Mission District Food Tour–Amanda Corsiglia

Posted on January 23, 2014

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My stomach growled as I turned the corner onto 24th street. We had just been to our first stop on the food tour, Mission Minis, and my mouth was watering at the anticipation of what was to come. As we strolled down the busy street I began to notice the little charming aspects of the neighborhood. Growing up in San Francisco, I thought nothing of the gorgeous architecture or the bustling pedestrians that walked by, but of the little things: the hanging decorations in the trees, the beautiful murals that embraced almost every corner of the neighborhood, and most of all the comforting message written in yellow tape along a chain link fence “the beginning is always tomorrow”. I was dumbfounded by its beauty in the normalcy of a parking lot-I felt like a tourist in my own city.

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I almost stepped on the heels of another member of our tour as we came to a halt out front of Wise Sons Deli. Wise Sons Deli is relatively new Jewish Style Deli whose wooden paneling and open windows invite you to come eat, drink, and stay for a while. At first glance, you can tell they live up to their motto that is painted above their door: “Quality. Cleanliness. Service.” These three simple words are cliche, but surprisingly refreshing. I have noticed these days that a lot of restaurants get caught up in trying to be trendy and hip, not Wise Sons. They know what really matters in the food biz.

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Taking it all in, you can’t help but notice the various picture frames that line the entire left wall of the deli. As I made my way over I realized that these photos were no less than 50 years old, some even older. This instantly made me feel like I was in a friends living room, rather than a deli-I had to find out who these people were.

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We migrated outside and began to wait while a young waitress brought out our samples. It was a very simple pastrami sandwich on homemade rye bread.

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Photo credit: Maureen Kaprosch

Once I took a bite the saltiness of the pastrami made my mouth immediately water while the pastrami glided down my throat like a waterfall soaking the rocks beneath it. Pastrami sandwiches are my go-to sandwich at deli’s but sometimes the meat can be a bit chewy and almost too salty, like a wet towel after a long day at the beach, but this was just right. The pastrami wasn’t chewy at all, in fact it was so light and buttery that it barely took any effort to chew it. Then their homemade mustard was brought out. I am usually not a fan of mustard but what the hell? I was glad I embarked on the mustard adventure- the tang of the mustard hindered the saltiness of the meat as multiple flavors danced on my tongue. As we were finishing our samples, we were lucky enough to run into one of the owners-Evan Bloom. He was a surprisingly humble, young fellow who spoke with us about his business, food and strategy. What really stuck out to me was when asked about how his business is so successful he simply said he was just lucky. When he was finished speaking, I asked him about the old photos on the wall. His response lighted my heart and everyone around me as he said “they’re our family.” As you left the restaurant, that’s what you felt like: family. As my legs began to weaken from the two hours of walking we had already done, we stepped into Pig & Pie.

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Pig & Pie is known for their Braadworst and baked goods by Butter Love Bakeshop (hence the name Pig & Pie). The restaurant looked like many of the restaurants we had seen-very rustic, with chalkboard menus and wooden tables, but somehow the charm of the place provided something new-I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was the combination of comfort foods that put me at ease or the friendly waitstaff, who knows. All I know is right when they put our sample in front of me I couldn’t wait to take a bite.

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The simple dish was a perfect fit for this mound of meat because it didn’t distract you from this enormous tidbit of a meal. Unfortunately I do not prefer the taste of souerkraut so I scrapped it off, but the meat and warm sourdough bun filled my mouth with a delicious spice and pork flavor I have never quite experienced before. I am usually quite sensitive to spice, but the sourdough bun lightened the intensity of it, giving it a flavor that tingled my taste buds, but no so much where I felt like I needed to drown my mouth in water. Once I finished my sample I spied something that was off our set menu-a “red velvet twinkle”.

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Its loud red outside called to me like a Greek siren as I stared at it through the glass-I had to taste it. I went and purchased it from the counter and as I brought it back to my table I saw all mouths water and eyes stare me down with jealousy. As I split it in two to share with a friend, the creamy white filling spilled onto the plate like hot lava.

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The fluffy red volcanic rock was fantastically light as the cream cheese filling dulled the sweetness of the red velvet cake filling. It was heaven in a cake.

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