A gem tucked into the heart of San Francisco, Hayes Valley is an up-and-coming enclave with residents who have a taste for fine dining, theater, art and great coffee. The area is part of the city’s Western Addition district, bordered by the Tenderloin, the Mission, the Lower Haight and Cathedral Hill. Primary streets are named after influential citizens from the 19th century (Hayes, Gough), and side streets feature botanical names (Ivy, Lily).
Because of its close proximity to the theater district, high-end restaurants abound, attracting sophisticated residents seeking a culturally rich lifestyle. Considered an affluent neighborhood, Hayes Valley is home to the annual San Francisco Jazz Festival, which the L.A. Times calls one of America’s premier cultural events. Residents and visitors alike flock to the neighborhood’s eclectic art galleries, quaint cafes and exotic eateries that offer everything from coconut flan to gaucho barbecue.
Hayes Valley was once the site of a mammoth double-decker freeway that was torn down after the 1989 earthquake, clearing the way for revitalization and an impressive influx of new businesses. On the south side of Hayes Street, between Van Ness and Franklin, is an unimposing archway that leads to one of the city’s finest theaters, the Nourse Auditorium. Built in 1927, the auditorium was recently renovated with new curtains, speakers and plush, upholstered seats. A popular restaurant in the area is Absinthe, an upscale South of France-style brasserie known for its tomato-zucchini gratin. The area boasts a number of unique galleries, including Polanco, which specializes in Mexican fine art and folk crafts. The cafe scene is in full swing at popular neighborhood coffee shops such as Blue Bottle and Mercury Café.
Shoppers love Hayes Valley for its trendy boutiques, including organic Japanese threads for men and women. Visitors and residents also enjoy the SoHo-style art galleries, exotic furniture shops and strolling along alleyways dotted with cascading green gardens.