal views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the City Skyline and other gems.
  • Chinatown

    Chinatown

    Established in the 1840s, San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Our food and walking tours are 2nd to none.
  • Parrots!

    Parrots!

    Wild Parrots in San Francisco? Yes there are officially at least two flocks of wild Parrots here. These Parrots have evolved into a brand new species of parrot indigenous to San Francisco.

Uncategorized Blogs

Explore SF Blog: Hidden Gems Of San Francisco

Neighborhood Holes in the Wall

Although it seems to be changing, one of the more prominent features in any just about any San Francisco neighborhood, was the human scale of the neighborhood itself.  Buildings were rarely taller than 5 stories, usually 3, so the sky was where it should be, right above. The buildings would have main floor retail, usually one business, and a few residential flats above. One would walk to do their shopping, and might catch transit to run errands out of the neighborhood. Not only would you know your neighbors, but you’d know them well, thin walls  have made their lives easy to be a part of.

But even in this type of neighborhood, every now and then you pass a small business that you have never noticed before. A small hole-in-the-wall, something so unique, and special that once you’ve found it, the neighborhood just seems that much more special from then on. And you think to your self, God I love San Francisco. Here is a list of a few holes in the wall to help you better appreciate our wonderful city.

Please submit your own favorites and I will post them in a couple weeks!

Colorbox Salon

J & M Sandwiches

Cordon Bleau

Le Mediteranean

Golden Natural Foods
Golden Natural  Produce

These two stores are not really holes in the wall, unless you compare them to Safeway and now Whole Foods. Both of these corporate behemoths seem poised to suck the life out of neighborhood businesses and deliver the bodies to Scott Weiner’s front door.

These 2 fantastic stores are family owned and have been here for decades. They have the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices. And for the love of God, Whole Food just opened  so if you  value independent businesses, good food, neighborhood businesses, or all things San Francisco, SHOP HERE NOW  BEFORE YOU CAN’T

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An Early Thanks

Thanksgiving is upon us

and we have had a great year…

Here are some things we are grateful for.

We are grateful that we get to live here and
blessed that we get to do this for a living.
We are grateful that we have such incredible customers.

Thanks.

We couldn’t be more thankful that more and more people are finding out about us. We have gotten lots of good exposure the last couple months including our first in-flight magazine, Etihad Airway’s (Abu Dhabi), “Etihad InFlight”. An excerpt:

“…Mike, who’s incredibly laid-back, has lived in the Mission for decades, and hanging out with him on his “moving dinner party” is like catching up with an old friend. Tailoring each tour to his guests, he tries to include about five to seven outlets, while sharing everything he knows about his ’hood.

We’re exploring the Valencia Corridor – an area that spans a few blocks…”

READ MORE
here and here

We were honored to have the chance to donate some tours for auction at the annual KRCB fundraiser. We were able to raise some money and support PBS.

The Blogosphere continues to write about us. But it isn’t just the bloggers any more. In February, we will be featured on an episode of American Canvas which is shown on the Ovation Network, the footage was shot in the beginning of November. We also were filmed  for a new video application called Squish, we will be a part of their advertising and marketing campaigns. And of course, our wonderful customers continue to give us rave reviews. Thank you. All of this has taken place in just the last couple months, so we have lots to be grateful for…

Some of our favorite blogs:

What the hills y’all?

San Francisco Local’s Guide

Travel Photo Discovery

Vibrantly.co

North Beach & Chinatown Food Tour

North Beach & Chinatown Food Tour

The Mission Food Scene
gets a soundtrack:

Mission Foodiez

An Overeasy remix using sights and sounds from San Francisco’s Mission District. I really like Bi-Rite Market’s mission statement, “Creating Community Through Food” and well, why not add music to the mix?

Mission Food Tours

 

Mission Food Tours

An Appetizer From :

Explore SF:
Mission District
Food Tours

Enjoy!

New tour focuses on the sweeter side of life.

SIgn up now for limited two for one special!

Book now through Thanksgiving and receive two for the price of one.

Help us celebrate our sweet new tour!

EASY AND DELICIOUS HOLIDAY RECIPE

Chocolate Chili Spiced Pecans

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, preferably golden or amber

  • 2 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 cups pecans

  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

  2. Stir brown sugar, maple syrup and butter in a medium bowl. Add pecans, cocoa, chili, chipotle and salt and stir to coat. Spread the nuts out on the parchment lined baking sheet and bake until the cocoa mixture is bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir nuts and continue baking until the nuts are sticky and the maple mixture is coating them, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Let cool.

