This story is brought to you by Poppy the AV, an all-electric self-driving Cruise vehicle, who knows the ins and outs of the City.
Like many neighborhoods in the city, Hayes Valley is poised for post-pandemic life. The sunny enclave—wedged between Mid-Market, Lower Haight, and the Western Addition—is optimistic about the return of vaccinated shoppers hunting for everything from hipster kicks to one-of-a-kind clothing to Insta-famous jewelry.
The boutique-heavy 'hood is made extra dope thanks to the wealth of delectable, internationally inspired restaurants, charming wine bars, and fun (regular) bars that draw all manner of local folk, bon vivants, and tourists. They come for the shopping, eats, and drinks but stay for the people-watching.
Our favorite perch? A bench in Patricia's Green, situated in the middle of all the action and across from the much-loved, multi-purpose outdoor Proxy space with converted shipping containers inhabited by Ritual Coffee, Smitten, Juice Shop, and Aether. Plus, it plays host to rotating art exhibits and events.
While we're bullish on the future, we'd be ignoring the
elephant grizzly in the room if we didn't acknowledge that Hayes Valley looks a little different 18 months after lockdown. Retail, especially small indie shops, has been ravaged by the shutdown and, sadly, many of our favorite stores and a few restaurants didn't survive. RIP: Acote, Azalea, Ver Unica, Welcome Stranger, Nancy Boy, Dish, Aiken, Cary Lane, Seldom Seen, Sean, Gazette, Gimme Shoes, Will Leather Goods, EI Home, Alternative Apparel, Straw, Urban Remedy, Barcino, The Grove, Stacks, Dobb's Ferry, Biergarten, Little Gem, The Riddler, Pläj, and 20th Century Cafe.
But there's only one thing to do and that's move on to better and brighter days. Use our cheat sheet to guide you through your next sojourn around the neighborhood.
Hayes Valley: Arguably San Francisco's Best Shopping Neighborhood
The tiny jewel shop Metier is a truly local treasure trove for contemporary statement pieces as well as vintage baubles.
(Courtesy of Gem Gossip)
Stylish Threads for Guys and Gals
Longtime favorite Azalea recently morphed into an A.P.C. concept store (411 Hayes St.) featuring the French brand's men's, women's and Surplus collections along with Azalea jewelry and Aesop skincare. // Neighborhood mainstay MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) (387 Grove St.) offers slick pieces by Dries Van Noten and Junya Watanabe. // Perfect for the lounge-y style of the moment? The laid back but luxe clothes and homewares at Reliquary (544 Hayes St.). The personally selected vintage pieces, sold under the in-house label, showcase a thoughtful eye for timeless design and effortless style. // For minimalist-chic pieces at affordable price points, be sure to go through the collection at Oak + Fort (567 Hayes St.) // Swing by the très French Clare V. (344 Linden St.) for delightful bags and accessories at the label's only Northern California space. // Newbie Rails (541 Hayes St.), known for its custom fabrics and an aesthetic that blends SoCal and European style, features cool, comfortable and wearable men's and women's staples. The plaid shirts! // Buck Mason (568 Hayes St.) is all about uncomplicated, meticulously designed and reasonably priced menswear including the brand's bestselling curved-hem tee, hoodies, denim, sweats and jackets.
Basics, Athleisure + Gear
For workout apparel that's as stylish as it is comfortable, head to Outdoor Voices (555 Hayes St.). // L.A.-based Industry of All Nations (528 Hayes St.) focuses on small-batch collections that are developed in collaboration with local communities around the world. Check out their alpaca knitwear made in Bolivia, which is dyed using natural pigments for a subtle variation of 16 shades. // Marine Layer (498 Hayes St.) is where you can stock up on T-shirts made from uniquely soft fabric (it contains recycled beechwood). // Fans of handcrafted, individual pieces should check out Cotton Sheep (572 Hayes St.), which stocks hard-to-find Japanese brands such as Kapital and Fith. // Hit up the hip metal container store Aether (489 Hayes St.) for technical menswear that seamlessly combines form with function. // Timbuk2 (506 Hayes St.) has been producing its iconic messenger bags from a Mission District factory since 1989, but they've since expanded to fanny packs, backpacks, and luggage all with a utilitarian-cool vibe.
