We love playing tourist in San Francisco – it’s such a FUN city to explore, walk, eat, shop… and people-watch! One of our latest adventures took us to Chinatown for the day. We headed over to the Fortune Cookie Factory – it’s been around for over 40 years and today it’s still a popular tourist attraction. Did you know that Fortune Cookies originated here in San Francisco? What better place to see how fortune cookies are made – it’s a fascinating process. And sample them too – I’ve never been a lover of fortune cookies (I do like the fortunes inside), but these are fresh, crispy and delicious. The small narrow shop only holds about 10 people at a time, so it’s no surprise to find a line out the door, especially on weekends and during peak tourist season.
Don’t expect to spend much time inside – they like to keep the line moving. And if you want to take pictures, there’s a 50-cent fee (hey, they gotta make a living!) If you have a sweet tooth, bags of different flavored fortune cookies (plain, almond, chocolate…) are available for purchase.
It’s fun strolling through Chinatown, jam-packed with little restaurants, dim sum parlors, Chinese markets, antique stores and more shops than you can count. Our next stop was a Free Tea Tasting at Vital Tea Leaf in the heart of Chinatown – they carry over 400 varieties of teas. Who knew that tea tasting could be so much fun! This is a “must-do” in Chinatown, esp if you’re a tea lover. Modeled after a wine bar, Vital Tea Leaf offers visitors complimentary “try before you buy” tea tastings – it’s the best deal in Chinatown. And if you’re entertained by Uncle Gee or Ming, they really make the whole tea tasting experience so much fun! Learn about different teas – how they look and what they smell like before (and after) being brewed, how to brew them (we were brewing our Green Tea totally wrong) health benefits to the body and mind – and fun tea facts. It’s even more fun if you go with several people – a perfect outing with friends and family. There’s no pressure to buy anything – it’s just an enjoyable experience all around. If you don’t want to carry anything around with you, you can always order tea online when you get home. One of our favorites is the Green Coconut Tea (good for relaxing) – what’s your favorite?
Another fun thing to do if you’re visiting the city (even if you’re a local) is to take a FUN Chinatown Walking Tour – with friendly, knowledgeable and experienced guides, uncover the secrets of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Depending on the tour, you may visit the Fortune Cookie Factory, a Herbal Pharmacy, enjoy sampling a variety of teas at a Tea Tasting, learn about Chinatown’s history and architecture, stroll among the Food Markets, indulge in a 10-course Dim Sum lunch or a delicious dinner, and visit a Chinese Temple and other historic landmarks.
Tell us about your experiences and recommendations in San Francisco’s Chinatown – what do you like to do and what are your favorite restaurants?