Cool Nights: Summer Nights in SoMa

If the only things you remember about San Francisco’s SoMa district are its loft apartments and nightclubs, it’s time for a revisit. In recent years the area, which spans from the Embarcadero to 11th Street between Market and Townsend streets, has become a culinary hub, showered with approval from some of the top food critics around. Plus, the summer season is the perfect opportunity to catch a ball game and support fellow Marinite Tim Lincecum as he pitches for the Giants.

On Townsend, chef Jennifer Puccio brings the skills she wowed diners with at Cortez to the new Marlowe. The menu’s emphasis is clearly meat—the restaurant’s moniker is even a reference to owner Anna Weinberg’s great-grandfather’s Boston butcher shop of the same name. Can’t-miss items are the grilled lamb with crispy parmesan and ricotta dumplings and the Marlowe burger, a caramelized onion, cheddar and bacon masterpiece S.F. Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer recently called one of the best in the Bay Area. However, the menu’s vegetarian items are what can only be described as weird genius. Both the bourbon and smoked salt toasted pistachios (served in a mason jar, naturally) and the crispy Brussels sprout chips coated with Meyer lemon and sea salt are under $6 and among the most inventive pre-ballpark snacks around.

Still on Townsend toward Third Street, secure a spot on the sofa at District for a pre-game glass and happy hour dollar-priced oysters. If bivalves don’t please your palate, opt for the wine bar’s cheese selection: three-, five- and seven-cheese assortments from California stars like Cypress Grove Creamery, Red Wood Hill Farm and Fiscalini Farm.

On Fourth Street at the Fifth Floor, Gordon Ramsey–trained chef Jennie Lorenzo is breathing new life into the iconic restaurant. With a surgeon’s attention to detail and an artist’s eye, she crafts dishes that are some of the most beautiful in the city. Choices include à la carte options and a six-course tasting menu for around $70. Among single dishes, opt for the halibut presented with black trumpet mushrooms and baby leeks. Start with a Grapefruit Vesper cocktail from mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout and end the meal with the signature sundae made with chocolate pudding cake, popcorn ice cream and malted foam.

If you can spare time in between bites, some of the best designer discount shopping can be found in SoMa. On South Park stop in at Jeremy’s, which has been called a “mecca for fashion hounds” by Frommer’s and one of the “top ten coolest places to shop in America” by MSN. The place has deals on Prada, Zegna and Valentino, but the selection of shoes, including Christian Louboutin and Chanel finds, is where the discoveries are. Also on South Park, Isda & Co. has an outlet where shoppers can score simple dresses for about $10. Look out for the store’s occasional 25 percent off sales where even the sale items get the additional markdown. Beware: the outlet is closed on Sundays and shutters before 6 p.m. most days.

The SoMa district is larger than most in San Francisco, but with a full stomach, shopping bags in hand and a break for a Giants game, wandering the urban terrain could be just the staycation you were looking for.

The Details

AT&T Park  24 Willie Mays Plaza

District Wine Bar  216 Townsend Street

Fifth Floor  12 Fourth Street

Isda & Co. Outlet 21 South Park

Jeremy’s  2 South Park

Marlowe  330 Townsend Street


Although SoMa is easier to park in than some other districts, take these tips anyway—you never know. There are two parking lots on Brannan Street that offer a $10 rate for the evening, as well as Safeway’s Beacon garage on Townsend and Fourth, charging $3 for 20 minutes. If you’re willing to search, street parking on Brannan is free after 6 p.m. When heading to the ballpark you can find parking at UCSF’s Mission Bay garage on Owens and Third for $3 an hour or Impark at Pier 30–32 for $5 an hour. If you’re up for a good 15- to 20-minute walk you can find free parking at 16th and Third or on Townsend between Fifth and Seventh.