October 11

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San Francisco Self-Guided Multi-Cultural Food Tour of the Inner Richmond

By Mashav Shelef


I used to live in the Inner Richmond neighborhood in San Francisco for almost three years, and I absolutely loved it. We used to take friends and family out there to show why we love this neighborhood so much. It was such a success that I started tour-guiding an extensive food tour of this area for two years. Groups of families, companies’ teams, and travelers could discover the magic and charm of this area.

When Covid-19 started I had to stop guiding the tours to my dismay and then we moved to the East Coast, leaving San Francisco behind. I wanted to create a way for this tour to live on, and for visitors of the city (and locals too), to have the opportunity to explore this unique place.

Inner richmond food tour San Francisco

Even now that we’re living in Brooklyn, we still get home-sick for the magical Inner Richmond. I can honestly say this place is a hidden gem and there’s no other place like it.

We’re working on an Audio Tour to be released soon with a dedicated app. Much much more will be included.

In the meantime, enjoy this FREE version of a self-guided tour of my favorite neighborhood in San Francisco – The Inner Richmond.

What do you need to do to enjoy a day of eating and discovering the best this neighborhood has to offer?

How To Plan Your Tour

It’s super easy:

Step 1: Map Up

Find the interactive Google map with all the stops of the tour plus all these recommendations here

Step 2: Choose Stops

Factor in how much time you have (anything between 1.5 – 5 hours would work, but 3 hours is the average). Take note of which of the 14 stops and 20 other recommendations are open, available, and might be interesting places for you to try and taste.

Step 3: Get Ready

Take some cash, a tote bag for your shopping and a good friend or family member (or both), and enjoy your day, walking from stop to stop.

Step 4: Eat Through

In each stop you visit – eat one or more of the items I suggest in this guide. Continue until you’re stuffed and happy.

Step 5: Share

Let us know how was your tour, and tell all your friends. Use the comment section below or our social media accounts: IG: @Always.Tasting FB: AlwaysTasting

What About the Full Audio Tour?

Keep in mind, this guide is limited but still very much functional. If you’re interested in the full audio tour you’ll enjoy:

  1. Access to an interactive app that will track your location real-time using GPS and help you get from one stop to the next
  2. Audio clips of myself talking and walking you through one stop to the next.
  3. Extra information about the different foods that you’ll be trying
  4. Stories and tales about the neighborhood’s culture and history, with visuals of how it looked like in the past.
  5. A detailed guide on how to plan your trip: what to bring, estimated costs, Bathroom breaks info, best times to go, practical info for each stop and plenty more pictures.

The app isn’t out yet BUT the full version is on TEST MODE for the next weeks. Please contact us if you’re interested in testing the full audio guide for FREE in exchange for your honest feedback before we release the paid version.

So are you ready? Here we go!

Inner Richmond Multi-Cultural Food Tour

On this tour, you’ll explore the variety of flavors only the Inner Richmond can offer. The Inner Richmond, situated between the Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, has a reputation for under-the-radar fantastic food and abundant multicultural restaurants. It’s often called the “New Chinatown,” but along the Chinese restaurants and Cantonese Dim Sum, you can also find Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Russian, Japanese, and Korean eateries along the main streets of Clement and Geary. You’ll discover bake shops, restaurants, specialty markets, and cool shops while sampling different dishes and hearing tales of the food and the neighborhood.

Stop 1: Express Pupuseria

Express Pupuseria San Francisco

This little neighborhood gem is located in what seems to be a liquor store. Inside you’ll find the ordering counter and a seating area in the back. It’s a good starting point for the tour; you can use the bathroom here and sit comfortably while eating your first snack of the day before starting the tour.

What to get here: 

Salvadoran Pupusa Revuelta (pork, beans and cheese) ($3.50). One shared between two people is a good portion for this food tour. 

For a vegetarian alternative, try the Loroco Pupusa. Loroco is a Salvadorian edible flower bud that has a unique flavor and aroma.

The pupusas are made fresh to order, so it takes about 10 minutes to make, but it’s worth the wait! They are served with Curtido – slightly fermented Salvadorian cabbage slaw and Salsa Roja.

Pupusa Revuelta in express pupuseria SF

Stop 2: First Korean Market

First Korean Market San Francisco

A quaint little market run by an adorable family, making fresh homemade Korean Dishes and traditional Korean side dishes called banchan. It’s a compact grocery store, yet they carry so many specialty items. If you’d like to cook your own Korean food, you can get your groceries here. If you’re interested in just eating some simple homemade Korean dishes, go ahead and get some of their ready-to-eat homemade Korean specialties.

