This week we’ve featured Avital Ungar’s insiders guide to San Francisco. As the founder and owner of Avital Tours, she knows a few things about the Bay Area good life. Avital first became serious about the finer points of life while living in Paris and the quaint town of Aix-en-Provence in Southern France. After drinking wine at three in the afternoon as per the cultural norm and gorging her way through the countryside, Avital returned to the United States and began reading “Wine for Dummies” with the hope of adding an academic wine approach to her informal wine education. Now, years later, Avital is a certified sommelier.
A Phi Beta Kappa UCLA graduate, Avital studied Art History, French and Mandarin Chinese but wishes she could have majored in Chocolate. Returning to her hometown of San Francisco after living in Shanghai working in the Chinese Contemporary art market, she began to pursue her interest in art and food professionally. She has been leading artisan food and wine tours for the past six years. She has served as a judge at the International Chocolate Salon, the Best of the West Rib Competition and was most recently featured on the Travel Channel and CNN.
It is no surprise that this is not a typical tour company! The walking food tours are built by locals, for locals. Avital’s goal is for someone who lives in the Mission, for example, to join the Mission Food Tour and learn something about his or her own neighborhood – all while exploring his or her own backyard through curious eyes. Avital Tours takes guests back in kitchens, spending time chatting with chefs and restaurant owners, and creating unique food and alcohol pairings – and above all to tell guests the stories of the people behind the food that shapes a neighborhood! No doubt, if you are out on a tour with Avital, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind experience! All of that said, Avital has shared her Haute guide to San Francisco:
Where were you born: I’m a Bay Area native (Burlingame, CA)
How long in San Francisco: 6 years in the city proper – I currently live in Nob Hill!
Favorite restaurant: I’m not really a monogamous restaurant dater. Basically our food tours are a combination of my favorite restaurants!
Best place for brunch: Mission Beach Cafe
Best place for lunch: Mission Cheese – go for the (California) Gold!
Best place for cocktails in SF: There’s lots of amazing cocktails in SF – how about our Union Square Cocktail Tour?
Best Sushi: Ichi Sushi but I enjoy Tataki as well!
Best Pizza: Tommaso’s – It has soul and boasts the oldest pizza oven on the West coast from 1935!
Best Place for late-night Dining: Hog & Rocks in the Mission or if I’m in North Beach, 15 Romolo or for Late Late Nights Sam’s Burgers
Best place for dessert: I have such a sweet tooth, so it depends on the evening and neighborhood – but Dandelion Chocolate and Bi Rite Creamery in the Mission, A. Cavalli Cafe for cannoli in North Beach and the Ice Cream Bar in The Haight.
All-around favorite locale in San Francisco I’m going to be totally cliche and say Crissy Field – I love the view of the Golden Gate Bridge