Not your typical food tour, not your typical street.
Enjoy the best of a neighborhood redefining traditional cuisine...
Join Explore San Francisco, on a stroll through one of our favorite San Francisco neighborhoods. A little less than a mile from start to finish, this walking tour takes you down Polk Street from Russian Hill & Nob Hill & through the Polk Gulch, straight into the Tenderloin. From the moment we start, it's all down hill, except for that one hill in the beginning, but figuratively it's all down hill. We travel past the thresholds of eateries that serve the rich and famous, into historic businesses that survived the earthquake and fire of 1906 and visit some of the best food dives in the city, and we mean dives. We also stop at places that aren't dives, and that have fantastic food, diversity is what it's all about. Along the way, you will be treated to some of the best food, perhaps, or at least some of the best food that comes out of a questionable kitchen or two.
It has been said that tater-tots are the new tapas. How about tater-tots served in a dark bar named after a Clint Eastwood movie? Brilliant right? You'll see a bar made famous because it was the center of a cocaine distribution ring, run by transexuals. Eat at a restaurant that became famous as a bordello, the food's okay but the owner doesn't come out of his office until the restaurant closes. There was once a dentist who made lots and lots of money removing people's teeth and performing oral surgeries, until it was found out that he wasn't a dentist at all! You will have the chance to have a beer in the establishment that now is his namesake.
In recent memory, the Polk Gulch was the gritty male prostitution area of San Francisco, bars with names like The White Swallow, Bottom Half, Hunks, Cinch, Sha-Boom, N'Touch and Male Box lined the street. Frankly we miss those days, but don't ask any of the uneasy shop owners about that era, because they're not talking. The best donut in all of San Francisco is still here, made one at a time, and the same people that were here during the gay hustler era, still run the place- happily secure in their safe donut world.
Because this street was never as glamorous as some of it's neighbors, the food movement here has grown slowly but organically, with the owners of most eateries serving the public alongside their staff. Because the street scene here has always been quirky and sometimes on the fringe, the eateries here really run the gamut. There are a couple of newcomers in the hood that are head and shoulders above the rest, and we will also take you there. But this neighborhood cannot shake it's past, and it doesn't put on any airs, it is what it is. It's restaurants serving food from all over the world, next door to dive bars serving tater-tots, an old donut shop, and a great place for happy hour named after a convicted felon.
You will hear some colorful stories from a San Francisco native, you will eat some good food, and some pretty good food, and have a beer to wash it all down. We love this neighborhood, for all of it's grit and it's grime, it's real, it's interesting, not too dangerous, and it's fun. But don't wander off on your own.
Polk Street was named for President James K Polk.
Fun Facts About President Polk,
US President during the 1849 California Gold Rush
Polk was almost 5' 8" tall on a good day.
Polk owned many slaves.
President Polk was one of only three
Presidents that didn't have any children.
Polk signed the bill that created the Smithsonian Museum.
Postage stamps were introduce while he was president.
His wife Sarah started the tradition of the band playing
"Hail to the Chief", whenever he would enter a room. Why?
Because Polk was so incredibly short that no one ever
noticed him in a crowd. If the song would play then people
would know he was there even if they couldn't see him.
Mexico broke off all diplomatic relations with the
US right after Polk was elected. He declared war
on Mexico, took the California Republic, annexed the nation of Texas, threatened war with Britain over the Oregon Territory.
He was a feisty short guy with a bad attitude.
He believed that a President should not engage
in leisure activity until his term was over.
He banned hard liquor and all dancing in the
White House. He eventually ruined his health
from constant work while in office.
He died of
exhaustion only three months after his term ended.
He is the President that "Manifested Destiny"
Explore and enjoy Polk Street, the street named after
the first President to have his picture taken while in office.
And the first president to be on a postage stamp.