Food and Drink: 5 Great Things to Try in San Francisco

The local artisan products worth seeking out

San Francisco isn’t all burritos and Dungeness crab. In the City by the Bay, if you can eat or drink something, you can bet there is a local artisan crafting his or her own personal spin on it. Here are five of our favorite products that are either harvested or made on Bay Area soil.

 

Bread

The Mill

Head to The Mill on Divisadero Street for the latest bread sensation to hit San Francisco. Here, the aptly named free-spirited head baker, Josey Baker, hand kneads roughly 240 loaves a day with flour straight from the city’s only mill. Whole grains and a homegrown sourdough starter give his loaves an addictive pillowy middle, offset by a toothsome chew. You can bank on staples like his seeded country loaf or go for daily specials like apricot sage bread. Buy one for your picnic in Golden Gate Park or order one of The Mill’s toasts: warm slabs as thick as a sandwich, slathered with gooey almond butter, honey, cinnamon sugar or housemade jam. 736 Divisadero St., San Francisco, 415.345.1953.

 

Oysters

Hog Island Oyster Bar

The unique coastal bays of Northern California create prime conditions for oysters to flourish. The Bay Area has several indigenous varietals to compare and contrast: plump buttery Hog Island Kumamotos; full, elegant Humbolt Golds; and briny, crisp Tomales Bay oysters. And if you can get your hands on Drakes Bay oysters, try them now. Pending the final ruling of a lawsuit with the National Park Service, the days for its sweet, herbal oysters may be limited. You can try most varietals of Northern California’s finest oysters at restaurants in San Francisco, such as Zuni CafeSwan’s Oyster DepotHog Island Oyster Co. and Bar Crudo.

 

Coffee

Philz Coffee

Phil Jaber opened the first Philz Coffee 10 years ago in the Mission District with a simple mission: “to better people’s day.” Fast-forward to the present, and Philz is a thriving, family-run coffee empire of 14 outposts. Walk into Philz and find attitude-free baristas, roughly 19 different coffee blends and a homey grass-roots feeling. Newcomers should engage the barista to land on the perfect brew, which is then made for you, to-order, using the pour-over method. Thrill-seekers should go for the Tantalizing Turkish, brewed with a sprinkle of cardamom, or the Mint Mojito, an iced coffee poured over refreshing muddled mint. 201 Berry St., San Francisco, 415.875.9943.

 

Craft Spirits

St. George Spirits

Set up in a 65,000-square-foot former airplane hangar in Alameda, St. George Spirits is the grandfather of the American craft spirits movement. Master distiller Lance Winters oversees the production of every spirit category on site, from bourbon derived from popped corn to unique creations like Spirit of Long Now, distilled from pine needles. Try the funky Agricole Rum in a cocktail at Nopa, the Dry Rye Gin in an eponymous old fashioned at Bar Agricole or sip the Single Malt Whisky at Nihon Whisky Lounge. You can also visit the distillery for a tour, Wednesday through Sunday. 2601 Monarch St., San Francisco, 510.769.1601.

 

Olive Oil

The Olive Press

Get schooled on olive oil at The Olive Press tasting bars in wine country, where you’ll compare up to nine oils from Sonoma’s first mill, winners of more awards than any other olive oil in the country. Whether you’re at the storefront in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market or the bar inside the Jacuzzi Family Winery, knowledgeable staff will teach you how to taste like a pro. Don’t miss the varieties co-milled with fruits and vegetables, like the award-winning blood orange and the tongue-tingling jalapeno. To try the goods at a restaurant, hit up Park 121 at Cornerstone and order tomato-burrata salad with arbequina olive oil. 

Carolyn Alburger
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