Let’s get one thing straight—there is no ‘best’ food tour in San Francisco. This fabulous city is famous for many types of cuisine, so there are going to be reasonable disagreements about what qualifies as ‘best’.
With this in mind, the Travel Consultants at Extranomical Tours have put together a list of exceptional tours covering a variety of food types. We asked them to consider whether the tour was currently active and taking reservations, the quality of reviews by guests, affordability, even personal experiences from having done the tour themselves.
So, if you are a food lover and considering a trip to San Francisco this year, we hope this list will get you started on a great trip.
Here are our ten best San Francisco food tours for 2022:
- Mission District Small Group Mural Art and Food Tour
- The Laotian Luncheon
- Ferry Building and Farmers Market Tour
- Chinatown Small Group Walking Food Tour
- Big Sippin’ in SOMA
- Food, History and Resistance in Japan town
- Hands-On Happy Hour
- Market Tour, Cooking Class, and Seasonal Lunch
- North Beach Small Group Walking Food Tour
- Corporate Team Building Event
***Disclaimer: Extranomical Tours operates several of the tours reviewed in this post***
Mission District Small Group Mural Art and Food Tour
On this San Francisco walking tour, your small group will explore the Mission District murals, handicrafts, and some of the best Mexican food in San Francisco. There are non-stop images to capture in what is, perhaps, the oldest and most intriguing neighborhoods in San Francisco. There’s plenty of art to ponder at the Clarion Alley Mural Project, the Women’s Building and other street scenes. Local resident guides will also make four delicious stops to sample locally crafted street tacos, hand-made chocolates and organic ice cream. Finish in Dolores Park taking in the city views and relaxing with locals on the grassy lawn.
Why we picked it: Art, history, culture…not a second is wasted on this deep dive into the Mission.
Know before you go: No gluten-, dairy-free option. Involves 1 ½ miles walking on mostly flat streets. Minimum of 4 guests.
Schedule: 3 hours. Departs on Sundays at 10:30 AM.
Cost: $69.00 per person
Book this tour: Mission District Small Group Mural Art and Food Tour
The Laotian Luncheon
This interactive food and beverage experience featuring Lao cuisine is hands on and delicious. You are not just tasters but makers of a papaya salad with pounded shrimp, chilies, lime and bright spices. Then, be guided by a mixologist to create the perfect craft cocktail pairing for your salad. The main course is a feast of Laotian BBQ feast of spicy sausages, crisp chicken wings, fresh vegetables, and sticky rice.
Why we picked it: Guided by experts, you make it, then enjoy every bite.
Know before you go: Vegetarian option available. Private groups, request a reservation online.
Schedule: 2 hours. Flexible start times.
Cost: Approximately $150 per person
Book this tour: The Laotian Luncheon
Ferry Building and Farmers Market Tour
San Francisco’s Ferry Building, once a water transportation hub, has happily evolved into pavilion for the Bay Area’s food artisans and host to three weekly farmers’ markets. Guided by a food industry professional, you will sample handmade French macarons from Miette, who Conde Nast Traveler named one of the top ten pastry shops in the world. The tour continues with legendary spring rolls at Out the Door, then on to Berkeley’s Acme Bread, Imperial Tea Court, Gott’s Roadside, and more.
Why we picked it: Tour includes a food history of San Francisco’s waterfront and a nice variety of local food artisans.
Know before you go: With pre-arrangement, we can arrange for any special dietary needs.
Schedule: 90 minutes. Departs 10:00 AM Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Cost: $77 per person
Book this tour: Ferry Building and Farmers Market Tour
Chinatown Small Group Walking Food Tour
This friendly, small group food tour walks the streets of Chinatown to see local attractions, cultural artifacts and restaurants from Dragon’s Gate to the Zodiac Wall.
The tour includes stops to sample authentic Chinese foods at four celebrated locations.
Enjoy freshly baked treats at the Chinese Fortune Cookie Factory, boba tea in mysterious Ross Alley, moon cakes at the Garden Bakery, and a feast at the House of Dim Sum.
Finish by toasting your new friends with an exotic tea of your choice.
Why we picked it: Small group tour. Skips lines for service at most restaurants.
Know before you go: Minimum of 4 guests. No gluten-, dairy-free option. Involves ¾ of a mile walking on mostly flat streets.
Schedule: 2 hours. Departs Saturdays at 10:30.