Shoes, Lingerie + Accessories
If you're looking for a special bit of bling or just something unique to pretty up your week, head over to Metier (546 Laguna St.), a gem of a jewelry store where you can score contemporary statement pieces as well as exquisite, handpicked vintage finds. // Lovers of minimalist-but-not-boring earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets, Insta-star Mejuri (325 Hayes St.) is your spirit label. Shop the teensy boutique for 14-karat gold, gold vermeil, and sterling silver goodies. // A sweet spot for shoe lovers, Bulo (418 Hayes St.) is where you can find California-made Cydwoq's sinuous leather sandals. // Sneakerheads will dig Undefeated (516 Hayes St.) and its selection of street-style kicks and merch. // Looking for a new pair of inexpensive but fashion forward shades? For every pair that Warby Parker (357 Hayes St.) sells, the company also distributes a pair to someone in need. // Lovers of silky, lacy things have long made Hayes Street a destination for the too-gorgeous, high-end underpinnings at Alla Prima (539 Hayes St.). // If sexy corsets are more your thing, pop into Dark Garden (321 Linden St.), where you can tap into the expertise of their couture designers to create something that will be uniquely yours.
Home, Gifts + Beauty
For unique homeware and furniture pieces head over to Maker Moss (364 Hayes St.), which has plenty to satisfy any picky Min Hogg aspirant. // The sleek furniture and design-forward housewares at Minimal (364 Hayes St.) are also worth a gander. // If you're on the hunt for custom-made furniture, be sure to stop by Interior Define. You can even book a one-on-one appointment with a design specialist at the sleek, immersive showroom. // Parachute (445 Hayes St.) stocks luxurious linen bedding, bath goods, and home accessories with a minimalist aesthetic. // At MMclay Ceramics (395 Linden St.), shop tableware handmade by local artist MaryMar Kennan, housed in an aesthetically pleasing Airstream trailer parked next to Patricia's Green. Also check out the recently renovated production studio/showroom a few blocks away (69 Gough St.). // Comic book fans will love Isotope (326 Fell St.) for its terrific selection of comics and hard-to-find graphic novels, which you can peruse from the comfort of their red and white vinyl sofa. // Tech geeks will spend hours playing around with the hottest new gadgets housed in a modern space at B8ta (590 Hayes St.). // The city's second Credo (552 Hayes St.) spot is small but mighty and filled with all the non-toxic and cruelty-free lotions, potions, makeup, fragrance, and haircare anyone could need. // Malin + Goetz (509 Hayes St.) has unisex skincare, haircare and grooming down pat with its cult-favorite products made of natural ingredients with advanced technology. Don't miss the killer fragrances and candles (we're team dark rum).
The Best Restaurants in Hayes Valley
Opened in the summer of 2019, Berkeley favorite Gioia Pizzeria still feels like a newcomer to San Francisco. Discover classic and unique pies, plus salads and sandos.
(Courtesy of Gioia Pizzeria)
Hayes Valley is a stone's throw from an arts circle that includes the Davies Symphony Hall (201 Van Ness Ave.), SF Jazz Center (201 Franklin St.) and Sydney Goldstein Theater (275 Hayes St.)—in other words, the restaurants here are typically packed. Culture vultures have long flocked to Absinthe (398 Hayes St.) for their delicious brasserie-inspired fare, while just across the road Chez Maman (401 Gough St.) is known for its delicious burgers and pots of savory mussels. // If seafood's your thing, make a reservation at Hayes Valley institution Hayes Street Grill (320 Hayes St.), which has been serving fresh, sustainably harvested fish and shellfish since 1979. Note: the temporarily closed restaurant is planning to reopen just in time for fall arts season. // Indulge all your pasta cravings at A Mano (450 Hayes St.). // Grab a rosemary ham or asparagus-topped slice (or whole pie) at newcomer Gioia Pizzeria (579 Hayes St.). // Hankering for some majorly tasty Chinese-American food classics a la Genera Tso's chicken, chow mein and crispy egg rolls? Pandemic-born Lazy Susan, led by former Mister Jiu's sous chef Eric Ehler and founder Hanson Li, got you. (208 Fell St.) // Impress a date by partaking in Kim Alter's lovely Californian-inspired cuisine at Nightbird (330 Gough St., reopening soon for indoor dining; currently offering takeout) or sip on delightful cocktails at their tiny but super chic adjoining bar Linden Room (330 Gough St., temporarily closed) before heading for a delectable dinner at the chic brasserie Monsieur Benjamin (451 Gough St.), from Benu chef Cory Lee. // For a different kind of fowl, hit up The Bird for the delish, free-range fried and gluten-free chicken sando made on a fresh bun from a local East Bay baker—takeout only (406 Hayes St.). // Find more modern French-inspired fare at Dominique Crenn's bistro-style restaurant Petit Crenn (609 Hayes St; temporarily closed while the space is being used by Rethink and Glide to feed those in need.). // For those seeking chill vibes, the no dress-code Rich Table (199 Gough St.) showcases an inventive menu that tastes as delicious as it sounds; plus, the team's RT Rotisserie (101 Oak St.) slangs succulent chicken and sides on the cheap. // Speaking of rotisserie, Souvla (517 Hayes St.) started this red hot trend. Have lunch or a casual dinner at the original location—don't skip the fro-yo. // On a foggy day, dive into a piping hot bowl of veggie miso or chicken paitan ramen at Nojo Ramen Tavern (231 Franklin St.) // All said, Cala (149 Fell St.) may be the hippest game in the 'hood, with mezcal cocktails and grilled whole fish tacos. (Note: Cala is temporarily closed while it's being used by Farming Hope and the new Refettorio SF to help feed the local community.) // For more tacos—plus plenty of chips, guac, and margaritas—be sure to bring a group for a lively dinner at Papito (425 Hayes St.). // Of course, you can never go wrong with oysters and an afternoon burger on focaccia at the iconic Zuni Cafe (1658 Market St.).