What to get here: 

Look for the homemade deli food shelf and grab a Beef Kimbap (~$7) when you enter (vegetarian option available too). There are many other Korean plates to try, like Japchae (sweet potato noodles stir-fried with vegetables and chicken), KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), vegetable frittata, and many more. Further inside the store, find the refrigerated Banchan (side dishes) selection, and grab a little container of their Fresh Kimchi (~$4). Right across from the cashier, there’s a beverage cooler with some interesting sodas like Watermelon soda or Cherry Blosson Soda ($2); if you want to try these as well, it’s an experience.

I like to use the little entranceway in front of the store to enjoy the snacks with my guests. I suggest trying the Kimbap with a piece of Kimchi on top. 

Kimbap (Gimbap) in First Korean Market

Stop 3: Gourmand European Deli 

European Deli San Francisco

This tiny Russian deli is here for over 30 years now, run by the same family. It’s tiny, but it packs a lot. It was the first Russian deli to open a shop in the Richmond District. Nowadays, you can find bigger Russian/Eastern European grocery stores and delis in Central Richmond, around the 20th Ave. Step inside to find a great selection of deli meats, sausages, cheese, fresh goods, and dried goods. 

What to get here: 

Ask for a small jar or the XXL Maties Herring ($5) (see picture). Ask for a plastic fork. Before you eat it, please make your way to the next stop to grab some bread to eat it with. If you don’t eat fish, get something else as a sandwich filler – you’ll need it for your next stop!

Herring in European Deli SF

Other things you might want to get here:

Kvas beverage (traditional fermented Slavic and Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread), Farmer’s cheese (to use for baking, cheesecakes, sweet cheese filling for blintzes, etc.), a great selection of deli meats, Kabanos (Polish sausage that can be eaten as is as a snack), Caviar, and many more Russian delicacies. 

Stop 4: Boudin Bakery

Boudin Bakery San Francisco

Boudin Bakery is the most famous San Francisco bakery, founded in 1849. This store on 10th Ave was the bakery’s location after the earthquake and fires of 1906. They claim that they managed to save the mother sourdough starter from the fires, and they’ve been using the same starter for their bread for over 150 years now.

According to Boudin’s website: “By 1960, almost all commercial bakeries had converted their recipes to include chemical dough conditioners to shorten fermentation time while Boudin stayed true to its mother dough and long, slow fermentation process”. In 2005 a more spacious Boudin location was opened in the Fisherman’s Wharf, featuring a Cafe Bistro, museum, and a bakery tour. If you go to the Fisherman’s Wharf branch, you’ll see a long line of people waiting, specifically on weekends. Their famous dish of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl can be purchased there. Here you can enjoy this little bakery and cafe and taste their 150 years old Sourdough and other loaves of bread.

What to get here: 

Their staple bread is the Sourdough. Get the Small Sourdough Round ($2.80 for the 0.5lb – ask to have it sliced for you). You are welcome to taste this iconic San Francisco bread together with the Herring you purchased from the European Deli.

Sourdough bread in Boudin bakery SF

Other things to try here: 

Great Challah Braid, Sourdough rolls, or if you happen to arrive here before a holiday, they’re baking special holiday sourdough bread (hearts in Valentines, shamrock for St. Patrick’s day, etc.). There are a couple of outdoor benches right by the entrance that can be opened to a picnic table – perfect for making yourself a little sandwich. 

Stop 5: Keeva

Keeva indian restaurant SF

Welcome to this little Indian neighborhood spot owned and operated by the friendly Ajeet and Rita Mehta. According to Ajeet, they decided to open this restaurant to combine traditional Indian cooking with something new and fresh. And indeed, the dishes are immaculate. They make everything from scratch, and the dish you’re about to try is a real treat – Palak Chat. It’s not offered on their takeout or delivery menu since it’s their own version of street food that must be eaten as soon as it gets to the table.

What to get here: 

Just order a Palak Chaat ($9.50) – enough for 2-5 people to share as a snack. 

Palak Chaat Keeva SF

Other things to try here 

(next time you visit): Egg curry, Bhindi do Piazza, Eggplant Salan, Palak Paneer.

Stop 6: Seafood Center

Seafood center SF

This is a great neighborhood fishmonger. Family-owned and operated for 35 years now! You can find excellent quality, fresh and clean fish, seafood, and crustaceans. They’re extremely friendly; I used to get all my seafood from here for dinner parties. They give some great advice too on which fish would do well in the dish you’re planning. 

