Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

This legendary factory in Chinatown has been hand-making about 10,000 fresh fortune cookies a day since 1962 and was originally founded by Nancy Chan (her son Kevin now manages the factory). Fortune cookies are, of course, not originally from China (there are different origin stories, though many agree they were likely invented in Japan), but the confections were widely popularized by - and have become closely associated with - Chinese-American restaurants. Every time I come here, I’m mesmerized watching the large rotating cast iron griddles that achieve each cookie’s signature thinness and crunch. The fortune cookies at the factory far surpass what you usually get at Chinese restaurants: they’re extra crispy and have a nice vanilla scent. But I usually opt for the green tea-flavored ones, or the chocolate-dipped, sprinkle-covered variety, which always sparks joy and reminds me of birthday parties. Interestingly, the most popular cookies here are the ones without any fortune at all: the flat cookies, which are little crunchy discs ideal for snacking. You can also customize the messages inside for anything from party favors to secret love notes.

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