a North Beach picnic
●La Palma Mexicatessen 2884 24th St./Florida St., Mission District. No cards. All that’s needed for a picnic feast is a can of refried beans, a few avocados, and some handmade corn tortillas freshly cooked on huge griddles in the back of the grocery. Or just order up a made-to-order taco or burrito. And don’t forget to pick up some fresh tamales and Salvadorean papusas (tortillas stuffed with cheese and spicy pork) to take home. Mexican and Central American cooking supplies and colorful, inexpensive piñatas are also available.
●La Victoria Panaderia 2937 24th St./Alabama St., Mission District. Take a tray and tongs from the counter, then browse the tantalizing pastry display at this panaderia. Choose a jelly roll, a pastry horn filled with lemon custard, a macaroon, a soft concha (a sugared roll), a fluffy Ninos Embueltos with jam and coconut, a slice of tres leches (three milks) cake—or any of the other traditional pastries and cookies. In October you can get pan de muerto for Dia de los Muertos celebrations. Drinks, fresh tortillas, tamales, pinatas, and Mexican condiments are also for sale. A small restaurant in the back has an inexpensive menu written completely in Spanish. Salsas are particularly tasty.
●Lucca Delicatessen 2120 Chestnut St./Steiner St., Marina District. Owned by the same family since 1929, this deli prices its made-to-order sandwiches by weight. Housemade salads, handmade bread sticks, and a large selection of Italian wines are also available.
Say Cheese 856 Cole St./Carl St. This very small shop is crammed with almost 300 kinds of cheese as well as made-to-order sandwiches, salads, pâtés, crackers, cheese spreads, and fresh cookies. It is located a hop, skip, and big jump from Golden Gate Park.