Experiencing somewhere new through the lens of its food and drink culture is one of the best – and most delicious – ways to get acclimatised. You'll also get to explore different neighbourhoods, meet locals, and start to understand what makes the city tick.
San Francisco is a city obsessed with grass roots culinary ventures, from small organic restaurants and street food to farmers markets and food trucks, and prides itself on originality and quality. It's no surprise then, that a number of companies have sprung onto the scene eager to share this bounty with tourists, including the three we're highlighting here today...
Bay Area Brewery Tours
Bay Area Brewery Tours offer public or private bespoke tours for beer enthusiasts to visit some of the top breweries in the nation, with the opportunity to taste many of their award-winning beers.
You can opt for a tour that focuses on the city itself, visiting highly-regarded local outfits like the Speakeasy Brewery in south San Francisco, Magnolia Brewery in Dogpatch, or the ThirstyBear Brewing Company in SOMA. Or you can venture slightly further afield, with visits to breweries in Marin County and as far north as Sonoma.
Public tours are available from $85 from Fridays to Sundays, with three different breweries visited per tour.
Bluxome Street Winery
A century ago, more than 100 wineries flourished in what is now known as San Francisco's South of Market (SOMA) district. Bluxome Street Winery is reviving this 100-year old San Francisco industry with the establishment of their own working winery just a few blocks from nearby AT&T Park and the Caltrain station at Fourth and King Streets.
The 2,500 square foot event space features huge windows which overlook the working winery, and up to 300 guests can enjoy watching the winemaking process unfold. All the fruit for the wines made here is sourced from cool climate regions within 100 miles of the city. Visit the tasting room between 1pm and 8pm on Tuesdays to Sundays, to enjoy wines by the glass, by the flight, or by the bottle, along with a selection of savoury snacks.
Gourmet Walks run a 7-stop walking tour through the elegant Victorian neighbourhood of Hayes Valley, with breaks for seasonal ice-cream, gingerbread cupcakes, and artisanal charcuterie to name but three of the culinary diversions on offer. There's also a three-hour Downtown Napa tour featuring breakfast tacos and Mediterranean appetisers, in addition to two extremely popular chocolate excursions, including the ULTRA chocolate tour which features wine pairings and a chocolate cocktail.
The newest of Gourmet Walks' tours is a three-hour Gourmet Japantown/Fillmore outing which makes stops at seven local shops and restaurants, sampling some of the most authentic local cuisine and street food from five different food cultures - Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese and Indian. Snack on potato curry puffs and banh mi sandwiches while knowledgeable guides share recipes, cooking tips and stories about the growth of Asian cuisine in San Francisco. This tour runs on selected Saturdays and costs $80 per person.
Advanced tickets can be purchased at Gourmet Walks.
Virgin Atlantic operate daily direct flights to San Francisco from London Heathrow.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.