YELP to be Yelped

(CBS SF) – For years, business owners have cried foul at the damage one bad Yelp review can do to their business. Now it appears that the balance of power is being restored in the form of patron “performance” ratings.

ResDiary, the Australian restaurant reservation equivalent of OpenTable, is now allowing the eateries to get involved in the reviewing, taking notes on what you ordered, how long you stayed, how nice you were and how well you tipped, according to the Australian culinary website GoodFood. Diners can even be tagged with labels including – loud talker, quick eater, frequent no-show and wine connoisseur.  Since the reservation system is shared by a network of restaurants, the information is available to other operators to tailor their service to that individual.
Of course any sort of information can be recorded and passed along…

Another outlet is in the works for wronged Yelp review victims. A new site called, Kelp (kracking Yelp) is in the works, and the site will be a venue for wronged businesses to review unfair Yelp reviewers. “The idea is to fight fire with fire”, said the developer, “For too long anonymous reviewers have had the power to travel around and destroy businesses randomly, like snipers picking people off from the top of a building.”Adding, “Well it is time that these ruthless people be exposed, we aim to expose who these folks are, and will reveal all of their legally obtained public information. Not to do them any harm, but to empower them to live with what they have done to others. We want them to know the pain and suffering they have inflicted on innocent victims. We want their families to see how they spend their free time.”  He continued, “There have been more than one case of Yelp reviews causing a chain of events that ended in suicide, mental breakdowns, homelessness, and of course, countless business failures.”

 

 

From Trip Advisor,

“A GREAT RESOURCE FOR ACTIVE EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING!”

We hired Deanna and her team to lead a group of 40+ on a walking / running tour of historic San Francisco, including Hayes Valley and the Haight. They did a fantastic job and we all learned a lot — even San Francisco natives! This is a GREAT way to explore a city and I would highly encourage anyone to try it, even if you already know San Francisco well!

Hidden Gems Of San Francisco 

As seen in print and online in the Westside Observer and the Castro Courier, a monthly column written by the team members of Explore SF and SF Scenic Running,  “Hidden Gems of San Francisco”.

We are grateful we survived another Alcatraz season. Explaining to non English speaking travelers why they are not going to get to Alcatraz as easily as they thought, is as much fun as it sounds.

We are grateful that we survived another Halloween in the Castro. Watching Bridge and Tunnel people puke on the sidewalk is only fun the first couple times.

We are grateful we survived another Day Of the Dead in the Mission. Insert Bridge and Tunnel people comment here…

We survived another World Series win, and another night of Mission riots. It’s almost old hat at this point. But still, “Go Giants!”

 

Bonus Video!

Clearing The Streets

The Number One Thing We Are Thankful For This Week!

 

 

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Little Saigon Food Tour

 From San Francisco Locals Guide by Donna Riley

FARMERS MARKET

FARMERS MARKET

Explore SF

Little Saigon
DONNA RILEY on August 1, 2014 at 6:08 pm
Explore SF does the most varied tours of any San Francisco tour company that I’ve seen. When their Living Social special offer came up, I jumped at the opportunity to take their Explore SF Little Saigon tour. Dan Chew was our amazing tour guide. He has his own super website that details $10 or less meals around the world. It’s REALLY good, and Dan and I have a lot in common as we both have restaurant reviews and similar opinions of many restaurants, like Tito’s Tacos in Los Angeles and Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Berkeley. Dan grew up in Chinatown and, in fact, spent the day before on two fully booked tours of the Chinatown community. We were lucky enough to have Dan to ourselves, so he kindly switched up his tour to accommodate the myriad of tastes available in the Little Saigon area. SO, that means you need to take the tour, as Dan will always be changing and adding stuff. If you’re a foodie, you will love Dan as he is so knowledgeable about San Francisco food.

Officially designated in 2004, the two blocks of Little Saigon are Larkin St. between Eddy and O’Farrell. However, our amazing tour guide, Dan advised that, unofficially, the community goes from Polk to Leavenworth and Golden Gate and Geary. This is NOT a good neighborhood. There are homeless people and beggars and a fair bit of crime. Dan was able to navigate us away from the worst parts, but still, you’re going to see poverty and other unsightly activities. Be forewarned. Makes me wonder where the $25K per year that the city spends really goes.

