Travel Guides for Un-tourists


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

by Liz Shemaria

posted on January 17, 2019

Photo Courtesy: Smitten Ice Cream

Itinerary Details

11 Places
57 Mins

Photo Courtesy: bjminj

Start your morning on the corner of Gough and Oak Streets, a few blocks off the neighborhood’s main street, with a brunch of Eastern European specialties like honey cake, poppy seed babka, or house-made bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Vintage china, marble tabletops, and classic recipes take you back to another era, while modern touches keep it from veering into kitschy territory. Hold off on the caffeine ‘til you get to your second stop, because you’ll want to save it for what some might consider to be the best coffee in San Francisco.

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

Walking Distance

0.17 Miles

Photo Courtesy: alicia_1219

Blue Bottle Coffee is now practically a household name with stockists and stores across the globe, but it started off in a small garage with a roll-up door in Hayes Valley. Stop by the original outpost of this now-famous coffee roaster for a cup of pour over or a cappuccino, and sip on a bit of coffee history. If you’re still hungry, you can grab a pastry from the famed Tartine here, too.

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Hayes Valley espresso, granola with milk, New Orleans-style iced coffee

Walking Distance

0.84 Miles

With your coffee in hand, it’s time to take a 15-minute walk through the neighborhood, by heading up the hill to Alamo Square park. Technically, this isn’t Hayes Valley (NOPA is a neighborhood just next door), but it’s so close we’ve added it as a fun detour. There, you’ll catch a view of San Francisco’s skyline and the colorfully-painted Victorian-era houses called The Painted Ladies. Stroll through the park, and watch the fog roll in before heading back down the hill to explore more of Hayes Valley.

Walking Distance

0.66 Miles

Photo Courtesy: @ver_unica_sf

If you’ve ever wanted to try on vintage Gucci or Pucci, this is the place. Ver Unica is a Hayes Valley boutique stalwart, where you can peruse a collection of handbags, eyewear, and clothing from every era. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, a trip to Ver Unica is worth it to step into a fashion time machine.

Walking Distance

0.18 Miles

Photo Courtesy: azaleasf

Continue down Hayes Street to browse a boutique that is a little more of-the-moment, at one of Azalea’s two stores in San Francisco (the other location is in The Mission). Here you’ll find clothing, shoes, and accessories for both men and women, including an extensive denim collection, and a well-curated sampling of pieces from independent designers and the shop's in-house brand.

Walking Distance

0.09 Miles

Photo Courtesy: Smitten Ice Cream

Take a break from shopping to get an afternoon sugar high to fuel the rest of your day. San Francisco has dozens of ice cream shops, but Smitten aims to be different with flavors you can’t find anywhere else, like Matcha-Verbena and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Be sure to watch the ice cream baristas churn each perfect scoop to order, using liquid nitrogen. Not only is it entertaining, but this method yields an extra-creamy frozen treat.

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Cookie dough with pretzels and chocolate chips, earl grey and lavender, salted caramel

Walking Distance

0.02 Miles

Photo Courtesy: my_next_step

Adjacent to Smitten, you’ll find Patricia’s Green, one of the city’s more than 40 public parklets. Sit on a bench and people watch, or check out the park’s latest rotating art installation that comes straight from Burning Man — the annual party in Black Rock City, Nevada that is dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance — like a 50-foot LED tree-like sculpture, and a 37-foot temple made from multidimensional carved wood. For the masses who leave the city in September to make the pilgrimage to Black Rock City, having a sculpture dedicated to the event in the park means they can celebrate it all year long.

Walking Distance

0.21 Miles

Photo Courtesy: apartment_34

After a break at Patricia’s Green, continue down Hayes Street to this store that will have any modern-design lover drooling. The boutique has a collection of homewares, lighting, jewelry, and accessories from Scandinavia, Japan, and across the globe with a focus on modernism and a minimalist aesthetic.

Walking Distance

0.37 Miles

Photo Courtesy: petervto

There are dozens of restaurants that you could pick in Hayes Valley to experience San Francisco’s burgeoning high-end dining culture, but for excellent food and an experience that is classic San Francisco, make your way to Suppenküche. This lively beer hall has communal wooden tables and brews served in boots. Start with a Bavarian pretzel and a selection of cheese, and then follow it with traditional German fare like wiener schnitzel or potato pancakes. Reservations aren’t accepted, so be prepared to put your name on the list at 5pm or wait a while for a table.

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

Walking Distance

0.43 Miles

Photo Courtesy: SJJazz

Let your food settle by taking a walk to SFJAZZ for some live music. You’ll want to buy tickets in advance as this venue hosts some of the United States’, and the world’s best musicians, including Flamenco guitar, a tribute to Thelonious Monk, and performances that mix jazz and hip-hop in one show.

Walking Distance

0.26 Miles

Photo Courtesy: ralasdair

After the show, head back to Hayes Street for a cocktail at Brass Tacks. Have a “Conversation” with rye whiskey, root syrup, and orange bitters; or try the bar’s “Brass Smash” with Venezuelan rum, Cynar, mint, and lemon. If cocktails aren’t your thing, they also have a list of local and international beers and Californian wines on tap.

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

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