THE WESTERN ADDITION neighborhood of Hayes Valley is nestled between the historic districts of Alamo Square and the Civic Center. The borders are generally defined as north and south of Hayes Street between Webster and Franklin streets, though realtors stretch those boundaries a little to include the desirable moniker in listings. Architecturally, you’ll find large new luxury buildings abutting public housing complexes, with Victorian and Edwardian houses peppered throughout. It’s a unique blend, especially considering the area these days is famous for high-end shopping, fine dining, and proximity to concert venues, including the War Memorial Opera House, SFJAZZ Center and Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. Originally developed in the 1850s, Hayes Valley was named in 1856 after Colonel Thomas Hayes, a wealthy landowner, and county clerk. Streets with large houses were named for influential local citizenry; those with smaller homes bear botanical names such as Lily, Ivy, Linden, and Hickory.
1. Little Gem
All the produce served here is naturally raised and free of additives, preservatives and chemicals. The bar, shelves and ledges are made of reclaimed American elm from a single tree in Marin. littlegem.restaurant
2. Welcome Stranger
This men’s boutique sells camping provisions, heritage brands like Filson and Barbour, and other wares, grooming products and home goods. welcomestranger.com
3. Monsieur Benjamin
The Parisian-bistro-style eatery specializes in traditional French cooking, with ingredients like duck confit and bone marrow. monsieurbenjamin.com
4. Boxing Room
Open since 2011, Boxing Room offers Cajun and Creole dishes (including alligator) and New Orleans cocktails like the hurricane and the Sazerac. boxingroom.com
5. Blue Bottle Coffee
Expect a constant line at this trendy cafe. Operating out of a garage since 2005, it’s the chain’s first location. bluebottlecoffee.com
The menu features French-and Northern Italian–influenced brasserie fare for lunch and dinner, plus weekend brunch. absinthe.com
7. Gimme Shoes
This store is known for its well-curated collection and wide variety of Fiorentini + Baker shoes for men and women. gimmeshoes.com
8. Chantal Guillon
Here you’ll find handcrafted French macarons in classic and unique seasonal flavors. Macaron parties and workshops can be arranged. chantalguillon.com
9. Rand + Statler
This five-year-old boutique sells modern designer clothing for men and women and also features a full Aesop body-care product store. randandstatler.com
Where To Eat
Aside from the restaurants mentioned, other popular area eateries include Chez Maman, Corridor, Dobbs Ferry, Domo, the Grove, Jardiniere, Lers Ros Thai, Mazzat, Papito, Petit Crenn, Rich Table, Suppenküche, Souvla, and Straw.
Where To Park
The best bet is the Performing Arts Garage at 360 Grove Street, between Gough and Franklin streets. Neighborhood parking is by permit, allowing guests two hours max. Other parking is metered.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Hayes Valley”.
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.