The futuristic-looking container store in the background is menswear label Aether's slick retail space. (Photography by Janie Cai)

Hayes Valley: A haven for foodies, shoppers + bon vivants


Like virtually every neighborhood 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 smack-dab in the middle of all the action.

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, Welcome Stranger, Dish Clothing, 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, The Riddler and 20th Century Cafe (set to close by the end of June).

Moving on to better and brighter days...use our cheat sheet to guide you through your next sojourn around the nabe.

Where to Eat in Hayes Valley

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. // 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.). // For something a little healthier, enjoy gluten-free, veggie-centric dishes at Little Gem (400 Grove St.)—think maitake mushroom bowl and tuna tartare. // Pläj Restaurant (333 Fulton St.) is where you can satisfy your Scandinavian food yearning—tuck into some of their smoked fish croquettes or house-made beet-cured gravlax. // 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.) 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 ultimate, 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.). // 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 hipped game in the 'hood. Make a reservation or try your luck for a seat at the communal table and go all in 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. // And 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's (432a Octavia St.) outpost 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 (315 Linden St.) kiosk and a boiled bagel at Wise Sons (537 Octavia St.) to go with. // After scarfing your lox, eggs and onion on poppy, go next store 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 gourmet bubble tea. // 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 soak up the sun outside of Juice Shop (432 Octavia St.) with a turmeric elixir.

Where to Drink in Hayes Valley

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 super swanky Noir Lounge (581 Hayes St.). // Get some fresh air with your punch bowl at the colorful Anina (482 Hayes St.) next door, which has an Instagram-worthy patio perfectly framed by fairy lights. // Ebb & Flow (294 Ivy St.) serves chill-cum-chic vibes and a selection of vino from small producers and family-owned vineyards. It also has a charming outdoor setup (i.e., heat lamps). // A few blocks off the main drag, Birba's (458 Grove St.) garden oasis is the perfect spot to relax with friends and 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 is currently closed 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. (Note: The bar is scheduled to reopen on June 15th.) Cheers!

Hayes Valley: Arguably San Francisco's Best Shopping Neighborhood

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 Oak + Fort's collection (567 Hayes St.) // Swing by the très French Clare V (344 Linden St.) for delightful bags and accessories at the label's only Northern Cali space. // Newbie Rails (541 Hayes St.), known for its custom fabrics and an aesthetic that blends Southern Cali 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 natural Alpaca knitwear made in Bolivia, which is dyed using natural pigments for a subtle variation of 16 natural shades. // Marine Layer (498 Hayes St.) is where you can stock up on T-shirts made from their 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 their iconic messenger bags from their 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 more minimalist-but-not-boring earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets, Insta-star Mejuri (325 Hayes St.) is your spirit label. Hit up the teensy boutique for 14k 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 alongside in-house 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 homeware picks 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's sleek, immersive showroom—you can even book a one-on-one appointment with a design specialist. // Parachute (445 Hayes St.) also stocks plenty of luxurious home accessories including bedding and bath goods with a minimalist aesthetic. // At MMclay Ceramics (Octavia and 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 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).

// Looking for your first home or your next home in Hayes Valley? Start your search and find your home at Thank you to our sponsors at Zephyr.

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