Modern Guide to SF's Valencia Street: Destination Eats, Craft Cocktails + Car-Free Weekends
Thanks to endless parklets, Valencia Street is returning to some pre-pandemic normalcy. (Courtesy of @lolorestaurantsf)

Modern Guide to SF's Valencia Street: Destination Eats, Craft Cocktails + Car-Free Weekends


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.

As the modern hub of San Francisco's vibrant Mission District, Valencia Street is home to some of the city's hottest destination eateries, funky independent shops, most crowded watering holes, and eye-popping murals.

Yes, even in the wake of Covid-19.

Take a stroll down Valencia and you'll encounter endless new parklets that were elaborately designed for outdoor revelry during the pandemic, plus car-free Fridays and Saturdays and new lights stretching all the way from 14th to 24th Streets.

You might even catch some outdoor live music as the corridor returns to its bustling self after months of closed restaurants and boarded-up storefronts. While we continue to lament the ongoing closures of neighborhood mainstays—we miss you, Locanda—it seems there's always something new and shiny to catch our eye here.

When your belly is full and your pockets are empty, walk over to the 16th & Mission Bart Station to find your way home.

The Best Restaurants on Valencia Street in San Francisco

(Courtesy of Lazy Bear)

Casual & Takeout Eats

Come to Valencia Street hungry.For a healthyish salad or sandwich (and maybe a glass of wine and some Greek froyo), head toSouvla(758 Valencia St.). Don't want to wait for an outdoor table? Take it to go for a picnic at nearby Dolores Park. // As the name suggests, nearby spot Mission Picnic(983 Valencia St.) also has plenty of picnic-perfect salads and sandwiches. If you're hungry, go for the San Franciscan with pastrami, turkey, provolone, and more on a white roll. In the evenings, the space becomes Total Meltdown, a pop-up with cheesy, cheat-day-worthy eats, like a mac and cheese-filled grilled cheese or tater tots. // Mezze plates, falafel wraps, and shawarma are all on offer at casual Mediterranean spot Yasmin(799 Valencia St.). // Opened in mid-April, Peruvian Sangucheria Sanguchon(1182 Valencia St.) is the place for adobo bowls, Corazon skewers, a lomo saltado sandwich, and more. // Another food truck turned restaurant,Señor Sisig's (990 Valencia St.) Filipino fusion dishes—think tacos, loaded nachos, and meat- and fry-stuffed burritos—are not to be missed. Just a few blocks down at the Señor Sisig Vegano truck (701 Valencia St.), you can find veganized versions of the eatery's menu. // If you're on the hunt for equally cheap and tasty eats, the pupusas at Panchita's(3091 16th St.) will certainly do the job. // Pregame a night of Valencia street barhopping with a burrito the size of your face and plenty of chips and guac at Taqueria El Buen Sabor(697 Valencia St.)—they've officially been in business for 25 years; currently open for takeout only. // On a foggy day, tuck into a heaping bowl of pho or a rice plate at home, courtesy of Vietnamese eateryMau(665 Valencia St.). Opt for pickup or delivery options. // We're more than ready to tuck into a bowl of made-from-scratch spaghetti pomodoro or rigatoni Bolognese at casual Italian spot Barzotto(1270 Valencia St.).

Date Night Spots

The colorful, quirky decor and illuminated parklet paired with creative Mexican dishes makes for a fun dining experience at Lolo(974 Valencia St.). Munch on ceviche and plates of tacos, and wash it all down with a couple mezcal cocktails. // Hawker Fare(680 Valencia St.) serves Asian street food in an eye-catching environment with fun tunes and tiki drinks to match. Bring a bunch of friends and order as much as possible. // Enjoy momo and curries at casual Nepalese spot Dancing Yak(280 Valencia St.). // On the opposite end of Valencia, fresh seafood and local produce shine in inventive dishes in a relaxed atmosphere at Al's Place(1499 Valencia St.). // Hidden just off Valencia in a modern setting, vegans and carnivores alike flock to Shizen(370 14th St.) for a life-changing vegan sushi experience. Be prepared to wait a couple of hours for outdoor seating or takeout versions of some of the most flavorful specialty rolls and vegetables you've ever eaten. // Though Lazy Bear's(3416 19th St.)beloved communal dining experience is currently on hiatus for the pandemic, the tasting menu is being served at distanced tables both indoors and outd. The menu changes weekly, but expect gourmet offerings like smoked black cod rillette gougére or caviar-topped deep-fried potato gratin. // Southwestern spot West of Pecos(550 Valencia St.) serves up flavorful dinner and brunch dishes, plus cocktails like a prickly pear marg best enjoyed on the covered parklet. Start with appetizers like a cornbread skillet or chunky guac before moving on to mains like a green chile burger or chicken mole bowl. // Beretta(1199 Valencia St.) is another lively spot with perfect date night ambiance. Choose some antipasto from a lengthy list before diving into a pizza. // Neapolitan-style pies are the game at Flour + Water Pizzeria(700 Valencia St.), but it's temporarily closed for renovation. Check back in 2022.

