Live Shots: Avital tours Mission District food hotspots

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Photos by: Bowerbird Photography

It was 11:30am on a Saturday morning, and we were tipping back salty oysters and chasing them down with sweet pink rhubarb cocktail, and then, just because pig meat tastes so good, ate some wonderfully cured, sliced Southern ham. The day was off to a great start and just kept getting tastier as our little posse made its way through the Mission, led by our knowledgeable and ebullient guide, Avital of Avital Tours.

She described her name as sounding like “Advil” and “Tylenol” mixed together, perhaps also hinting of the hangover and pharmaceutical cure we might need unless we paced ourselves on the drinks. Avital organizes food and wine tours in San Francisco, and specializes in discovering special local eateries that may be off an SF local's radar.

There was a little of everything on the tour: local cuisine, history, talks by the chefs or restaurant owners, and even a little hands-on cooking stuffing mini meat pastries. Avital is an expert at pairing foods and balancing the tasting options. A super-energizing coffee sampling came at a perfect time, providing a needed lift after the morning cocktail and a delicious beer and cheese adventure.

As we meandered through the streets, Avital narrated our journey with interesting anecdotes about the history of the neighborhoods and murals that decorate the Mission, giving even me, a native San Franciscan, some insight into the neighborhood. The tour ended with ice cream sandwiches on the steps of Mission High, looking out over the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Dolores Park.

We climbed to the top of those steps after our three-hour culinary adventure, and felt a sense of accomplishment not unlike how hikers feel after reaching the summit of a mountain. Eating and drinking ourselves silly takes work, and we felt perfectly contented to just sit there, loosen our belts, and soak in the sunbeams. What a nommy day!