Cost: $69.00 per person
Book this tour: Chinatown Small Group Walking Food Tour
Big Sippin’ in SOMA
Learn, drink, and celebrate craft beer in San Francisco’s South-of-Market (SOMA) neighborhood. On this crawl, to three venerable microbreweries or beer bars, you will go behind the scenes and meet the brewers. Your guide explains the role each destination plays in the local craft beer scene and offers a little education as you enjoy generous samples of each locally made beer.
Why we picked it: Make new friends on this super-friendly tour.
Know before you go: Groups should designate a non-drinking driver or use ride-sharing service at the conclusion of the tour.
Schedule: 4 hours. Departs Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 PM.
Cost: $99.99 per person
Book this tour: Big Sippin’ in SOMA
Food, History and Resistance in Japantown
This tour has history, artwork hidden in plain sight, dining and shopping recommendations, all in the nation’s oldest Japantown. This audio tour production by a Japanese-American, honors the community and offers historical context as a counter-weight to anti-Asian bias. Set your own pace as you see the Mihara family’s historic origami shop and art gallery, stand at several locations where Japanese families once boarded buses to concentration camps, visit a tea shop and try freshly ground matcha from Kyoto.
Why we picked it: Wonderfully informative audio tour that’s flexible and a great value.
Know before you go: Requires a digital phone to play audio.
Schedule: Approximately 90 minutes. Flexible start time.
Cost: $6.99 for the guided audio tour download.
Get the tour: Food, History and Resistance in Japantown
Hands-On Happy Hour
Go behind the bar for a cocktail master class in San Francisco! A host will keep your private group engaged with cocktail history, trivia, games, and more! A perfect outing for birthdays, wedding parties, or team building. Each guest will receive instruction from a professional mixologist and then craft two different style cocktails (1 shaken, 1 stirred). Tour includes robust bar snacks to go with your beverages.
Why we picked it: It’s a party!
Know before you go: The experience requires a minimum number of participants. Contact the tour operator to guarantee booking.
Schedule: 90 minutes. Flexible start times.
Cost: $125 per person
Book this tour: Hands-On Happy Hour
Market Tour, Cooking Class, and Seasonal Lunch
You must be curious about how a chef goes about choosing their ingredients? And planning a four-course, seasonal meal. If that’s true, you will love this opportunity to discuss menu options based on the season of the year, shop with Chef James at a local farmer’s market for fresh ingredients, and then be instructed in the preparation a four-course lunch back at his home.
Why we picked it: Making a meal with a master chef in their home is truly a unique experience.
Know before you go: You are welcome to bring beer or wine to the lunch. Minimum of 6 guests.
Schedule: 4 hours. Offer daily at 12:00 PM.
Cost: $175 per person
Book this tour: Market Tour, Cooking Class, and Seasonal Lunch
North Beach Small Group Walking Food Tour
Explore the culinary highlights and cultural history of San Francisco’s North Beach aka “Little Italy”. The super-friendly, small group tour walks the historic streets and makes delicious stops at celebrated neighborhood restaurants. Sip espresso at an old haunt of the Beats—Café Trieste. Savor cheeses selected by the staff at Molinari’s deli before biting into award-winning pizza on Washington Square. Finish with an Italian cannoli that will leave your taste buds dirty dancing.
Why we picked it: Perfect balance of history, local street scene and amazing foods.
Know before you go: Minimum of 4 guests. No gluten-, dairy-free option. Involves ½ mile walking on mostly flat streets.
Schedule: 2 ½ hours. Saturdays departing at 1:00 PM
Cost: $69.00 per person
Book this tour: North Beach Small Group Walking Food Tour
Corporate Team Building Event
This private food tour is a great opportunity to get your team outside of the office or remote locations and hit the streets to taste delicious treats from classic San Francisco favorites, amazing ethnic eateries, and the newest pop-up spots creating a buzz. Enjoy a discussion of the local history and make five delicious stop to explore food and drinks and all without waiting in lines.
Why we picked it: What team member doesn’t like food? The hosts are very accommodating of special requests by your group.
Know before you go: Tour requires a minimum of 8 guests. Contact the tour operator about availability.
Schedule: 4-5 hours. Flexible start time.
Cost: $89 per person (+$12 to add alcoholic drinks)
Book this tour: Corporate Team Building Event Tour
Gary Lillian is an advisor to Extranomical Tours which has led more than 10,000 guided tours in Northern California in the last 10 years. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, holds a master’s degree from Kellog Graduate School of Management, and is a recognized subject matter expert in marketing and customer experience engineering.