Hayes Valley: A haven for foodies, shoppers + bon vivants

By Janie Cai | 7x7

Once a seedy area rife with crime and prostitution, Hayes Valley has transformed into a top spot in San Francisco to while away an afternoon sipping craft beer and hunting limited-edition designer tops.

The dramatic transition was initially triggered by 1989's Loma Prieta earthquake, which tumbled part of the Central Highway that ran directly through the neighborhood. Since local residents persistently (and successfully) rallied against the rebuilding of the highway, the area has had a chance to evolve. Almost two decades of steady regeneration have turned Hayes Valley into a haven for shoppers and bon vivants, a place where you can pick up a unique piece for your wardrobe or indulge in delectable, internationally inspired cuisine. Use our cheat sheet to guide you through your next sojourn in the 'hood.

The Best Boutiques in Hayes Valley

Acoté's beautiful sunlit interior features clothing and accessories by the chic French label.

(Janie Cai)

Stylish Threads for Guys and Gals

Francophiles (or anyone who wants to emulate the je ne sais quoi of Parisian style) should head directly to Acoté (597 Hayes St.), a chic boutique that stocks French label Cotelac's younger line for both men and women. Think louche, printed tops paired with slick, tailored trousers and a killer jacket—the perfect outfit for a date night at Jardinière (300 Grove St.) with its modern, French-inspired cuisine. // Rand + Statler (425 Hayes St.) and Azalea (411 Hayes St.) provide a well-curated selection of pieces from an extensive list of brands such as Nudie jeans and Ksubi, with the former stocking more high-end pieces from the likes of Comme des Garçons and Alexander Wang. There's also an in-house Aesop shop for you to stock up on your favorite Aussie bath and body line. // Just off the main street, the same proprietors own Welcome Stranger (460 Gough St.), a menswear-focused store that offers up plenty for the discerning male shopper with an affinity for the outdoors. // Dish Boutique (541 Hayes St.) carries a high-end line of independent designers such as US-made denim label AMO and The Lady & the Sailor. // At Steven Alan (445 Hayes St.), peruse the designer's men's and women's collections in a calm, light-filled interior. // Those who are looking for styles that mix luxe with urban edge can head over to Acrimony (333 Hayes St.) to pick up a stunning Rachel Comey top or even a splashy Yeezy hoodie. // Don't forget neighborhood mainstay MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) (387 Grove St.), where you can find some slick pieces by Dries Van Noten and Junya Watanabe. // Look for a small staircase to lead you down to Cary Lane (560 Laguna St.). The self-styled "SF's only designer sample outlet" is a large basement space with worthwhile pieces for those who love the thrill of searching out a bargain. // Just off the main street but definitely worth checking out is Gather (541 Octavia St.), which features a lovingly curated collection of handcrafted apparel, homeware and gifts that have been made in the US by local designers and crafters. // But if your style is more lounge than lunge then the laid back but luxe direction of the clothes and homeware at Reliquary (544 Hayes St.) might be right up your alley. Their personally selected vintage pieces, which they sell under their in-house label showcase a thoughtful eye for timeless design and effortless style. // Don't forget to swing by the newly opened Clare V (344 Linden St.) to browse through the delightful bags and accessories in the label's first-ever SF space. Pick up a new summer-worthy tote or a too-cute-for-school polka-dot pom pom tassel.

Basics, Performance Gear + Kids

Convert (556 Hayes St.) and Alternative Apparel (424 Hayes St.) sell everyday basics that are produced from organic cotton and manufactured in a sustainably. // Amour Vert (437 Hayes St.) is our go-to for style-savvy originals that champion a zero-waste philosophy. // LA-based label Industry of All Nations (528 Hayes St.) is the latest to open on Hayes, and focuses on small-batch collections that are developed in collaboration with local communities around the world. Check out their natural Alpaca knitwear made in Bolivia, which is dyed using natural pigments for a subtle variation of 16 natural shades. // Marine Layer (498 Hayes St.) is where you can stock up on T-shirts made from their uniquely soft fabric (it contains recycled beechwood). // Fans of handcrafted, individual pieces should check out Cotton Sheep (572 Hayes St.), which stocks hard-to-find Japanese brands such as Kapital and Fith (super stylish kids clothes imbued with a Japanese aesthetic). We spotted a shipment of covetable Visvim sneakers when we visited, alongside exquisite, hand-dyed indigo scarves and dresses. // Those who desire high-performance apparel however, should check into Triple Aught Design (551 Hayes St.) which stocks rugged outdoor attire made from innovative technical fabrics (the kind of shop Bear Grylls would dig). // Hit up the hip metal container store Aether (489 Hayes St.), which sells technical menswear that seamlessly combines form with function. // If you're shopping for your little one, be sure to drop into Kira Kids (542 Laguna St.), a gem of a shop that sells super-cute children's clothing.

