October 11

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

By Mashav Shelef


  •  Explore the variety of flavors only the Inner Richmond in San Francisco can offer
  •  Discover bake shops, restaurants, specialty markets, and cool shops while sampling their food
  •  Read tales and stories about the ethnic food, culture, and history of this diverse neighborhood
  •  Choose between 14 different stops, or try to get to all of them if you have the time!

I used to live in the Inner Richmond neighborhood in San Francisco for almost three years, and I absolutely loved it. I used to take friends and family out there to show why I 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 I 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.

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

So are you ready? Here we go!

Inner Richmond Multi-Cultural Food Tour

We’re about to explore one of the most interesting areas in San Francisco, The Richmond. Most travelers don’t reach this area during their time in the city, and it’s unfortunate because it’s such a unique and wonderful way to experience what this remarkable city has to offer. On the bright side, fewer tourists mean fewer crowds and also – no tourist traps. It’s a real hidden gem that true food-lovers will appreciate. 

So grab yourself a buddy or two, prepare a good appetite and mood and let’s go on this culinary adventure together! Enjoy the tour.

 Before you go: 

Plan your tour: 

  • Check the different stops’ operating hours to ensure there are about 8-10 stops you can make during the tour. If you don’t have much time, choose 4-6 that you’d love the most. 
  • You can change the order of the stops if you’d like to start on the Eastern end and progress West. The tour combines sweet and savory dishes throughout the way. It is recommended to do that, especially if you don’t want to miss the last stop, “Arsicault Bakery,” before it might be sold out of the best croissant ever. 
  • The tour lasts anywhere between 2.5-4 hours. It’s really up to you and how many stops you want to visit. 
  • The tour fits best for a group of 2-5 people. But you can enjoy it alone (and pack all your leftovers!), or on a bigger group of up to 8, and then follow the portion section to make sure you order a good amount of food.

When is the best time to go? 

  • Best times to start the tour to maximize open stops and minimize lines: are Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday. Be at the starting point between 10 AM-11 AM. 
  • If you only have the weekend or want to start a bit later, I suggest Friday, Saturday or Sunday, start anytime between 10 AM-1 PM but take into account places might be more crowded. 
  • Sunday morning is the Neighborhood’s Farmer’s Market day. If you’re going on a Sunday, it’s a great addition to the end of the tour!

More important info: 

  • Bathrooms available at Stops: 1, 5, 11, 13, 14 
  • Plan on budgeting around $20-$30 per person for the essential food cost for this tour, and more if you’d like to try more things and get some groceries. 
  • The walk is relatively easy, with no steep hills to conquer. Just 0.8 miles from first to last stop, and another 0.8 miles to walk back to the starting point. 
  • It’s encouraged to take leftovers with you; there are so many stops, you don’t want to fill up with the food in the first 2-3 stops! Just keep it in mind and pack the leftovers after you’ve tasted some. 
  • Have fun and enjoy the delicious food! 
  • Any questions before or after your tour? Contact me here.

What to bring? 

  • Bring some cash; some stops are cash only or credit card only accepted for larger purchases. 
  • Bring a tote bag – you’d probably want to buy a few groceries or other interesting items along the way! 
  • Bring a water bottle or get a beverage at one of the stops. 
  • Don’t forget your phone charger! 

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

Introduction:

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.

Below is a short history of how this neighborhood came to be what it is today. The second part of the history can be found mid-tour. If history isn’t your thing and you just want to enjoy the food, that’s fine too! Just jump to the next step and start!

