The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 7 December 2012

San Francisco Day 3: Chinatown, Fortune Cookie Factory & Mission-Style Burritos @ El Farolito

This post is a bit of a photo dump, as I am determined to be done with blogging about our August trip to the US before we go to Australia next week over the Christmas holiday (it doesn't help that in addition to trip preparations, I'm always busy at this time of the year). The following photos document our trek through San Francisco's Chinatown (the largest outside of Asia, and the oldest in North America), and hubby's mission to try out the famed Mission-style burritos (aka San Francisco burritos) out in the Mission District itself. Without much further ado, here is a taste of what we saw and did on our third and final full day of our time in San Fran.


Early in the morning, we walked to Chinatown from our hotel via the quickest route, and that route didn't bring us through the Dragon Gate that we'd walked by late in the evening on Day 1.

Our route to Chinatown from our hotel brought us through Stockton Street Tunnel:

Downtown San Francisco is quite hilly, and many streets have very steep inclines:

Yummy-looking Chinese bakery goodies:

We dropped by the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory:

Inside the factory, there's a sign that says "Hello! If you take a picture, please pay 50c". Here you can watch three women deftly fold discs of warm cookie dough around slips of paper containing fortunes written in English and French. This is a process that needs to be done quickly otherwise the cookie will harden before it has the right shape:

Samples available for visitors to try:

We bought a big bag of fortune cookies for US$4.50, and it lasted us many weeks after we returned back to Hong Kong:

An amusing observation - here is Stockton Street in Chinatown (with the distinctive Transamerica Pyramid in the background), which is less frequented by tourists but represents a more authentic Chinese atmosphere with fresh produce and fish markets, Asian grocery stores and restaurants...

... in contrast to Grant Avenue (where the historical Dragon Gate is), with souvenir stores, mini-malls and restaurants that are obviously catered more to tourists than the local Chinese. This street is cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing, and there are even red lanterns strung overhead:

Mission-style Burritos @ El Farolito in Mission District

After wandering through Chinatown, we made our way to the The Mission for lunch. We took the BART to the 24th St Mission station, and hubby led the way to a popular taqueria called El Farolito which was highly rated and reviewed for the giant burritos. This area had a distinct ghetto feel, and I wouldn't want to hang around on my own or after dark. Nevertheless, we could still enjoy lunch and a leisurely walk through the neighbourhood afterwards.

Inside El Farolito right near the back of the narrow dining area, looking out towards the entrance:

Complimentary basket of corn chips:

Cheesy Quesadilla for the boy (only half is shown):

A Super Burrito:

We chose shrimps for our choice of meat:

The Super Burrito comes with rice, beans, fresh tomato, onion, cilantro, salsa, cheese, sour cream and avocado:

The Mission-style burrito was huge, and one was enough to fill us both up. It was satisfying and enjoyable, and we understand why this is a popular style of burritos.

El Farolito
2779 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
United States
Tel. +1 415 824 7877

El Farolito on Urbanspoon

Apparently the Mission District is also known for its street murals, and we saw several during our short walk around the area:

After our quick lunch, we hopped back on the BART bound for Fremont, which was about an hour's ride away. There we were met by Steph's dad, who drove us to San Jose where we met the some of Steph's family for dinner. We were treated to fantastic hospitality for that few hours, even though I had only met Steph's dad once before earlier this year. That four hours with Steph's family, particularly her dad, did much to sweeten our experience in California. A post on that family dinner is to come shortly...

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