Coffee, Tea & Sweets

Start your day with a pour over at Ritual Coffee(1026 Valencia St.) or a steaming cup of joe at Four Barrel Coffee(375 Valencia St.). // Grab a matcha latte and Japanese fare at Stonemill Matcha(561 Valencia St.). // Boba aficionados love Boba Guys(3491 19th St.) for their now-iconic tapioca drinks—order ahead for easy pickup. // For pastries and tarts almost too pretty to eat—plus the famous, egg-y Rebel Within—head to Craftsman and Wolves(746 Valencia St.). // If you're on the hunt for vegan pastries that won't break the bank, be sure to stop at Arizmendi Panaderia & Pizzeria(1268 Valencia St.). Snack on a slice of veggie pizza or a focaccia on their sunny parklet. // Nothing is better than fresh ice cream at Garden Creamery(3566 20th St.) on a hot day. Pick from tropical flavors, creamy classics, and a selection of vegan options available for preorder. // Taste small batch chocolate made of cacao beans sourced from around the world before sipping on a decadent frozen hot chocolate or European drinking chocolate at Dandelion Chocolate(740 Valencia St.).

Grab Drinks at Valencia Street's Hottest Bars

(Courtesy of Chezchez)

From the Trick Dog pack comes newcomer Chezchez(584 Valencia St.), a toast to aperitivo culture. In English: This is a choice spot for a pregame or nightcap over a cocktail and a light snack. The drinks list is mighty with several options for old fashioneds (the Japanese version stole our hearts), negronis, daiquiris, spritzes, martinis, and bloodies—plus a well curated wine list. Do yourself a favor and team your tipple with Mediterranean-style seafood tins and crusty baguette. // With mirrors, wood floors, and gold honeycomb accents, the 60's vibes are swingin' at The Beehive(842 Valencia St.). Grab a seat at the retro-style bar or beehive-inspired parklet for cocktails and snacks. Don't want to stick around? Order drinks to go! // Hidden behind an unassuming front, you'll find Wildhawk's (3464 19th St.) impeccably designed interior—complete with emerald armchairs and floral wallpaper. Enjoy a Negroni or bottle of wine and cheeseboard while perched at a street side table. // Choose from draft beers, specialty and craft cocktails—and VIP bottle service if you're down to splurge—at The Valencia Room(647 Valencia St.). Grab a parklet or indoor table—and keep your eye out for stand-up comedy and DJ tunes. // With a balcony window stage and to-go drinks, Amado's (998 Valencia St.) has safely kept the tunes going all pandemic long. Now, thanks to a parklet, you can sit down while listening to singer-songwriter Meredith Edgar or Nashville Honeymoon perform live. // On a sunny evening—or weekend brunch—snag an outside table at 10-year-old Etcetera Wine Bar(795 Valencia St.) for people watching, and tapas. Check out their Facebook for the live music schedule, and if you're done with work early, happy hour occurs daily from 5pm to 7pm. // No frills Mission establishment Zeitgeist(199 Valencia St.) is one of the best spots for day drinking in the neighborhood. Kick it at one of the many picnic tables on their outdoor patio with a cold beer or famous Bloody Mary. // A Valencia institution since 1991, Blondie's Bar(540 Valencia St.) has a street-facing patio and parklet perfect for downing a signature 16-ounce martini.

Where to Shop on Valencia Street in San Francisco

(Courtesy of Paxton Gate)

Stylish Threads for Girls & Guys

For pieces that are equally stylish and sustainable, Reformation(914 Valencia St.) is a must. The minimalist decor and high-tech dressing rooms make for an easy shopping experience and allow the romantic dresses and trendy tops to shine. // Pick up wear-everyday basics with a chic twist including denim, casual dresses, and chunky sweaters at Everlane(461 Valencia St.), another sustainable favorite in a light filled space. While you're there, invest in a pair of super comfy sneakers from Tread—your feet will thank you! // Fashionistas will be obsessed with Le Point(301 Valencia St.), a concept store specializing in high fashion pieces from designers including Staud, Ganni, and Tibi. You'll also find home and beauty goods in the sleek, museum like shop. // Home to colorful Carolina K dresses and funky Rachel Comey pieces for gals and Wax London shirts and Levi's denim for guys, Aggregate Supply(806 Valencia St.) is a trendsetter's paradise. // Turn just off of Valencia Street and you'll find yourself at Aggregate Supply's sister shop, Lexington Standard(3469 18th St.). Pick up some Frame or Mother Denim jeans or a dress from Ace&Jig. // The hip, industrial shop, Self Edge(714 Valencia St.), houses high quality denim and leather goods for guys. // Opened within the last two years, men's clothing brand State of Flux's(1176 Valencia St.) offerings range from jackets in eye-catching prints to graphic T-shirts. // Within Taylor Stitch's (383 Valencia St.) industrial-chic space, you'll discover made-to-last, environmentally conscious men's apparel and accessories. // Inside the Betabrand's (780 Valencia St.) laid-back flagship store stocks pieces designed and crowdfunded by real people including Dress Pant Yoga Pants and Executive Hoodies. // Looking for a perfectly worn in addition to your closet? Check out Afterlife (988 Valencia St.) for a collection of curated vintage items ranging from graphic tees and Levi's to statement pieces. // If you're on the hunt for a one of a kind vintage piece, No(389 Valencia St.) also offers a large selection of hand-picked items and designer finds at reasonable price points. // On the other end of Valencia at the Cut Loose Factory Store(1218 Valencia St.), you can design your own garments—first, check out sample styles, then look at seasonal fabric swatches—and walk out of the shop knowing your SF-made piece will be delivered to your doorstep in just a few week's time. If you don't want to wait, the store also stocks after-season and set to sell styles.

