Neighborhood Guide: Art, fashion and stylish cuisine meet in Jackson Square

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Few neighborhoods blend sophistication and charm like San Francisco's Jackson Square.

Bounded by Broadway and Washington Street on the south, Columbus Avenue on the west, and Battery Street on the east, Jackson Square is where you go for a shot of retail therapy and a stroll through streets lined with serious historical cachet. What was once a part of the notorious Barbary Coast—a nest of brothels, bars and gambling dens during the heyday of our Gold Rush era—is now a crosshatch of spotless streets and brick buildings where cool boutiques rub shoulders with contemporary art galleries and one can partake of a refreshing cucumber gimlet without feeling the crush of tourists from nearby North Beach or Chinatown.


The Best Eats + Drinks in Jackson Square, SF

Verjus (528 Washington St) makes three for Michael and Lindsay Tusk who, over the past several years, have defined the Jackson Square dining scene. This French-style wine bar and bistro is designed to accommodate a range of eating and drinking needs, whether you're in the mood for a simple snack and glass of wine or a full meal and rare bottle. The wines are all natural and the bites European-inspired—dip into luscious burrata with baby fava beans or a classic French omelette with Boursin cheese. // The Tusks' Quince (470 Pacific Ave.) has nabbed a third Michelin star. In a recent remodel, more warmth and texture were added to the intimate 62-seat dining room, while the abbreviated salon remains a perfect spot to fete a special occasion with Champagne and caviar. // A towering pile of almond wood visible from the exterior hints at the dramatic open hearth that fuels Quince's handsome sibling restaurant, Cotogna (490 Pacific Ave.). Rustic spit-roasted meats complement supple handmade pastas and an extensive wine list. // Former Sushi Ran chef Nori Kusakabe introduces lesser-known sushi styles into 7 and 10-course omakase meals at Kusakabe (584 Washington St.). The serene dining room features warm wood, exposed brick, and a sommelier who suggests pairings from the extensive sake list. // Chef Daniel Patterson's first home, Coi (373 Broadway), remains the gold standard in tweezer food. // For something as comfortable as your favorite cashmere sweater, Kokkari Estiatorio (200 Jackson St.), famed for its hearth-warmed interior, aromatic meats and modernized Greek cuisine, is always worth a return visit. // Drop by 5A5 Steak Lounge (244 Jackson St) to have a juicy piece of meat. // San Francisco's Basque community will already know this one. At Bask (42 Columbus Ave), it's all about sunlight, good vibes, and delicious tapas. // Originally located in Laurel Heights, Nico (710 Montgomery St) is thriving in its Jackson Square home. The service is still impeccable and the regional/seasonal menu still changes nightly, but the addition of bar seating makes this a fine dining opportunity for walk-ins as well. // Like a classic black-and-white movie, Bix (56 Gold St.) makes you want to don a suit and crack wise over a dry martini. The tucked-away locale, jacketed bartenders, and live jazz set the mood for expert cocktails and refined bites like potato "pillows" topped with crème fraîche and caviar. // Descend into the sultry, subterranean den of Roka Bar (801 Montgomery St.) for cocktails served over hand-cut ice and a full robata and sushi menu from Roka Akor upstairs. Check their site for regular events including an oyster night and weeknight happy hour. // The Battery (717 Battery St.), a famously high-end social club, doesn't skimp on design with rich interiors by Ken Fulk, an enviable contemporary art collection, and a stunning reworking of the historic warehouse building by FME Architecture + Design. Absent a membership, you can enjoy its playful Old World restaurant or three stylized bars as the guest of a member. Or rent one of 15 plush hotel rooms and become an honorary member for the night. // If you're around the area in time for happy hour, check out Taverna Aventine (582 Washington St.) where, if you're up to the challenge, you can indulge in their absinthe service, highlighting three different countries' renditions of the green lady. Soak it up with rustic Roman-inspired cuisine, including a signature baked lasagna.

Art & Antiques in SF's Jackson Square

One would be remiss to not check out at least one gallery when you're in the area. Jackson Square remains a bit of a locus for contemporary art galleries, even if Roth Martin did step away from the neighborhood's beloved and now-closed Hedge Gallery to get into the sustainable shoe biz. The beautifully allocated Gallery Japonesque (824 Montgomery St.) is home to artworks by Alessandro Twombly (artist Cy Twombly's son) and the compelling ink paintings of Japanese artist Yuichi Inoue. // Just a few steps down is Simon Breitbard Fine Arts (843 Montgomery St.), a private gallery and art consulting firm run by Stephanie Breitbard and a team of four other talented ladies. Pick up an atmospheric landscape by Markham Johnson, or, if you aren't sure which to pick, defer to the extensive expertise of their in-house consulting team. // Those looking for something a little more historical will find plenty to inspire them at Foster-Gwin Art & Antiques (38 Hotaling Pl.). Amble through the high-ceilinged rooms stocked with a beautifully curated collection of Greco-Roman antiquities placed alongside cutting-edge modern art. // Housed in an 1854 bank building, William Stout Architectural Books (804 Montgomery St.) is a design-lover's mecca, piled high with both current and rare titles of architecture, art, and every design discipline under the sun. // Part of the appeal of the expansive art supply and gift shop Artist & Craftsman Supply (555 Pacific Ave.) is the ornate building that it occupies: a former Barbary Coast dance club with elaborate fixtures still in place. Don't miss the downstairs tunnel segment that the staff claims was once part of larger network used for the, ahem, unsavory illicit diversions.

Shopping in Jackson Square, San Francisco

The SF-based brand Allbirds (27-99 Hotaling Pl.) sparked the city's woolen shoe obsession and its first brick-and-mortar shop has been justifiably busy. Check out their seasonal colors as well as their newer Skippers and Toppers. // Then head to Shinola (53 Hotaling Pl.), the airy, wood-lined SF HQ of the Detroit-based brand stocked with handsome leather accessories, heavy-duty commuter bags, slick bicycles, and the the real draw: the company's iconic timepieces. // Saunter through Shinola and you'll find yourself in the domain of its brother brand Filson (722 Montgomery St.), another fixture and a proudly American-made label of outdoor rugged wear, which has been around since 1897. Pick up one of their sturdy canvas and leather bags, crafted from heavyweight rugged twill, or slip on a classic Field Parka. // It girls are loving the spacious Isabel Marant boutique (455 Jackson St.), home to both the French label's covetable main line as well as its more youthful (and slightly lower-priced) Etoile collection. Pick up an embellished blouson or a pair of sassy leather heels, or just feast your eyes on the beautiful clothes in their suitably gallery-like environs. // There's much to love at the fun, smart boutique Eden & Eden (560 Jackson St.), with great style and zero pretense. Owners Rachel and Charles are delightful, as is their mix of home design, women's apparel, handmade jewelry, and vintage finds. // Schott NYC (619 Sansome St) is an all-American success story dating back to 1913. The SF flagship store sells one-of-a-kind pieces for both men and women, handmade in the U.S. of A. // Ladies looking for stylish basics and affordable prices can head over to French brand A.P.C. (407 Jackson St).


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