A Short History of the Richmond District

The Richmond District lies between the Presidio and Golden Gate Park and runs west from Lone Mountain to Ocean Beach. Up to the 1860s, very few people lived in the foggy sand that is now the west part of the city. Only in the next five years, some recreational facilities started to open in this area. Traveling west to visit the beach and view the sea lions on Seal Rocks became a popular weekend recreation. This area was called the “Outside Lands” as it wasn’t a part of the city just yet. To this day, the yearly music festival in Golden Gate park is called “Outside Lands” for that reason. In 1866, the west part of the peninsula became officially part of San Francisco, which led to the building of Golden Gate Park. The park brought more visitors and some transportation lines but not a lot of settlements. In the early 1880s, a nucleus of a growing residential neighborhood formed along Clement Street from Arguello to 6th Avenue. The Richmond experienced slow but steady growth over the next twenty-five years, as the land was available and inexpensive. The city built new streetcar lines to deliver passengers to the park, beach, and Sutro Baths. It was the 1906 Earthquake and Fire that induced a speedy development to the neighborhood. The displacement of thousands of San Franciscans downtown and a refugee camp in the middle of the Richmond district brought new settlers to the area.

Stop 1: Express Pupuseria

Info:

4715 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

+1 415-666-3534

M-S 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM (Closed Sunday)

Bathrooms available
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.

A little bit about Pupusas:

Pupusa is the national dish of El Salvador. It’s a griddle cake made from cornmeal and stuffed with different ingredients such as cheese, vegetables, beans, and pork. It resembles the Venezuelan and Colombian Arepa. 

Pupusa Revuelta in express pupuseria SF

Stop 2: First Korean Market

4625 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

+1 415-221-2565

Open 7 days 9 AM-7 PM

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. 

A little bit about Kimchi:

Kimchi is the staple food of Korean cuisine; Kimchi is a must in every meal. The most common Kimchi is made from cabbage: salted and fermented, and season with different spices. Here you can find two types of Kimchi: “fresh Kimchi” and “fermented Kimchi.” The fresh Kimchi is the one you can see in the Banchan bar. It is made fresh every morning, so it doesn’t have enough time to ferment, and it tends to have a more subtle and light flavor. The fermented Kimchi is found in jars in the fridge behind, and it’s very similar, only fermented for at least three weeks. Its flavor is a lot more intense, and it carries a lot more beneficial bacteria, which makes it more healthy. Which Kimchi tastes better is a matter of personal preference.

A little bit about Kimbap:

Kimbap (also known as Gimbap) is a traditional Korean appetizer or snack. Looks a little bit like a sushi roll, but I’d say it’s more like a sandwich. You get a whole meal out of eating a Kimbap: rice, seaweed, some pickles, some vegetables, and a protein. It’s very filling, and in every bite, it combines so many textures and flavors, which makes it so fun and delicious to eat. Kimbap is not usually eaten with soy sauce like a maki roll. I suggest trying a piece of Kimbap with a bit of Kimchi. It definitely gives it some spiciness and a big punch.

Kimbap (Gimbap) in First Korean Market

Stop 3: Gourmand European Deli (2024 update: sadly closed)

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

399 10th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

www.boudinbakery.com

+1 415-221-1210

Open 7 days 6 AM-8 PM

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. 

A little bit about sourdough starters:

There are many techniques to bake bread; using commercial yeast is one of them, but for Sourdough, we’ll be using wild yeast in the form of a “starter” or “mother dough” to create the leavening process required to make bread. It’s basically just flour and water mixed together and exposed to the air. Since wild yeast is in the air, the yeast increases and makes a colony in the starter. When the colony is most potent, we can use the starter for the slow proofing of dough instead of commercial yeast. Every place has different strains of wild yeast in the air. Therefore, every area has its unique sourdough flavor created by a different variety of yeast found in the air that the starter was exposed to. This is the reason that Boudin, with its 150 years old starter, might be considered the “real” San Francisco’s sourdough taste.

Stop 5: Keeva

Info: 

908 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

www.keevasf.com

+1 415-742-4010

Open Tue-Sun 11am-2pm and 5pm-9pm (closed Monday)

  • Bathrooms available
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. 