Shoes, Lingerie, Leather Goods + More

(Courtesies of Warby Parker)
If you're looking for a special bit of bling or just something unique to pretty up your week, head over to Metier (546 Laguna St.), a gem of a jewelry store where you can score contemporary statement pieces as well as exquisite, handpicked vintage finds. // A sweet spot for shoe lovers, Gimme Shoes (416 Hayes St.) is where you can get eclectic designer footwear from brands such as Paul Smith and Robert Clergerie. // Next door at Bulo (418 Hayes St.), find California-made Cydwoq's sinuous leather sandals and a must-have pair of lilac velvet slip-ons by Free People. // Sneakerheads will dig Undefeated (516 Hayes St.) and its selection of street-style kicks alongside in-house merch, including collaborations with the likes of BAPE and Goodenough. // Pick out a new leather satchel for work at Will Leather Goods (568 Hayes St.). The Eugene, Oregon-based brand is known for its supple leather accessories and offers a lifetime guarantee on every piece. // Timbuk2 (506 Hayes St.) has been producing their iconic messenger bags from their Mission District factory since 1989, but they've since expanded to fanny packs, backpacks, and luggage, all with a utilitarian-cool vibe. // Looking for a new pair of inexpensive but fashion forward shades? For every pair that Warby Parker (357 Hayes St.) sells, the company also distributes a pair to someone in need—so those Perspex specs you've been eyeing will benefit more than just your new look. // Lovers of silky, lacy things have long made Hayes Street a destination for the too-gorgeous, high-end underpinnings at Alla Prima (539 Hayes St.), which also operates the Eres boutique (471 Gough St.), your go-to for luxurious, French-made swimwear. // If sexy corsets are more your thing, pop into Dark Garden (321 Linden St.), where you can tap into the expertise of their couture designers to create something that will be uniquely yours.

Bikes, Art, Home Goods + More

(Janie Cai)

The newest addition to the street is Ei Home, which stocks plenty of quirky products for the home, along with great gift pieces for when you're stumped.

Get inspired to make a two-wheeled commute with the myriad of colorful cruisers and city bikes at Public Bikes (549 Hayes St.). // For unique homeware and furniture pieces head over to Maker Moss (364 Hayes St.), which has plenty to satisfy any picky Min Hogg aspirant. // The sleek furniture and design-forward homeware picks at Minimal (364 Hayes St.) are also worth a gander. // Wander off the main street to check out Polanco (334 Gough St.), a top-notch gallery specializing in Mexican arts. // For more gifting ideas, head to the newly opened Ei Home (342 Hayes St.) the hip rebranded arm of Eurasian Homes that stocks a unique homeware, cute plush toys and a huge array of scented candles. // Comic fans will love Isotope, (326 Fell St.), for its terrific selection of comics and hard-to-find graphic novels, which you can peruse from the comfort of their red and white vinyl sofa. // You can have a miniature version of yourself done up (we aren't judging) at Doob 3D (235 Gough St.), which will print out a very realistic 3D replica of you that you can place on a pedestal or send to your mom for Christmas.