What to get here: 

Fresh fish at seafood center SF

Great variety of fresh fish and seafood. If you feel like getting something to cook at home, try one of their whole fish, ask for it to be cleaned and fillet as you like. Or go for the Day Boat Scallops – they’re the best kind and are at a great price here. Also, consider getting a live crab when it’s the season.

Stop 7: Richmond New May Wah Supermarket

New May Wah San Francisco

This Asian supermarket is well stocked with various Asian produce, frozen foods, dry goods, meat, fish, herbs, spices, etc. You’ll love this supermarket. Even if it’s your 100th time coming here, you’ll always find something new and exciting to try. It’s not a huge store, but it carries products from China, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, India, Philippines, and probably many more. The quality of produce here is outstanding, and it is known that restaurants purchase their meat and fresh vegetables from here.

What to get here: 

If you like cooking, I always recommend trying Yuzu Koshu condiment (see picture) ($6.50) or an exotic fruit like Longan or Rambutan. Please visit this post I wrote about some interesting finds you can buy in this store (there’s also a video).

Yuzu Kosho in New May Wah SF

Stop 8: Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao San Francisco

You can’t experience a food tour of the Inner Richmond without stopping in one of the fantastic Dim-Sum places this neighborhood has to offer. Most of them are takeout focused, with a few seats in the back of the store. Is the dim sum here better than the dim sum you can find in Chinatown? I think it is, mainly for the bakery-style stores. 

If you like the tea-house-style restaurants: there used to be the greatest tea-house and dim sum restaurant in the neighborhood called Hong Kong Lounge #2 (while Hong Kong Lounge #1 is run by different owners). It was tragically burnt down a few years ago and hasn’t been reopened since. People frequent the #1 restaurant more often now, which is also not bad, but dreaming about the day that HKL#2 will reopen.

The place you’re about to visit, Xiao Long Bao, can get packed, and lines can run long during peak hours and the weekends. It’s so easy to love all these delicious dumplings and baos. But not all Dim-Sums were born equal. I’ve found that each place has its own specialty and a couple of items that are exceptionally well made. You have to know what to get in each of them.

If you like dim-sum, I suggest you come back to Inner Richmond to do the “Dim Sum and Boba crawl” food tour that I will be releasing soon after this tour. This place is called “XLB” in short, for the famous shanghai soup dumpling, but I wouldn’t order these here, as it didn’t impress me as much as other things they do so much better. During the daytime, you can watch the folding of the dumplings right there in the window. So you can tell it’s all made fresh in-house and of excellent quality!

What to get here: 

“An order” of an item here is usually 3 baos or dumplings. It’s the default, but you can ask for just one bao (which will be priced individually). 

Xiao Long Bao San Francisco

Get yourself a Steamed pork bun AKA Char Siu Bao and Chive and shrimp dumplings. If you like spicy garlic chili oil, ask for some of their homemade spicy sauce (usually found on the tables, but you’ll get a small container for a Takeout). You can also get a whole jar of that excellent chili oil for your pantry (about $7). 

Other things to try here: 

So many great options here. Their house special: Shrimp, chive, egg, and vermicelli pancake; Beef pan-fried bao; I also love their wonton in chili sauce. As a vegetarian option: Monks Vegetables Bao. A couple of sweet options: Sweet egg yolk bao, Fried sesame ball.

Stop 9: Kamei Housewares & Restaurant Supply

KAmei houseware and restaurant supply san francisco

When we first considered moving to San Francisco from Israel, we visited several cities that we considered. When we got to San Francisco, I was on the fence about living here. But when I walked into Kamei for the first time, I knew that I want to live in this city. If you see the place, you’ll understand why. And so, I always brag that this place is what convinced me to move here. And indeed this store deserves its reputation. As a cook, I’d say this place is incredible, and I can spend hours going through the different tools, wares, gadgets, pans, and pots here. Even my husband can spend at least ten minutes here, so it must mean something. 

What to get here: 

My personal recommendation, and a gift I used to get each guest on this food tour, is a Kiwi knife ($3.80 per person). You can read more about why it is the best affordable chef’s knife on my previous post about the Kiwi Knives. You’ll soon be hooked and come back for more!

Kiwi knives at Kamei San Francisco

Other things to get here:

anything for your kitchen needs, from cast iron tea kettles to steaming baskets, baking tools, glass tapper wear, little kitchen tools, and any size whisk that you can imagine. Ask for help to find something specific.

