You are bored, you don’t know what to do today. Maybe you’ve traveled to San Francisco on business 5-7 times and while you like the Ferry Building and have tried out that new quinoa place, you’d like to explore a new neighborhood without feeling like you’re alone as others around you clink their freshly squeezed juice glasses cheersing.
Well, you’re in luck, Hayes Valley might be the place for you. For a quick little hour detour you can grab a latte, stop for a snack and get a little shopping in before heading off to your next adventure. For context, Hayes Valley is an area in SF but specifically between about and street on Hayes you will find the main strip of boutique businesses. Citizens of the area are known to especially dislike the idea of any corporations moving in and putting another outpost in their franchise here so you’re guaranteed some very unique, more special experiences. Below is a quick picture tour and some highlighted must-sees with addresses in case you’re looking for more specific info. By info I mean just snacks while you’re on your little jaunt. Bonus! Everything around here is about a five minutes walk from each other.
Here are some of my top picks….
Where: 398 Hayes Street.
Here’s the thing. The food here is pretty good but the bar is where it is at. When I say this is my jam I mean you should get a cheese plate and make sure they have jam on it. Between this and the soft and spicy chickpeas, you’re best off stopping in here en route to dinner or for a late night cocktail. It’s got a good cozy wine library feel to it.
Where:449 Octavia Street
Imagine a turn of the century tea salon. Now imagine in with quirky candy. Now imagine it with a bar of chilled cakes and macarons. Now imagine they have a happy hour during the week where macarons are $1. I think you know why I come here.
Smitten Ice Cream
Where: 432 Octavia Street
So the obvious draw here is that they pour a liquid into a bowl and use liquid nitrogen to freeze it before your very eyes. The not so obvious draw is that they combine their awesome flavors with local favorites like TCHO chocolate and create something that is not only unique but true to the neighborhood. I highly recommend this and a little espresso from the Ritual Coffee Outpost on the other side. Heck, combine them and make an affogato.
Mid Afternoon Snacks.
20th Century Cafe
Where: 198 Gough Street
I’m kindof cheating here, this one is off of Hayes so I’ll call it my bonus pick. From perogies to thinly rolled struedels this is the best stop for a satisfying snack. Most items are small and filling making them the perfect snack. My suggestion: Order perogies, their famous Russian Honey Cake and if you still have room an open face everything bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese and pickled onions. The New Yorker in you will feel much better. If you find yourself itching for more of an activity, walk down a block or so to Kit Tea, SF’s cat cafe. You don’t even really have to pet the kittens – there is a full tea shop inside but be honest with yourself, why would you not pet the kittens?
Where: 555 Folsom Street
We like this as a quick stop. Though it holds odd hours it’s always worth it for a banh mi or something else to tied you over until dinner time. In their own words you can find Vietnamese rolls, bowls and banh mi here…which sounds like you just can’t go wrong.
Sorry, I got overzealous, there are no shopping snacks, this is just shopping.
Where: 508 Hayes Street
This is a great place to get your Rifle Paper Co. fix, grab candles, cards or other odds and ends. Stop and smell the candles.
Where: 560 Hayes Street
This is not a store store as it will but it is one of those rare sake exclusive stores. You can buy by the bottle or glass and they have a great selection. It’s a great way to mix things up if you’re on your way to a dinner party rather than getting another bottle of wine…which of course isn’t the worst of plans either.