Polk Street

WITH ITS DIVERSE mix of bars, shops, restaurants, longtime establishments and exciting newcomers, Polk Street is easily the liveliest and most dynamic thoroughfare in Russian Hill. Getting its name from the 11th president of the United States, James Knox Polk, the two-mile street has changed significantly in atmosphere over the past 50 years. In the 1960s and ’70s — before the Castro reigned as the city’s major gay locale — Polk Street held the distinction. Only one vestige of that era remains: the Cinch Saloon (the second oldest surviving gay bar in San Francisco), between Washington and Clay streets. Today the neighborhood vibe is upscale yet eclectic, with specialty boutiques, intimate watering holes and fine-dining eateries dotting the street. We’ll home in on the stretch that’s closer to Marin, between Vallejo and Filbert streets.

1. PARLOR MINI SPA Launched last January by Corte Madera’s Michelle Clark, this spa offers quick (but not rushed) 30-minute treatments. parlorminispa.com

2. FERME A PAPIER Cat Seto, a San Francisco–based designer and illustrator, opened this stationery shop that also sells candles, calendars and other goods. fermeapapier.com

3. TONIC Wednesday night trivia, guest bartending opportunities, creative cocktails and weekly specials keep this bar full every night. tonicbar-sf.com

4. SAINT FRANK COFFEE Founded in 2013 by Kevin Bohlin (formerly of Ritual Roasters), this two-level coffeehouse delivers singleorigin pour-overs in a bright, Scandinavian-inspired space. saintfrankcoffee.com

5. LA FOLIE Mill Valley’s Roland Passot, a James Beard Best Chef in California winner, opened this establishment in 1988. He later opened Left Bank Brasserie in Larkspur as a casual alternative. lafolie.com

6. RUSSIAN HILL BOOKSTORE Established in 1993, this family-owned bookstore offers new and used books, games, cards, gifts and more. russianhillbookstore.com

7. ROYAL OAK Since 1975, the cash-only bar has been delivering competitively priced drinks in a cozy atmosphere of plush velvet sofas, Tiffany lamps and ferns. 415.928.2303

8. LES CENT CULOTTES Parisian chef Sophie Legendre is behind this two-level shop that carries women’s and men’s French undergarments and sleepwear. lescentculottes.com

WHILE YOU’RE THERE Beyond our map, wander down and nab a steering wheel–size doughnut at Bob’s (open 24 hours, at 1621 Polk Street) and check out all the nearby consignment stores, including Polk A Dot, Cris Consignment and ReLove.

WHERE TO PARK Street parking is metered and can be a bit dicey; if you can’t find a space try Express Parking garage at 1650 Jackson or the Lombardi Parking Garage at 1600 Jackson.

Kasia Pawlowska

Kasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include travel, trends, mushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is never-ending.