Zen Yai Thai

Zen Yai Thai

Inside Zen Yai Thai

Inside Zen Yai Thai

Our first stop was Zen Yai where we ate Thai Boat Noodles. Their noodles are my featured image for this posting. Quoting Dan from his kind recap of our time together – “Zen Yai Thai – (771 Ellis Street). Thai Boat Noodles (off menu). Named after the many vendors who sell their noodles from boats plying their trade in the many waterways in Thailand. We had the thick rice noodles with sliced pork, meatballs, Chinese water spinach (Ong Chow in Chinese/Phak Bung in Thai/ Rau Muong in Vietnamese) and pork cracklings in a rich, dark broth made with beef stock, chiles, cinnamon, star anise and thickened with beef blood.” Site of the original United Nations Building.” And people, the bowl of this dish you see in my gallery was $2.50 – two-fifty!!!! The large size is $5!!!!! The soup is just amazing with a unique, spicy flavor. I had never heard of water spinach before. The stems are tubes – very nice texture and a little stronger taste than regular spinach. I’m going back to this and every place we stopped in our Explore SF tour of the Little Saigon area. Please note though, that the clientele is mostly Thai, and the specials on the wall are in Thai, not English.

We walked by Burmese Kitchen where Dan says the food is much better than Burma

Burmese Kitchen

Burmese Kitchen

Superstar, a place in the Richmond district that is impossible to get in to. Try the tea leaf salad when you go. (This is why I liked Dan so much – not only did we taste, but he was so forthcoming on his knowledge of spots we didn’t stop at. I was curious how someone who grew up in Chinatown would have such a knowledge of this neighborhood. Turns out that Dan worked at The Art Institute of California nearby, and he and his colleagues decided to try a different restaurant every day that they ventured out for lunch. And, by the way, there’s now a culinary program at The Art Institute of California where you can go to sample the students’ food on the top floor.) How cool that the Tenderloin Peoples’ Garden is so close by and apparently being fully utilized.

FARMERS MARKET

FARMERS MARKET

FARMERS MARKET

FARMERS MARKET

We went to the Civic Center Farmers Market which I keep forgetting is there. I also thought, with the homeless people so prevalent in this area, that the market would be depressing.

 

However, this isn’t at all the case. The produce is beautiful with a mostly Asian focus. Things like yam leaves, Opo squash that Dan says is great grilled with spinach and ground pork, Indian bitter melon – Indians add these more bitter melons to their stews, and lemon basil – all quite unusual products that I didn’t know about before.

We then proceeded to Saigon Sandwich, a place I’ve been wanting to try for the longest time as it is rated one of the best Banh Mi places in San Francisco. There’s always a line there. They are open seven days a week from 7am to 5pm. Those three women work really hard. According to Dan – “Saigon Sandwiches (560 Larkin Street) Special combination banh mi. Steam pork, roast pork and fanci pork pate (sic) on a crusty roll smeared with a fish sauce/soy sauce/mayo spread then topped with pickled daikon and carrots, fresh cilantro and sliced jalapeños.” This sandwich was $4.25. Their other sandwiches, not combos, are $3.25. No wonder there’s such a line!!!

 

I just loved Lee’s Sandwiches down the street,

FARMERS MARKET

Yam Greens


although we didn’t eat anything there. Filled with sandwiches and buffet items, they also have a large selection of Vietnamese and Asian products as you can see by the myriad of pictures I took when there. It turns out that they’re the largest banh mi chain in the world with over 55 stores and counting.

Dan pointed out Turtle Tower and says to order their Bun Bull Hanoi and the Cha Ha Hoi which is ground and sliced pork over vermicelli with fish sauce. In case I got that wrong and you’re going, it’s the #12 and it costs $8.50. I’m pretty sure that Turtle Tower is one of the highest rated Vietnamese restaurants in SF, at least for this Larkin location. Lers Ros is another highly rated Thai restaurant that’s close by.

Not only did we get a foodie tour, Dan was great about pointing out beautiful old buildings and classic architecture. Among them was, per Dan, “Alhambra Apartments (860 Geary Street). Built in 1913 in the Moorish style by native SF architect James Francis Dunn, the romantic penthouse and dome are where the legendary Rudolph Valentino reputedly entertained his paramours.”

Hai Ki Mi Gia is known for their braised duck leg with wonton egg noodle is well known to those in the know, now including you and me. I’ve added their storefront sign and a cloudy picture of this featured soup.

Then, it was on to A La Turca on Geary near Larkin. From Dan – “Ala Turca (869 Geary Street) Grilled kofte plate: ground meat with seasonings and spices made into patties and grilled. Served with rice and salad.” It was superb. The freshly baked bread had just come out of the oven. As it turns out, when we approached the restaurant, we ran into our old neighbor when we lived in Diamond Heights. He is Turkish, AND his wife owns the business with a partner after several years looking for good Turkish food in the city. Amazing coincidence. Jerry (as we Americans call him) is now working part time in Turkey and part time here in SF. He is truly the entrepreneur. We hadn’t seen him in 11 years. His son is now 15! Jerry kindly treated us to a wonderful a Ravani (sp?) which is not on the online menu. It’s made of corn and semolina flour with coconut and honey and a pistachio topping. It was delicious, especially when paired with the Turkish tea that Jerry gave to us.

