How I Eat San Francisco: Central Market Food Tour
San Francisco neighborhoods are just like people. They evolve, grow bigger, grow tired or are born one day and become the center of attention. A four-block area above Little Saigon, west of Union Square and south of Nob Hill, with it's flourishing dining scene of freshly mashed avocado toast, banh mi sandwiches packed to the brim with different kinds of meat, croissants falling in love with muffins making the aptly named cruffin and cocktail bars serving made-to-order waffles, is just that, the center of attention. To help us navigate this new hotspot, we enlisted the help of foodie and lifestyle writer, Tina Johnston (@tina), to tour us around and show off her favorite places to eat and drink.
Jane on Larkin (925 Larkin St.)
Jane on Fillmore opened its doors in 2011, making a name for itself serving top quality coffee, breakfast and lunch with an emphasis on healthy, quality foods. The first location became so popular that they opened up another, bigger location on Larkin in March of 2014. This location does everything the first one does and bakes all the bread and pastries (both sweet and savory). Tina's Take: I love meeting up with my friends over brunch here. I always get the Avocado Mash, which is sourdough toast topped with mashed avocado, pickled jalapenos and shallots, topped off with a soft-boiled egg.
Hero Shop (982 Post St.)
A block from Jane on Larkin sits Hero Shop, an exciting, innovative engaging fashion and lifestyle concept store. Hero Shop offers a carefully edited and accessible mix of ready-to-wear jewelry, shoes, bags, home, gift and tech items. The perfect birthday gift can save someone's day and you can buy it at Hero Shop. Tina's Take: The neighborhood is always changing. Last time I was here it was just an empty storefront.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (1042 Larkin St.)
If you've ever walked up and down Larkin Street and noticed a line out the door, it's for the Mr. Holmes Bakehouse cruffin, the croissant/muffin hybrid. The bakehouse seemed to blow up overnight, not just for the aforementioned cruffin, but also for the delightful "I got baked in San Francisco" neon sign you gaze upon as you enter. Other things on the menu are the le donut, a cream-filled confection, the strawberry jalapeno brioche bomb and various danishes. Tina's Take: When people see the line, they think it's the line to get into the bakery. However, it is a line to just get the cruffin. If you want anything else, you can walk in and grab it. Don't be intimidated.
Saigon Sandwich (560 Larkin St.)
Not everything costs an arm and a leg in San Francisco. Case in point, Saigon Sandwich, a mom and pop Vietnamese counter selling this Vietnamese classic for less than $5. There are a couple of options, such as chicken and roasted pork. But for the ultimate experience, spring for the special combination. It has roasted pork, steam pork and pate packed with cilantro, jalapenos and carrots. Tina's Take: I know this place is unassuming, but during lunch, there's a line 10 deep. Don't worry it goes fast. Remember to bring cash, because they don't take anything else.
Louie's Gen-Gen Room (871 Sutter St.)
How does Liholiho Yacht Club, the super successful and super yummy restaurant that's taken San Francisco by storm, follow up? They open up their basement and serve inventive cocktails with a menu full of freshly made waffles. Oh, and it's reservation only. That's how you follow up. Tina's Take: Grab the seat nearest the door, because it has the best view of the open counter. Order up the bone marrow brown butter or okonomiyaki waffle. Pair that with the Campari-based endless summer cocktail and you're set.
This itinerary is the perfect addition to your trip to San Francisco. Now, ready, set, eat.