Alex Cohen's unusual bat mitzvah party. (Cohen is in the bottom row, second from right.)
Alex Cohen's unusual bat mitzvah party. (Cohen is in the bottom row, second from right.)

Celebrating her bat mitzvah with a food tour of the Mission

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

Alex Cohen of San Francisco celebrated her bat mitzvah in a bit of an unorthodox way last weekend. Instead of leading services on Friday night, she took 22 members of her extended family, including her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, on a food tour in San Francisco’s Mission District led by Edible Excursions founder Lisa Rogovin.

It wasn’t a specifically Jewish-themed tour, but in light of the occasion, Rogovin made sure lots of Jewish touches were baked in.

“The instructions they gave me were open-ended, but given that it was for a bat mitzvah, I took it upon myself to think what’s the tie-in here,” said Rogovin, who is also Jewish.

The family began in the private room of Tacolicious, where they said Hamotzi over challah from Arizmendi Bakery and then ate brisket tacos. Bi-Rite Market offered up smoked trout on Wise Sons bagel chips along with a citrus tasting, and on a stop at Tartine, the group shared pastrami sandwiches on Tartine bread. Pizza at Arizmendi and ice cream at the Jewish-owned Smitten capped off the evening.

Rogovin’s company offers both public and customized private tours.

Cohen says she likes food a lot — she doesn’t like the word “foodie” to describe herself because she finds it pretentious — so it was the perfect way to kick off her celebratory weekend.

The teenager, who had taken friends on an Edible Excursions food tour of the Ferry Building for her birthday party last year, suggested the idea of a food tour to her mom as a way to celebrate with out-of-town family.

For Cohen, celebrating her bat mitzvah in this fashion wasn’t that out of the ordinary.

“I’m not a traditional person, so the idea of a regular Shabbat dinner wasn’t appealing to me,” she said. “This was more interactive, and with Edible Excursions, you get to learn about the history of the places and the food you’re eating.”

Her independent bat mitzvah ceremony the next day at the Slovenian Hall was pretty traditional, she said, though it was catered by Tacolicious.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."