A little bit about Chaat: 

Chat is a name for street food in India. It usually comprises something savory and deep-fried topped with three elements that balance all the flavors: Creamy yogurt, sweet and tart tamarind sauce, and spicy-tangy cilantro chutney. Keeva’s version for this street food is their Palak Chat, meaning spinach Chat. They use baby spinach dipped in chickpea flour batter deep-fried per order and served to the table crispy and topped with the three condiments: yogurt, tamarind, and homemade cilantro chutney. You can, and should, ask for the chutneys on the side as well so that you can enjoy adding those throughout your meal.

Palak Chaat Keeva SF

Other things to try here 

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

A little more History of the Inner Richmond

Now that you’ve reached Clement st, you’re about to walk east all the way from 10th Ave to Arguello Blv (which is the first Ave). It’s a great spot to stop for a few minutes and read a little more about the neighborhood’s history. Also, see the pictures of the streets in their early days and notice how they’ve changed over the years. 

For years, the Richmond families were primarily of Irish and German ancestry, with a large Jewish population. In the 1950s, Chinese-American families began moving west from Chinatown. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the Russian community in the Richmond swelled. 

Today we can see a unique multicultural diversity of communities here: Chinese, Irish, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, and so many more. The food scene reflects that diversity well, making this slight stretch a true multi-culture culinary experience in the city.

Stop 6: Seafood Center

831 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

https://www.facebook.com/clementseafoodcenter/

+1 415-752-3496

Open 7 days 9:30am-5pm

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: 

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.

Fresh fish at seafood center SF

A little bit about “Day Boat Scallops.”

There are two ways to fish and harvest scallops: go into sea in a big boat for an extended fishing trip or fish for it on a short day-long fishing trip. When the scallops are being harvested in one of these long fishing trips, they’re treated with a solution of water and sodium tripolyphosphate, or STPP, which preserves them as soon as they are harvested at sea. This is why they’re called “Wet Scallops.” 

The day-boats return on the same day, and thus, the scallops are left untreated and are also called “Dry Scallops.” They are usually more expensive, but they’re worth it! 

The wet scallops both contain preservatives, and you’re paying for that extra water weight. Most importantly, they’re practically impossible to brown and caramelize nicely in a pan, no matter what try. They extract the water once heated. Wet protein = no caramelization possible. 

This is why you should purchase the day-boat dry scallops if you’re going to pan-sear them or want to eat them raw. Get the wet scallops (or frozen kind) for when water isn’t an issue, like cooking a seafood paella, a stew, or the famous San Francisco dish Cioppino.

Stop 7: Richmond New May Wah Supermarket

707 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

+1 415-221-9826

Open 7 days 8:30am-7pm

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).

A little bit about Yuzu Kosho:

I’m a big yuzu fan. If I had to choose just one thing to get in the whole store, it is this Yuzu Kosho condiment. It’s made by fermenting green chilis with the peel of the yuzu citrus. The result is a super fragrant, spicy paste that makes everything taste sharp. You’ll mostly find it used on top of sushi in an omakase dinner. It also works great with vegetables, meats, cooked fish, marinades, salad dressings, and anything that can use a good flavor punch.

Yuzu Kosho in New May Wah SF

Stop 8: Xiao Long Bao

625 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

xlb.netlify.com

+1 415-666-3998

Thursday – Tuesday: 8am – 4pm

Wednesdays: Closed

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). 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). 

Xiao Long Bao San Francisco

A little bit about Char Siu Bao

Hong Kong is home to the world-famous Char Siu Bao. These buns are made with rice flour and found everywhere in Southern China, rather than the wheat-based flour that is a staple of the warmer climes of the North. The resulting slightly thinner wrapper allows the irresistibly sweet barbecue pork filling at the heart of this dumpling to take center stage. There are two major kinds of cha siu bao, the traditional steamed version and a baked and glazed version. Which one is better is a matter of personal opinion, but my opinion is that you have to know where to order the baked version and where you should opt for the steamed version. The best in either category must have a thinner wrapper and a good moist, delicious pork filling.

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

525 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

+1 415-666-3699

M-S 10am-5pm (closed Sundays)

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!