Coffee + Treats + Snacks
Those with a sweet tooth love Miette (449 Octavia St.), the dainty little sugar shop that is as pretty as it sounds. For scrumptious German jam-filled donuts (aka berliners), apple turnovers and soft pretzels, hit up the adorable Hahdough to-go window (509 Laguna St.) from Vietnamese-born/German-grown pastry chef Ha Do. // For classic American donuts—old-fashioned chocolate to custard-filled and vegan options—Johnny Dougnuts (392 Fulton St.) is your guy. Order with an Equator latte and, dang, life is good. // Ice cream fans can enjoy a made-to-order cone at Smitten (432a Octavia St.) overlooking Patricia's Green or seasonal scoops at Salt & Straw (586 Hayes St.). // Pick up a cuppa at Ritual (432b Octavia St.) or get a pour-over from the original Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk (315 Linden St.) and a boiled bagel at Wise Sons (537 Octavia St.) to go with. // After scarfing your lox, eggs and onion on poppy, go next door to Naya Dessert Cafe (535 Octavia St.) for authentic otherworldly Asian sweets—think mango sticky rice crepes, salted egg custard toast, and green tea ice cream. // Now that you're probably in a bubble-tea mood, make the few-block trek to Bay Area favorite Boba Guys (8 Octavia St.). // For a quick savory nosh, meat lovers should make a pit stop at the Fatted Calf (320 Fell St.), one of the best charcuterie shops in the city that also happens to serve a limited number of delicious lunchtime sandwiches. // It wouldn't be a true SF 'hood without a juice option—reboot with an After Party or turmeric elixir while you soak up the sun outside Juice Shop (432 Octavia St.).
Grab Drinks and Wine in Hayes Valley
With colorful tile work, funky art, and a sunny patio, Anina is a sweet spot for sipping creative punch bowls and spritzes.
(Courtesy of Anina)
True Sake (560 Hayes St.) sells sake instead of serving it. Owner Beau Timken's in-depth knowledge of sake has made his cozy store (the first in the U.S. dedicated to sake) a real destination for all who love the Japanese brew. // Pick up a bottle (or case) of fine wine at Arlequin (384 Hayes St.). // Ensconce yourself in the black and white interior of Fig & Thistle (313 Ivy St.) to try their choice selection of California beers and wines; or if seasonal cocktails are in the cards, head to the swanky Noir Lounge (581 Hayes St.). // Get some fresh air with your punch bowl at the colorful Anina (482 Hayes St.), which has an Instagram-worthy patio perfectly framed by fairy lights. // Ebb & Flow (294 Ivy St.) serves chill-chic vibes and a selection of vino from small producers and family-owned vineyards. It also has a charming outdoor setup with heat lamps. // A few blocks off the main drag, Birba (458 Grove St.) is a garden oasis and a perfect spot for relaxing with friends over a couple bottles of wine. // If you like to people watch as much as you like to imbibe, Brass Tacks (488A Hayes St.) serves up some tasty cocktails—try the Brass Smash (Venezuelan rum, Cynar, mint and lemon). If you're lucky, you can scoop the window view while you enjoy it. (Note: BT was closed at press time but should be up and serving cocktails soon.) // Show off your captain's drawl at Smuggler's Cove (650 Gough St.) while you sip on their famous hot buttered rum. Cheers!
Meet Poppy, Cruise's all-electric self-driving spokesvehicle. Five years of nonstop driving in San Francisco has made her a local's local. Like you, Poppy has been exploring every corner and celebrating all the city has to offer. From her very first drive to delivering thousands of meals during the pandemic, Poppy's journey is a love letter to San Francisco, one neighborhood at a time. Be sure to also follow her adventures and unique city knowledge on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Thank you to our partners at Cruise.