San Francisco: America’s Latest Culinary Capital
HANK THE DOT-COM CREW. The Bay Area’s climate and the edible, quaffable bounty it yields, its enlightened attitude to agriculture, farm-to-table pioneers such as Alice Waters and its multicultural population have blessed it with phenomenal food for decades. But in the past few years, the wealth generated by the tech boom has helped kick San Francisco’s culinary scene up another gear. As housing prices have soared (property is now more expensive per square foot in the city than anywhere else in America), new restaurants that offer innovative eating in casual settings – white tablecloths don’t go with the hoodies beloved of Mark Zuckerberg and his ilk – have emerged.
Add farmers’ markets, avant-garde bakeries, some of the best Mexican food north of the border, ice-cream emporia that would give Willy Wonka the willies and you can see why the locals claim San Francisco’s food has never been better. Chefs are moving from New York to the West Coast, rather than the other way around, and the chat on the buses that shuttle techies from their city apartments to their Silicon Valley HQs is all about what’s for dinner.
El Farolito – A predominantly Latino area since the Forties, the Mission is now a hipster haven of fancy bike stores, vintage boutiques and coffee shops, but it’s still the place to go for a taco or a burrito. Everyone has a favourite taqueria, whether it’s a traditional joint or a nouveau spot such as Tacolicious. My pick is the divey, old-school El Farolito, one of nine locations, at the bottom of still-grungy Mission Street, with its palm trees, pawnshops and dollar stores. Order the pitch-perfect taco camitas: steaming-hot, juicy without being greasy, with just the right amount of herbs and spice.