San Francisco, Part 4

My final day in San Francisco. This post is mostly pictures, reflecting my day of walking around. I had a blast!

Walking down yet another hill towards Chinatown Walking down yet another hill, this time towards Chinatown.

Chinatown signs Chinatown signs

Big feet Big feet

Quails Quails

Feet More feet

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DSCF0538I love that funky, stinky smell of dried fish.

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Sausage bun and egg tartMy two favourite Chinese bakery treats: chewy sausage bun and flaky egg tart from Wa Li Bakery on Stockton Street.

Haha, my beloved durian! Haha, my beloved durian!

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DSCF0534Don’t go for the produce that everyone else has poked and squeezed already! Get your veggies from the box UNDER the display.

For lunch I headed back into the CBD to find the Bacon Bacon truck at the corner of Mission and 1st Streets. There were three food trucks parked in the narrow alleyway, the Tandoori Chicken Mobile, Bacon Bacon and The Old World Food Truck (east European and Jewish food). I only had eyes for Bacon Bacon.

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Bacon Bacon truck Bacon Bacon truck

I carried my food to a nice courtyard nearby where office workers were eating their lunch. I got two things: Porky Fries (USD$7) – fries topped with lashings of pulled pork shoulder, juicy nuggets of pork beilly, bacon (of course!) and Mama Lil’s peppers; and a burger called the LGBT (USD$9)- with Little gem lettuce, Goat cheese, Bacon and Tomato. SO MUCH PORK AND BACON. Even just the aroma was arresting. I really enjoyed this!

Fries The Porky Fries were a meal on their own. It was only when I sat down to eat I realised I didn’t have a fork. Oh well, medieval style it was – I had napkins!

LGBT LGBT – Little gem lettuce, Goat cheese, Bacon and Tomato. The bacon was nicely cooked, and there was a lot of it.

Bacon Succulent pork belly chunks.

Truck StopIt’s easy to miss the Truck Stop signs if you’re not looking for them.

TrainI caught the train to the Mission District.

I love street art/public art, and after lunch, I caught the train to the Mission District to check out two alleys famous for their murals. First, Clarion Alley. The Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) was founded in 1992 and over the years, has supported and facilitated hundreds of artists in the creation of murals. Not all of the artwork appeals to me personally, but the creativity and thoughts represented on these walls are worthy of appreciation.

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Over the years, the gentrification of the Mission District has seen a lot of change in these working-class, predominantly Latino neighbourhoods. Housing prices and rents have skyrocketed and long-term small business and residential tenants have been forced out. Sadly, many of the artists who helped create this remarkable alley of murals can no longer afford to live here. Just with this mention I’ve only scratched the surface of a highly contentious and complex issue. One of the Clarion Alley artists, Megan Wilson, has written about the impact of gentrification on the Clarion Alley Mural Project. Also see this recent New York Times article: Gentrification Spreads an Upheaval in San Francisco’s Mission District.

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DSCF0706There is art all over this neighbourhood, if you care to notice. This is painted on the side of The Apartment, a vintage furniture shop on the corner of 18th and Lexington Streets.

DSCF0707-1This stunning mural called ‘MaestraPeace’ is painted on two exterior walls of the Women’s Building on 18th Street. I just couldn’t do it justice with my photographs.

I took a wander around the neighbourhood and went into Bi-Rite Market in search of their famous ice cream. But there was none…

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…because their ice creamery is across the street! I chose two scoops – salted caramel and roasted banana. There are even more sweet treats at Bi-Rite’s bakeshop next to the ice creamery, but the ice cream was enough for me. This was probably the nicest of the salted caramel ice creams I ate on my travels in the US.

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DSCF0733Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop menu.

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I then made my way to Balmy Alley for more murals. Balmy Alley was an inspiration for the Clarion Alley Mural Project. The first murals were painted here in the mid-1980s and were an expression of the artists’ outrage over human rights abuses and social struggles in Central America. These days, new murals are painted regularly, capturing a diversity of themes. I love how the artwork isn’t just on walls and fences, it’s taken over doors and windows too.

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DSCF0772There are three coffee shops on a street – #1 coffee shop sells organic rosemary lavender lattes for $16. At coffee shop number two, you can ‘order your coffee on your iPhone’. Coffee shop #3 has punters queueing out the door. A cop drinks a takeaway ‘Starsucks’ coffee. The sign in an apartment window reads ‘FOR SALE – $51,000,000 – call Rich White Realty’.

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Back in Union Square for dinner, I walked to Katana-Ya on the corner of Geary and Mason Street. It’s a dark, crowded hole-in-the-wall and you usually have to put your name on a list and wait for a table. I got lucky with my timing and was able to walk straight in for the second-last free seat at the bar. I ordered karaage chicken ramen. The fried chicken was well seasoned but served submerged in the broth, so it was soggy from the start. The shoyu (soy sauce) broth had a good flavour, but the noodles were quite soft, missing the curly bounce I like my ramen noodles to have. A restorative bowl of comfort that hit the spot after a day of walkabout, but I’ve definitely had better ramen back home.

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I really liked San Francisco and would return again without hesitation. That night, I packed my suitcase. Next destination: Cody, Wyoming.

Mentioned in this post

Bacon Bacon
I got lunch at the food truck, but these guys have a Cafe too.

Clarion Alley, Mission District
Located between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets.

Balmy Alley, Mission District
Located between 24th Street and Garfield Square.
Find out more at the Balmy Alley website.

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street, Mission District.

Katana-Ya
430 Geary St, San Francisco

My solo USA trip (2014) – about this series

I travelled alone to the United States from late July to mid-August. This trip covered California, Wyoming and Colorado. The primary reason for the trip was to attend a couple of workshops, one on hot air balloon photography and the other on photographing wild horses and cowboys. I also caught up with an old school friend.

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  • Katie

    Great post but what on earth were the “big feet”?