What is it? A walking food and drink tour of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood from Avital Tours.

Why I went? There’s a lot of food tours these days, but this one focused on a neighborhood known more for its tie-died history than its culinary authority. I don’t get to the Haight-Ashbury too often, so I wanted to see what was up in the hood.

Costs: The three-hour tour, typically on a Sunday afternoon, cost $84. I was invited to a media preview of the tour, so attended gratis.

The Stops: The tour, on this day led by food writer and blogger Virginia Miller of The Perfect Spot, gave an inside look at some new and some old favorites, including:

  • Bacon Bacon: First stop was one of the newcomers to the neighborhood, Bacon Bacon, which is one of the food truck-to-mortar bricks success story. We met owner Jim Angelus (and his cute daughter, Sloan) and tried an off-menu “piggy” taco (served up during his Tuesday Tacos pop up) and Mexican hot chocolate.
  • The Alembic: One of the area’s most popular bar, the Alembic is going through transition and is actually expanding. But we still got to chat with bar manager Ethan Terry, who served up one of the bar’s standards called the Southern Exposure.
  • Anda Piroshki: This kiosk is part of the Second Act Marketplace, which is the former Red Vic’s Theater turned into a community food commune. Anna Tvelova, owner, showed us how she made her piroshki and we ate a huge beef and cheese piroshki.
  • Second Act’s Secret Garden: Behind the Second Act is a garden used by neighbors Alembic and a few others. We chatted with Betsy Rix, owner of the former Red Vic and now Second Act.
  • The Fizzary: The second location of this unique soda shop (original shop in the Mission), we got a chance to try soda made by the owners as well as explore the hundred others from across the country.
  • The Ice Cream Bar: The last stop took us into Cole Valley, the tiny adjacent neighborhood, and the popular Ice Cream Bar to try an original Green Russian lactarct soda (created actually by Miller).

My POV: While I’m familiar with places like the Alembic and Ice Cream Bar, it was my first time to the Second Act Marketplace, Bacon Bacon and the Fizzary. So this local-focused tour company can still introduce you to something new even though you live in the Bay Area. This tour is well-thought-out with enough munching and drinking along the way to keep you satisfied and motivated to keep walking.

Get Hooked Up: To learn more about the Eat Your Drink tour and others offered by Avital, visit its website.

Virginia Miller gave some history of the area to start the tour, which began in front of the neighborhood's "painted ladies."

Virginia Miller gave some history of the area to start the tour, which began in front of the neighborhood’s “painted ladies.”

Bacon Bacon served up a pork shoulder taco that was a nice starter bite, but there were additional items to tempt you like these chocolate bacon cookies.

Bacon Bacon served up a pork shoulder taco that was a nice starter bite, but there were additional items to tempt you like these chocolate bacon cookies.

Mexican hot chocolate with bits of bacon sprinkled on top.

Mexican hot chocolate with bits of bacon sprinkled on top.

Bacon Bacon owner Jim Angelus spoke to the tour while his daughter distracted us in her pretty red dress.

Bacon Bacon owner Jim Angelus spoke to the tour while his daughter distracted us in her pretty red dress.

Popular neighborhood bar The Alembic

Popular neighborhood bar The Alembic

Bar Manager Ethan Terry updated us on the bar's expansion. He also served some delicious pickled quail eggs (the color comes from beets)

Bar Manager Ethan Terry updated us on the bar’s expansion. He also served some delicious pickled quail eggs (the color comes from beets)

Refreshing Southern Exposure cocktail made with gin and celery juice with mint

Refreshing Southern Exposure cocktail made with gin and celery juice with mint

The Second Act Marketplace has about six kiosks offering up coffee, ice cream, and spices. We stopped by the Anda Piroshki station.

The Second Act Marketplace has about six kiosks offering up coffee, ice cream, and spices. We stopped by the Anda Piroshki station.

Owner Anna Tvelova demonstrating how to fold piroshkis. Each type of piroshkis is folded into different shapes so they know what the filing is.

Owner Anna Tvelova demonstrating how to fold piroshkis. Each type of piroshkis is folded into different shapes so they know what the filing is.

We enjoyed a beef and cheese piroshki while sitting in the secret garden in the back of the Second Act.

We enjoyed a beef and cheese piroshki while sitting in the secret garden in the back of the Second Act.

The garden behind Second Act is used by Alembic as well as other nearby tenants, growing herbs and local flowers.

The garden behind Second Act is used by Alembic as well as other nearby tenants, growing herbs and local flowers.

Herbs growing in the garden. BTW, perfect weather for a walking tour!

Herbs growing in the garden. BTW, perfect weather for a walking tour!

The Second Act is in the old Red Vic Theater space, and along with the marketplace, special events are held in the old theater area.

The Second Act is in the old Red Vic Theater space, and along with the marketplace, special events are held in the old theater area.

The Fizzary soda store was a colorful spot with a lot of character and sodas.

The Fizzary soda store was a colorful spot with a lot of character and sodas.

The Fizzary owners began by making their own sodas, but now they've created a store selling artisan sodas  (and candy) from across the country.

The Fizzary owners began by making their own sodas, but now they’ve created a store selling artisan sodas (and candy) from across the country.

Tasting a special drink made with creme fraiche, dill, lemon and lactart at the popular Ice Cream Bar.

Tasting a special drink made with creme fraiche, dill, lemon and lactart at the popular Ice Cream Bar.

Always enjoy the nostalgic flavor of the Ice Cream Bar.

Always enjoy the nostalgic flavor of the Ice Cream Bar.

5 Responses to ‘Eat Your Drink’ Tour of Haight-Ashbury

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Virginia is so great, I bet she is a natural at a tour like this. I must say that hot chocolate with bacon has me curious. Who would have ever thunk? 😉

    • Ben Ben says:

      Virginia is great. Too bad she only did this special tour. Moving forward they’ll have others following the script she developed.

  2. foodhoe says:

    looks like fun! The only recent visit to that area was for an off-the-grid… Awesome to see Anda Piroshki on the list, they are a La Cocina grad!

  3. Row says:

    What a fun tour! Btw, I really dig that last photo(s) of the Ice Cream Bar… love that classic feel. 🙂