Where to Eat + Drink in Hayes Valley

(Courtesy of Nightbird)


Hayes Valley is a stone's throw from an arts circle that includes the Davies Symphony Hall (201 Van Ness Ave.), SF Jazz Center (201 Franklin St.) and Nourse Theater (275 Hayes St.)—in other words, the restaurants here are always packed. Culture vultures have long flocked to Absinthe (398 Hayes St.) for their delicious brasserie-inspired fare, while just across the road Chez Maman (401 Gough St.) is known for their delicious burgers and pots of savory mussels. // If seafood's your thing, make a reservation at Hayes Valley institution Hayes Street Grill (320 Hayes St.), which has been serving fresh, sustainably harvested fish and shellfish since 1979. // The latest to join the foodie fray is A Mano (450 Hayes St.), where you can indulge in all your pasta cravings thanks to chef Freedom Rains menu of handmade pastas and other traditional Italian dishes that change with the seasons. // Pläj Restaurant (333 Fulton St.) is where you can satisfy your Scandinavian food cravings, just tuck into some of their smoked fish croquettes or house-made beet-cured gravlax. // If you are looking to impress a date then consider taking them to Nightbird (330 Gough St.), to partake of Kim Alter's lovely Californian-inspired cuisine, or to sip on some of their delightful cocktails at their tiny but super chic adjoining bar Linden Room (330 Gough St.). before heading for a delectable dinner at the chic Monsieur Benjamin (451 Gough St.). // There is more modern French-inspired fare to be found at Dominique Crenn's bistro-style restaurant Petit Crenn (609 Hayes St.). // Make merry at Straw (203 Octavia Blvd.), which serves up carnival-inspired cuisine so yummy it'll have you grinning like a five-year-old. // For equally chill vibes, the no dress-code Rich Table (199 Gough St.) showcases an inventive menu that tastes as delicious as it sounds; plus, the team's new RT Rotisserie slangs succulent chicken and sides on the cheap. // Speaking of rotisserie, Souvla started this red hot trend. Have lunch or a casual dinner at the original location (517 Hayes St.)—don't skip the fro-yo. // All said, Cala (149 Fell St.) may be the hipped game in the hood. Make a reservation or try your luck for a seat at the communal table and go all in with mezcal cocktails and grilled whole fish tacos. // Of course, you can never go wrong with oysters and an afternoon burger on focaccia at the iconic Zuni Cafe (1658 Market St.).


True Sake (560 Hayes St.) sells sake instead of serving it. Owner Beau Timken's in-depth knowledge of sake has made his cozy store (the first in the U.S. dedicated to sake) a real destination for all who love the Japanese brew. // Wander into Arlequin (482 Hayes St.) where in addition to picking up a bottle (or case) of fine wine, you can also enjoy a housemade pastry in the garden patio of their Café (384 Hayes St.) next door. // Ensconce yourself in the cozy black and white interior of Fig & Thistle (313 Ivy St.) to try their choice selection of California beers and wines. // Get some fresh air with your punch bowl at the colorful Anina (482 Hayes St.) next door, which has an Instagram-worthy patio perfectly framed by fairy lights. // Nearby the Biergarten (424 Octavia St.) is an outdoor craft beer yard that is great for catching a pint with friends, especially when the sun's out. For a relaxed, neighborhood bar vibe, kick back at Dobb's Ferry (406 Haye's St.), with its leather bar stools and eight beers on tap. // If you like to people watch as much as you like to imbibe, Brass Tacks (488A Hayes St.) serves up some tasty cocktails—try the Brass Smash (Venezuelan rum, Cynar, mint and lemon); if you're lucky, you can scoop the window view while you enjoy it. // Show off your captain's drawl at Smuggler's Cove (650 Gough St.) while you sip on their famous hot buttered rum, or go all chichi over a bottle of bubbly at swank Champagne bar The Riddler (528 Laguna St.).

Coffee + Treats + Snacks

Those with a sweet tooth love Miette (449 Octavia St.), the dainty little sugar shop that is as pretty as it sounds. // Ice cream fans can enjoy a made-to-order cone thanks to Smitten's (432a Octavia St.) outpost overlooking Patricia's Green. // Pick up a cuppa at Ritual (432b Octavia St.) or get a pour-over from the original Blue Bottle Coffee (315 Linden St.) kiosk. // For a quick savory nosh, meat lovers should make a pit stop at the Fatted Calf (320 Fell St.), one of the best charcuterie shops in the city that also happens to serve a limited number of delicious lunchtime sandwiches.