Let's Call it the Boom Loop: 7 Big Ways San Francisco's Heart Beats On
Night markets in the Sunset (pictured here) and Chinatown, plus popping block parties, glowing public art installations, and community-driven programming paint a brighter picture of San Francisco. (@kemilyvisuals, via @sunsetmercantile)

Let's Call it the Boom Loop: 7 Big Ways San Francisco's Heart Beats On


For over a year now, the national media have been portraying San Francisco as a post-apocalyptic city stuck in a version of urban hell they’ve named the Doom Loop.

But here on the ground, things look a whole lot different. Sure, downtown is struggling and the Tenderloin is, well, the Tenderloin, but throughout the vast majority of the 7x7, the city’s heartbeat is beating with vibrancy and promise for the future.

Still don’t believe it? Here are seven things to love about San Francisco right now, doom loop be damned.

​Night Markets, Parties + Art Walks

The scene at an Undiscovered block party.

(Courtesy of @undiscoveredsf)

For the first time in a long time, San Francisco’s streets are regularly coming alive after dark. In Chinatown, you’ll find Grant Street erupting into the Chinatown Night Market—a party fueled by traditional Chinese eats, entertainment, and activities—every second Friday through November, while over in the Tenderloin, the first Thursday of the month bring SF First Thursday Art Walk, a celebration of the neighborhood’s arts and culture. Over the coming months, we’re looking forward to more fun heritage-inspired events, too. The season starts with the Bhangra and Beats Night Market, which will bring South Asian rhythms and food to three downtown blocks on May 10th, and continues with the Taipei-style food-focused Sunset Night Market, and the return of the Undiscovered SF Filipino Block Party to SoMa later in the year.

Vacant to Vibrant

Vacant to Vibrant pop-up activator artist Bee Betwee at work on a community portrait mural.

(Courtesy of @vacanttovibrant/@sfnewdeal)

There’s no way around the fact that downtown has hollowed out since working from home became the norm. For months now, SF New Deal has been working hard to fight the blight with Vacant to Vibrant, a program that gives small businesses and creative centers the chance to pop-up in storefronts that are standing empty. The Vacant to Vibrant map lays out those ephemeral gems that are open now, including the Devil’s Teeth Bakery (1 Embarcadero Center), the local artist retail shop Yonder (151 Jackson St.), and The Mellow (322 Pine St.), a dynamic community space for live music, art, and local vendors.

7x7 Social Club

Just a taste of 7x7 Social Club's April offers.

We know, life in SF feels more expensive than ever. The new 7x7 Social Club is giving locals a hookup. Designed to give us all extra incentive to step back out and support local businesses IRL, 7x7 Social Club gives its members exclusive access, discounts, and deals to curated partners around the Bay Area.

In April, Social Club members are scoring preferred reservations at 7 Adams restaurant, complimentary tickets to Alonzo King Lines Ballet, 25 percent off tickets to Pebble Beach Food & Wine, early access (and goodie bags) at Freda Salvador's Friends + Family Sale, free secret menu items at Abaca, comped drinks at Bar Nonnina, free admission to SF Decorator Showcase, and special pricing on custom experiences and events including Mill Valley Music Festival, Craft Chocolate Experience, Hanson of Sonoma, and more. Around the first of each month, members will receive a fresh set of offers from all new partners.

Monthly memberships support 7x7's mission to drive foot traffic to local businesses at a time when they need it the most. // 7x7 Social Club membership is $7/month, you can cancel anytime. Read more about the inspiration behind the club, and join now.

Exciting Public Art Installations

(Joe Kokura, SFist)

SF’s always been a bastion for public art but the last few years have kicked the scene into high gear. We’re still enchanted by the light-bright installations like Entwined: Elder Mother erected late last year in Golden Gate Park, and in January, artist Charles Gadeken expanded his illuminated world to UN Plaza too. Meanwhile, over at Presidio Tunnel Tops, they’re gearing up to welcome the third artist of the Ancestral Futurism project, Oakland-based multi-isciplinarian Tosha Stimage, later this spring. We’re also anticipating the arrival of the 49 South Van Ness Video Art Program, a series of public works created by 11 different artists, and a sculpture by Berkeley artist Lava Thomas dedicated to Dr. Maya Angelou, which is expected to grace the steps of SF’s Main Public Library in the fall.

The Return of Glam

The 1930s era Dawn Club is jazzing up SoMa.

(via Yelp)

Glam is back with a vengeance that’s whipping downtown into a state of swanky celebration after sunset. The high-profile reopening of Starlite(450 Powell St), the 360-degree lounge at the top of Union Square’s historic Beacon Grand Hotel; the arrival of Peruvian-Japanese hotspot Chotto Matte (50 O’Farrell St.), and the reboot of the 1930s-era Dawn Club (10 Annie St.) are once again making it fun to get dressed up for a night on the town. Downtown rooftops like Charmaine’s (45 McAllister St.) and Rise Over Run (33 Turk St.) are also basking in the moment, with a pretty, fun-loving crowd that hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to go all out.

The Expansion of SF Restaurant Royalty

Iconic Chinatown restaurant Z&Y restaurant's new chapter, Z&Y Peking Duck.

(Courtesy of Z&Y Peking Duck)

Lately some of SF’s best known restaurants and restaurateurs have been gearing up for new chapters. First there was Alora (Pier 3), the new Mediterranean spot on the Embarcadero from the couple behind progressive Indian favorite Rooh. Then, Chinatown staple Z&Y Restaurant expanded into a new space focused on authentic duck and dim sum dishes, Z&Y Peking Duck (606 Jackson St.). And now, the folks behind Original Joe’s have a new hit on their hands with their new Mexican restaurant Elena’s (255 West Portal Ave.). Whether this means we’re craving the comfort of trusted institutions or whether the past years of upheaval has sparked new creativity among those we already know and love, we aren’t sure. Either way, we’re here for it.

Neighborhood Love

We see zero doom and gloom in Dolores Park.

(Courtesy of @yong_jin_kim)

It’s apparently been awhile since those pushing the Doom Loop narrative have left downtown. Because less than a mile away, SF’s neighborhoods are teeming with life, especially on the weekends. Yes, we’ve changed some of our habits—people are going out earlier and gravitating toward more laidback scenes—but from the full-to-bursting parklet at Cow Hollow’s Balboa Cafe (3199 Fillmore St.) to a pre-pandemic-level crowd at Dolores Park, from our perspective it seems like many in the city are living their best lives.

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