Dan pointed out Kim Thanh for garlic roasted crab. I’ve always gone to Thanh Long way out in the Sunset district, but Dan says Kim Thanh’s garlic crab is better and way less expensive.

Castle Apartments
Other sites that one might not otherwise notice in such a strange neighborhood were, again per Dan, “Castle Apartments (823-829 Geary Street) Built in 1926, supposedly designed by Bernard Maybeck, architect of the Palace of Fine Arts. Alcazar Theatre (650 Geary Street). This Moorish/Byzantine masterpiece was originally built as a Shriner’s temple in 1917 by architect T.Patterson Ross.

Gaylord Apartments (620 Jones Street). Designed by architect H.C.Baumann, the ornate pillared Spanish Colonial Revival facade, colorful tiled steps and wrought iron covered windows look as elegant today as it did when built in 1929.”

Dan showed us this completely awesome Jones Bar rooftop spot at 620 Jones Street that one might not normally even both to look up off the street. Hard to see the entrance, this is a really cool place, especially for the younger crowd.

HIP JONES BAR

HIP JONES BAR

ALCAZAR

ALCAZAR

Our last stop was a place that you would NEVER walk into without the knowledge and advice of someone like Dan. Shalimar at 532 Jones is excellent Indian food at very reasonable prices. Dan tells us we were served “Tandoori lamb chops- Lamb chops marinated in yogurt sauce and cooked in the Tandoori oven. Shalimar chawal- basmati rice cooked in a rich stock with savory spices, brown onions and saffron. Garlic Naan”. Oh man was it good, but by this time, we could barely manage small tastes of the three. We left with a to go bag to enjoy at our Giants game that night. And, in just looking up their website, they have four locations, two in SF, one in Fremont and one in Dublin. Maybe that’s why their sign outside says they’re one of the best 50 restaurants in the country???

Go to Explore SF and book a tour. Ask for Dan if you can. I think they’re just super tours, and can’t wait for my next one!!

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Food Delivery, Food Courts, The New Black

  The Next Big Thing and an Unsuspecting yet Dubious Populace Regardless of what developers, realtors, or those that they have purchased on the Board Of Supervisors will tell you, what makes San Francisco such a great place is it’s historic resistance to change, particularly change for greed’s sake. People come from all over the Read the full article…


Alexander Alioto Opening Italian Restaurant on Valencia St

Another Monkey Becomes Another Alioto Italian Restaurant Michael Moran Into the gorgeous space that used to be Another Monkey, a new restaurant has opened: Plin, from none-other than Alexander Alioto.  Alexander Alioto, who is of course the former chef and partner behind the Seven Hills on Russian Hill, home of the Raviolo Al Uovo- a  giant pasta Read the full article…


1906 San Francisco is Smoldering


BYOB Summer Brunch Pop-Up

From Sosh:   HAUTE BRUNCH POP-UP WITH CHEF ANTHONY YANG   We know you love brunch (who doesn’t?), so we wanted to let you know about one of the coolest brunches in town: Ante Meridian, a pop-up brunch by star chef Anthony Yang (formerly of Per Se and Michael Mina). In a converted mansion called Read the full article…


1.4 Million Dollars for a 1906 Earthquake Shack in Bernal Heights

Earthquake Shacks in Demand in SF Housing Crisis Buyers looking to own a piece of San Francisco history need look no further: 331 Prentiss Street, a former earthquake shack in Bernal Heights, has recently come to market at $1.15 million. The two-bedroom, two bath house has undergone some major renovations, including a new foundation, new kitchen, Read the full article…


Ellis Acts

Board of Supervisors Makes Ellis Evictions More Costly for Landlords Scott Lucas | April 9, 2014 The bill, written by Supervisor Campos, will increase relocation payouts to existing residents by around a factor of ten.      Whether or not the use of the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict tenants when taking buildings Read the full article…


24th Street, The Heart of the Mission , Alixx Ortiz

While the recent onslaught of Ellis Act evictions diminishes the character of the City and destroys the ecosystem in favor of a more suburban beige experience, the south Mission neighborhood anchored by 24th street, el Corazón de la Missión, is the latest neighborhood under relentless attack. In solidarity, let’s take a look at the some Read the full article…