Emerging bleary-eyed and slightly disorientated from the plane, I stepped out into the cool, misty morning air of San Francisco after a short flight from LA. It was seven o'clock and after an early start I was starving with only one thing on my mind – breakfast! After figuring out the San Francisco public transport system, the next hurdle to overcome was what to eat. The choice is dazzling in this city where food innovation is reactive, frenzied and – above all – exciting. Luckily I had done my research (with a little help from an ex-San Franciscan) and headed straight for the Mission District where a new wave of bakeries have opened their doors and quickly established themselves as some of the best in San Francisco.
Tartine Bakery is just one such example and has won a host of accolades including one of America’s coveted James Beard Foundation Awards for Outstanding Pastry Chef. It isn’t uncommon to see lines of locals queuing around the block, all vying for the in-house bakery’s delectable selection of freshly-made sweet and savoury treats. Venture to the back of the restaurant and you will be rewarded with a sneaky glimpse of the bakers hard at work, making sure everything is baked to perfection in the industrial-sized ovens. I couldn’t resist the frangipane croissant: crisp, buttery layers of flaky pastry encasing a sweet almond cream delicately scattered with flaked almonds.
The Mission District is worth further exploration if you have more time as it is one of the most interesting places to discover San Francisco’s unique and eclectic food culture. One of the district’s most well-known culinary claims to fame is as the birthplace of the Mission-style burrito (or San Francisco burrito) – a foil-wrapped burrito of epic proportions filled with rice, beans and various other ingredients, all of which is held together by an impressively large tortilla.