And Now You Know

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We aren’t exactly hard pressed to find places to suggest to you readers that we consider must-see/shop/sips in San Francisco… it’s actually been near impossible to narrow it down to be manageable. The only way we could think to blog our wonderful experience was to narrow it down to one of our favorites and give you the in depth scoop on one bay area ‘hood. We chose Hayes Valley.

Located smack in the center of the city by the bay, Hayes Valley is bordered by New Fillmore, Market Street, the Haight and the Civic Center. It’s about a 30 minute walk from Union Square, but we suggest you take a cab to ensure you don’t walk through the less scenic Tenderloin neighborhood. Ask to get dropped by on the corner of Hayes and Octavia, and come hungry and ready to see and shop.

Aside from shopping, we suggest spending much of your time in SF in the pursuit of food. You won’t be disappointed, as there are literally endless options, each more tempting then the last. Some of Hayes Valley favorites:

Stacks: Comfortable Food, 501 Hayes– If you want a cute place to sit and people watch as you deliberate between numerous types of gourmet pancakes, this place is calling your name.

The Crepe House, 429 Gough (bottom right picture)– located on the street with the most boutiques, a creperie is always a welcome refueling stop.

Smitten Ice Cream, 432 Octavia Street (top left picture)–They make their ice cream each day, which means it’s as fresh as it is delicious. Before we knew all that, we were already sold by the flavor of the day: Salted Carmel.

La Boulange Bakery, 500 Hayes Street (top right picture)– You literally can’t miss this place. It’s bright green, and people keep our out it’s doors, holding pastries and laughing with delight. Join them.

One sweet shop caught our eye and deserves your full attention: Chantal Guillon Macarons, 437 Hayes. We were all over the cupcake trend while it lasted in LA, and now we heard that macarons are SF’s new cupcake. In case that logic is hard to follow, here’s the gist: macarons (not macaroons- those are American coconut cookies, we’re talking about tiny French almond cookies) are delicious. In general. Specifically, Mme Guillon’s are extra delicious. They’re also adorable, come in gourmet flavors and pretty colors, and are sold in one of the most charming spots we visited in SF. Confession: we went there three times during our trip.

Now that we’ve effectively fed your sweet and savory cravings, it’s only fair we suggest a few places to sate your thirst. (Don’t worry, we’ve got an endless list of city wide options for you too- coming soon!)

Blue Bottle Coffee, 315 Linden (left picture)– We haven’t seen beakers like the ones used to brew coffee here since we had a chemistry class to attend. Whatever they’re doing is working; their coffee is absolutely aces.

Taste Tea Room, 535 Octavia (right picture)– Perfect for relaxing in, this tucked away gem is a few blocks from the center of the main street. Pick your tea of choice, and it’s served to you according to Chinese tradition, in heavy teapots and small serving cups. Charming!

Shopping needs to be mentioned in this neighborhood as well. Since we know you’ll be heading over to Forever 21 at Stockton Street/Ellis, we needn’t go into too much detail about clothing stores, but we can tell you that if you’re feeling splurgey, you’d like to take a look at Azalea (411 Hayes) and Reliquary (537 Octavia, top left picture). Beyond those, we suggest you check out the following:

Bibliohead, 334 Gough– New and used books stacked floor to ceiling, on any and all topics. Whether you love art, photography, fashion or fiction, you’ll find it all here at prices that rival Amazon, but with infinitely more charm.

Flight 001, 525 Hayes (bottom row)– Any frequent traveler will appreciate this stop. It’s a small shop (that looks like the interior of a plane!) that stocks adorable and innovative travel goodies, like luggage tags and tiny toiletries.

Nancy Boy, 347 Hayes– Even opening the door to this store wafts glorious soap, candle and perfume scents your way. Great selection of scents and products.

Ver Unica, 437 Hayes (top right picture)– In case you didn’t get enough thrifting with Erin of Cali Vintage earlier this week, Ver Unica stocks a good selection of totally wearable vintage pieces in a boutique setting.