A little bit about the Kiwi knife:

My affair with Kiwi Knives goes back to 2012. I first learned about a Kiwi knife when interning in a Paris restaurant after finishing culinary school. I’ve met Rob, a classmate, who showed me his Kiwi Knife that he’s been using in a restaurant’s kitchen where he works. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but I struggled with using heavy knives from the school’s knife-set. I have small hands. Most knives are designed for men. They are uncomfortable, bulky, take much effort to use, and hurt my wrists after no time. When I found the Kiwi knives section in an Asian market in Paris, it was love at first slice. 

Kiwi brand knives are a Thai brand of extra sharp and light-weight multipurpose kitchen knives. You can find these in many Asian kitchen-ware stores in the US, Europe, or even online. And the best part is that they cost just $3-$10 apiece. There’s a whole set of different types and sizes of these knives, the most common and my personal go-to is the 6-inch pointed blade.

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

302 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

www.aromateashop.com

+1 415-668-3788

Open 7 days 10:30-6pm

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

331 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

www.taquerialosmayassf.com

+1 415-548-2800

Open 7 days 10 AM-9 PM

Friday-Saturday 10 AM-10 PM

  • Bathrooms available
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. 

Plantain quesadilla Los mayas

What to get here: 

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. 

A little bit about the controversy of Cochinita Pibil and Mayonnaise:

“On June 30, 2021, a small group of purists protested outside the National Palace in Mexico City. Many have expressed their taste for mayonnaise as an ingredient to a cochinita sandwich or “torta” in Spanish, one of the most popular snacks in Yucatán. Apparently, this is a total sacrilege for many Yucatecan, who claim that this dish should be eaten only with bread (typically a type of baguette), marinated onions, and habanero pepper.” (source)

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

Corner of 3rd Ave and Clement st, CA 94118

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

A little bit about the name of the neighborhood – The Richmond

In the early 1880s, a nucleus of a growing residential neighborhood formed along Clement Street from Arguello to 6th Avenue. After being frustrated with the generic “Outside Lands” name used for years, residents and real estate men began calling the area “Richmond.” One story for the origin of this new name is that early settler George Turner Marsh called his large home and grounds at 338 13th Avenue (now Funston Street) “Richmond House” because the landscape reminded him of his hometown of Richmond, Australia. (Other sources credit a neighborhood booster named George Fletcher for suggesting the name.)

By the 1910s, a local improvement group worried the neighborhood would be overshadowed by the rise of the city of Richmond, CA in the East Bay, had the neighborhood’s official name changed to “Park Presidio.” So it was called in newspapers and many city records throughout the 1920s, but “Richmond” stuck with people. Only in 2005, the city changed the name officially back to “The Richmond District.” (Source)

Stop 13: B-star

127 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

www.bstarbar.com

+1 415-933-9900

Friday/Saturday/Sunday 11AM-3PM

Thursday-Tuesday 4:30 PM-8:30 PM

  • Bathrooms available
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. 

A little bit about Fermented Tea Leaves in the Burmese Cuisine:

Lahpet is Burmese for fermented or pickled tea. Myanmar is one of the few countries where tea is both consumed as a drink and as an eaten delicacy, in the form of pickled tea, which is unique to this region. Laphet is regarded as a national delicacy that plays a significant role in Burmese society, and remains a traditional Burmese gesture of hospitality and is served to guests visiting a home. (Source)

Stop 14: Arsicault Bakery

397 Arguello Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

arsicault-bakery.com

+1 415-750-9460

Open 7 days 8 AM-3 PM 

Saturday-Sunday till 3:30 PM

  • Bathrooms available
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!

  2. Just letting you know that the address for stop #2 is incorrect. It’s listed as the same address as the last stop. The have no idea what the correct address should be.

    The European Deli is also closed down.

    Fun way to explore the area!

    1. Hi Jamie
      Thanks for your comment, hope you enjoyed the tour! I just corrected the address on the map, thanks for pointing that out! and so sad to hear the deli is closed permanently. It will be missed!

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