Itinerary

Jazz, Schnitzel, and the Original Blue Bottle in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley

by Liz Shemaria

posted on February 17, 2019

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Oft-overshadowed by the nearby Haight-Ashbury, Castro, and Mission districts, Hayes Valley is one of those San Francisco neighborhoods that you could easily miss if you don’t know about it. A hidden gem with its own distinct character, it gets its name from Hayes Street, a stretch of six blocks where you’ll find boutiques from vintage to high-end, some of the city’s best ice cream and coffee shops, and enough restaurants — from sushi to schnitzel — to eat your way around the world for days. Some of the globe’s best musicians pass through here to perform at SFJAZZ Center, and you’ve probably seen what could be California’s most famous houses — the Victorian-era Painted Ladies — on a postcard. (Technically these homes are next door in NOPA, but we’ve added them in since they’re only a short walk away.) For the best of Hayes Valley, follow this one-day itinerary.

Dainty china and marble countertops bring old-world charm to this understatedly-elegant cafe. Eastern European sweets and savories will have you dreaming of a trip to Prague; in the meantime, sip your coffee, nibble that cake, and take a deep breath.

Checkout: Linzertorte, 10-layer Russian honey cake, bagel with smoked salmon, potato knish

Photo courtesy: poegirl22

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Walking Distance

0.17 miles

Don't let the alley location (the first one) deter you, because this is a kickin' kiosk for grab-and-go service. Artisanal brews from beans roasted less than 24 hours beforehand, and fresh bakery items from their Oakland shop make it worth the trip.

Checkout: Hayes Valley espresso, granola with milk in a Mason jar, New Orleans-style iced coffee

Photo courtesy: w.noodle

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Walking Distance

0.84 miles

Snap a picture-perfect shot of the Painted Ladies Victorian homes, the same vista made famous in the Full House TV show. Pups run free in an off-leash area, and a tennis court and walking trails provide opportunities for cardio across the street.

Photo courtesy: Spondylolithesis

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Walking Distance

0.66 miles

Popular among the upscale-thrifting crowd, this vintage-clothing shop turns back the clock a bit further than most, specializing in shoes, dresses and accessories from the 1940s and 50s. Not the place to go if you're looking for low prices, though.

Photo courtesy: ecologiqfashion

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Walking Distance

0.18 miles

What started out as a small boutique has quickly become a full-fledged SF label carrying top designer brands. Pop into the Hayes St location for a peak at their denim wall along with quirky bits and pieces for the home and a number of killer sales.

Photo courtesy: jmny90

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Walking Distance

0.09 miles

Mixers whirr as liquid nitrogen pours into them to create made-to-order Earl Grey ice cream. Since 2009, Founder Robyn Sue Fisher has continually innovated her seasonal farm-to-cone ice cream in this no-frills recycled shipping container.

Checkout: Cookie Dough with Pretzels and Chocolate Chips, Earl Grey and lavendar, or salted caramel

Photo courtesy: smittenicecream

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Walking Distance

0.02 miles

Named for the woman who spearheaded its development, this park features circular plazas that connect two open green spaces. It's a fun spot where local children play while parents relax or view public art in this vibrant, poplar urban neighborhood.

Photo courtesy: montoyarealestatesf

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Walking Distance

0.21 miles

Explore the height of modern design at this somewhat pricey Hayes Valley design and decor store that itself resembles a textbook Dwell magazine abode. Find your next favorite barbecue tool set or a stunning set of stemware for yourself or a friend.

Photo courtesy: Minimalist

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Walking Distance

0.37 miles

This rustic, yet warm spot is a paragon of German hospitality. The hearty, regional menu features Bavarian specialties like Obatzda and Pretzel and a huge beer selection attracts a pleasant mix of groups, families, and low-key dates. Prost!

Checkout: Brezel and Obatzda, potato pancakes with homemade apple sauce, marinated and braised beef, cheese spätzle in onion butter sauce

Photo courtesy: suppenkuchesf

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Walking Distance

0.43 miles

Created just for jazz, this $64 million center offers a great sensory experience almost every day and night. Maceo Parker, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Chucho Valdés are among those performing in acoustically perfect environs in the heart of SF.

Photo courtesy: SJJazz

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Walking Distance

0.26 miles

A hand-blown glass chandelier lights the walnut bar at this relaxed, dog-friendly haunt. Join old pals for cold draft beer, impress a date over Japanese white ale, or jam the jukebox with Junco Partner, a rum, chocolate bitters, and lime cocktail.

Checkout: Japanese white ale, California wines on tap, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Photo courtesy: svzinteriordesign

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