Stop 10: Aroma Tea Shop

Aroma Tea shop San Francisco

For an immaculate and serene Tea Oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Clement street, make your way to Aroma Tea Shop. It’s been a family-owned business in the city for 16 years now. The owners, Haymen and Ying Wu Da Luze, opened this store to pursue what he refers to as a “Tea Utopia” with a custom-designed tea bar and complimentary tea tasting offered to customers. The store holds hundreds of teas directly imported from China, Vietnam, Japan, India, and more. Including some rare and unique varieties held under the: “Really Fancy Teas” shelf. They also mix their own custom scented and flavored teas. They do all that with a great sense of humor and excitement. Notice the unique and crazy names of some of their teas.

Aroma Tea shop San Francisco

What to get here: 

If the store isn’t too crowded, ask for a tea tasting. If the owner, Haymen, is in the store, it’s your lucky day. He’s the most charismatic tea expert I’ve ever met, and when it’s time for him to explain the difference between green, black, and oolong tea, or what’s a Pu Er tea, he’ll be providing you with the information most entertainingly and enthusiastically.

My favorite tea to try is the Blue People Oolong, but make sure to try it last, as it’s very luxurious. Other favorites are the “Really Good” Earl Gray and Reserve Grade White Tea. If you do get a tea tasting, make sure to purchase something or tip for the tasting. If you’re not a tea enthusiast, there are $5 bags of their most popular teas on the right side of the store. Another really cool gift idea to get here is one of their flavored blooming teas. It’s a ball of tea leaves and flowers tied together and dried so that when you pour hot water on it, the leaves open, and it looks like a blooming flower.

Blue people oolong tea

Stop 11: Taqueria Los Mayas

Taqueria Los Mayas San francisco

This place is nothing like any other taquerias scattered all around San Francisco and the bay area. They specialize in Yucatan’s authentic cuisine of Mexico. The first time we’ve decided to enter and try their food was when we just moved into the neighborhood and walked past the storefront when our daughter noticed a cute dog tied upfront. We had to come close to let her pet the dog, and we both found ourselves staring at a couple’s table while they were eating. They had what looked like a fabulous quesadilla. We already had lunch, but we couldn’t resist going inside and ordering that exact same thing. The quesadilla was sensational. Needless to say, we’ve been hooked ever since. The Richmond district doesn’t have that many Mexican restaurants, and Los Mayas is an excellent addition to the neighborhood. 

What to get here: 

Plantain quesadilla Los mayas

When you get here, you’d want to order something off the menu (vegetarian): Quesadilla with Plantain ($13). It’s a very generous portion. Have them cut it to as many people as you are (up to 4-5 people), and don’t forget to grab a basket with tortilla chips and try their homemade salsas from the salsa bar. Their salsas are great. My favorite is the mango salsa. The habanero salsa is smoky and pretty spicy, so watch out.  

Their quesadilla is a fantastic combination of the plantain’s sweetness, the creaminess of the sour cream and avocado, and the cheese’s savoriness, some Pico de Gallo for acidity, and it all works together amazingly. It’s one of the most loved bites of this food tour altogether by many guests. 

Plantain quesadilla Los mayas

Other things to try here: 

Panuchos are bean-filled crispy tacos specialty of Yucatan; top them with Chicken Mole (it’s excellent) or Cochinita Pibil – pork marinated in fresh citrus juice and achiote, roasted in banana leaves for six hours, a traditional Mayan dish, both are my favorites here. It’s also a great place to get a margarita or sangria. 

Stop 12: Mr. Foggy Mural

Mr foggy mural san francisco

The Inner Richmond neighborhood doesn’t have that many murals like the Mission District, but this is one exciting wall art that you should check out. It was painted in 2016 by the artist Jason Jagel. You can see the infamous fog as a character lying on top of the neighborhood’s houses. Indeed, the Inner Richmond is a foggy neighborhood, and here the artist made a character called Mr. Foggy that’s an integrative part of the area’s view. Watch the YouTube video showing the process of creating this mural and some of the artist’s comments. 

San francisco food tour

This is a great place to stop and take a picture or two. I usually take a group picture here with the knife that we got in Kamei. It’s encouraged to do the same and post the photo on Social media. Tag us: @always.tasting

Stop 13: B-star

B star san francisco Tea leaf salad

A Burmese Restaurant has been on Clement st for over 25 years. The current owners took over the restaurant 20 years ago. They turned it around to what we now know as Burma Superstar: A family business providing high-quality, unique specialty dishes of Myanmar. Other restaurants soon tried to recreate it but don’t do it as well as Superstar knows how to. The place quickly had lines out the door and around the corner. It’s still a bustling and popular no-reservations restaurant to this day.