Gifts + Home Goods

Filled with goodies like Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits, stylish glassware, and Le Dix-Sept nougat, female and minority-owned Foragers Present (1186 Valencia St.) is a food lover's paradise. The shop also hosts food-focused pop-ups and events. // Whether you're in search of a Free People top, unique pair of earrings, candle, or cheeky BlueQ knickknack, you'll find it at gift store-clothing boutique hybrid Therapy(545 Valencia St.). // Go to the curated Needles & Pens(1173 Valencia St.) shop to pick up a hostess gift and chances are you'll leave with a couple zines, ceramic goods, and handcrafted soaps for yourself. // Top Drawer (980 Valencia St.) is filled with work from home essentials like leather notebooks, mechanical pencils, and cozy unisex house shoes, plus Polaroid cameras, backpacks, and sunglasses. // Once located on Haight Street but now on Valencia, Silver Sprocket(1038 Valencia St.) is home to comics and zines for every personality, plus art prints and knick-knacks. // Often Wander(593 Valencia St.) is a cute spot to snag an organic, eco-friendly candle, or boho statement necklace. // Tigerlily Perfumery(973 Valencia St.) just might be Valencia Street's best-smelling shop. Fragrance brands on offer range from local like Marin County Based L'Aromatica to international like Maison Violet of Paris. If you can't pick just one scent, settle on a sample set. // There's nothing better than having shelves upon shelves of books at your fingertips. Pick up a novel at Dog Eared Books(900 Valencia St.) and unplug for the afternoon. // If you're looking to redecorate, you'll surely fall in love with a couple locally sourced pieces of furniture or decor at home and bath goods store Acacia(715 Valencia St.). // For more minimalist-chic furniture, art, and objects be sure to stop by Super Simple's(855 Valencia St.) small but well-stocked space. // Spruce up your home with Paxton Gate's (824 Valencia St.) ethically sourced taxidermy, succulents, and other oddities. // One man's trash is another man's treasure at Community Thrift Store(623 Valencia St.), a Valencia Street staple since 1982. You'll find furniture, home goods, clothing, jewelry, and much more inside this cavernous space.

Things to Do While You're in the Mission

(Courtesy of @themadalchemistliquidliteshow)

One undoubtedly good thing to come out of the pandemic was San Francisco's increase in pedestrian-only Shared Spaces. On Fridays from 4pm to 11pm and Saturdays from 1pm to 11pm, you'll find Valencia Street between 16th and 17th, 18th and 19th, and 20th and 21st streets sans cars, bustling with masked shoppers, diners, and runners.

If you're all shopped out, there are a plethora of ways to chill around Valencia Street. When the fog burns off, make the couple block trek to Dolores Park(Dolores and 19th St.)—along with the rest of the city. Grab some goods for a makeshift picnic at Bi-Rite Market(3639 18th St.) and a couple of bottles of Rosé and get ready to soak up the sun. // Check out the Mission's abundance of vibrant street art with a stroll around the neighborhood—start at the Valencia-adjacent Clarion Alley(between 17th and 18th streets), filled with murals by local artists. One of the alley's newest additions, "The world is on fire" was created in collaboration with Extinction Rebellion SF to generate awareness about climate change. // Nearby, Rossi Mission SF(791 Valencia St.) provides street and graffiti artists with a place to create in the former Schauplatz Vintage space. Created by the owners of Yasmin just a few doors down, artists can also print and dye apparel there. // Get tickets to a concert at The Chapel(777 Valencia St.)—a converted chapel turned music venue—with artists to please every type of music fan. // Conversations are always happening at community-focused meeting and learning space, Manny's(3092 Valencia St.). Keep your eye on the calendar for IRL and virtual happenings with artists, change makers, and politicians or stop by on weekday mornings for coffee and bagels.

In the mood for a sweat sesh? Get rock-hard abs with a full body reformer class or cycling class at BodyRok(3585 20th St.). // Love Story Yoga's(473 Valencia St.) Vinyasa and core flow classes will leave you feeling relaxed, sweaty, and strong.

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.

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