Having been completely transformed in recent decades, Hayes Valley has quickly garnered a reputation for being a hip urban neighborhood complete with fashionable boutiques, trendy bars, and upscale restaurants. Sandwiched between Alamo Square and the Civic Center, Hayes Valley first came to prominence when director Erich von Stroheim filmed his 1924 film Greed on the corner of Hayes and Laguna. (He created signs for a dentist’s office and a photography studio for the film, and his set dressing skills were apparently so convincing that several locals thought the shops were real.)
In more recent years, the elevated Central Freeway was severely damaged during the 1989 earthquake. Local activists ultimately chose to demolish it, which spurred a wave of renovation in the neighborhood. Many of the shops, restaurants, and bars that now line the streets popped up during that ensuing period. (Accordingly, home prices have skyrocketed—the average house in Hayes Valley now sells for $1.349 million.) Whether searching for a to-die-for meal or a one-of-a-kind handbag, residents and guests alike can find everything their hearts desire in Hayes Valley.
To sample some international flavor, head to Barcino
, a Catalan-inspired restaurant from The Absinthe Group built in the shadow of former favorite Cajun eatery The Boxing Room. Barcino serves up chef Ryan McIlwraith’s interpretation of tapas from the Catalonia region of Spain (think paella, tomato bread, Spanish cheeses, and an enviable list of Spanish wines). To try out more global cuisine, head to Biergarten
, a Bavarian-style beer garden in the heart of Hayes Valley that serves a rotating selection of draft beers and German pub food. And if you can’t make it all the way to France, take advantage of the next best thing by stopping into upscale Parisian brasserie and bar Absinthe
for French-Mediterranean bites and craft cocktails.
After eating, head to public park Patricia’s Green to glimpse rotating art exhibitions or live music venue SFJAZZ
for a show. Equal parts urban and upscale, Hayes Valley is the ideal place for anyone looking for a never-ending list of things to do and see in the city.