In 2007 they opened B-Star, to take some of the overflows of traffic; plus, they take reservations and offer a unique brunch-time menu. The menu has a more fusion vibe; they do Pan-Asian food: Thai, Filipino, Japanese, and Korean influenced dishes, but the most popular Burmese dishes from Burma superstar, like the Samosa soup and the tea lead salads, are offered here as well. Since then, the Burma Superstar family keeps growing, opening branches in the Mission district, in Oakland and Alameda, their own prepared foods takeout brand, and now they’re planning on launching a beer brand as well.

What to get here: 

B star san francisco Samosa soup

This is the sister restaurant for the very famous Burma Superstar Restaurant. I’m sending you to the sister restaurant instead of the original renowned restaurant because it’s much easier to get a table here, and the dish to try is available in both places. Order the Samosa soup ($9.25 for the smaller size). It’s a vegetarian soup packed with spices and flavors. It has samosas, falafel, potato, cabbage, and jalapenos.

Other things to try here: 

if you’ve never tried tea leaf salad before, this is a great place to order that as well ($13.50). It’s a salad comprised of so many ingredients and seasoned with fermented tea leaves. All this is presented and mixed table-side. Delicious and impressive. One order of soup or salad can be enough for about four-five people as a snack. 

Stop 14: Arsicault Bakery

Arsicault bakery san francisco

It would be a great way to finish your food tour of the Inner Richmond in this tiny French Bakery, trying their award-winning croissant. In 2016, the national food magazine Bon Appétit crowned it as the best new bakery in America. The editors described its signature item as “a croissant that’s simultaneously so preposterously flaky it leaves you covered in crumbs, so impossibly tender and buttery on the inside that it tastes like brioche, and so deeply golden that the underside is nearly caramelized.”

If you’re a real pastry enthusiast, you might consider switching this whole tour and starting from this last stop, making your way to the first stop, as there’s a chance the famous croissant will sell out in the afternoon especially if it’s the weekend.

If you’ve missed it or came to find a line that stretches to the next block, you can still experience this wonder in their newly opened, much more specious branch in Civic center at 87 McAllister st.

Long lines to arsicault bakery

What to get here: 

It’s hard to visit this bakery and only order one item, but you’re probably pretty full by now if you’ve come this far. Get an Almond Chocolate Croissant ($6). In my opinion, the perfect portion of this substantial pastry is just a quarter per person. So ask for a knife and a plate to cut it. BE WARNED: It’s so buttery and flaky, so sweet and gooey, and indeed the perfect bite to finish this food tour with. 

Chocolate almond croissant and more at arsicault bakery

Other things to try here

Ham and Cheese Croissant that’s impossible to resist and the much loved Kouign-Amann, a Breton region specialty, with its buttery and caramelized sugary crust. 

Finish Line and more recs

So by now, you must have tasted some of the wonders this neighborhood has to offer, explored its unique shops, snacks, restaurants, and local gems. You probably won’t be surprised to find out there’s still much much to enjoy and explore around here. It’s such a tiny stretch of commercial area, but so packed with quality and variety of food vendors, it’s like no other place. I suggest you take your time walking around here, looking at the beautifully painted houses, soaking up the local vibe for a bit longer. If you’re here on a Sunday morning, you’ll find that the Farmer’s Market is the neighborhood’s heart and soul, with local produce vendors, food trucks, artisanal handmade goods, and some music and fun. 

Inner Richmond Food tour recs

If you find yourself here in the evening, there are some incredible food and drinks options that aren’t available during the day.

Also, don’t forget to check out more of Always Tasting Self-Guided Food Tours in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and New York (coming soon).

If you enjoyed this tour, tag us on social media, and write a comment or review:

IG: @Always.Tasting FB: AlwaysTasting

Mashav Shelef


I’m a trained chef, a food writer, a culinary traveler, a food explorer and a mom. My mission in life is to inspire and motivate people by helping them experience life through food.

Mashav Shelef

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  1. Hello! I just discovered your/this AMAZING tour online and am so excited to do it!

    Question for you: what are some of the nighttime spots you recommend?

    Hope you are enjoying Brooklyn!

    Best,
    Merryl

    1. Hi Merryl!

      Glad to read that you’re planning on taking this tour!
      If you open the google map with all the stops, you can also see a category of “More recs” where so many more places are listed in case you’re around the area for an evening night out or come back for more!

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