Hayes Valley is one of San Francisco’s great success stories. Little visited and barely noticed just as few years ago, today it is home to some of the city’s most in-demand shops and eateries.
History: Before Europeans settled in Hayes Valley, an Ohlone tribe came to the area to forage for seasonal foods in and around Hayes Creek, which flowed only in winter. Hayes Creek is underground now, one of San Francisco’s many mysterious hidden waterways. The neighborhood’s moniker comes from Thomas Hayes, a local landowner whose brother pulled city hall strings to get Thomas’s name on the most prominent street. Not long ago, Hayes Valley languished beneath the towering Central Freeway, which quite literally cast a shadow over the neighborhood. When 1989’s Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the freeway beyond repair, neighbors rallied to have the entire structure torn down for good.
Don’t Miss: One of the city’s culinary crown jewels, Hayes Valley boasts the always in-demand Zuni Cafe, the Cajun-meets-California flavor of the Boxing Room, and the subtle class of Absinthe Brasserie. While every neighborhood has its share of Italian, Mexican, and Japanese cuisine, Hayes Valley’s secret weapons are Teutonic: one of the city’s best German restaurants, Suppenkuche, and the beloved Biergarten. A German-style outdoor bar plopped on city property formerly occupied by the Central Freeway, the Biergarten is surrounded by a veritable artisanal carnival: coffee stands, bike tours, art shows in abandoned shipping containers, and Smitten Ice Cream, made before your eyes using liquid nitrogen. On the nonculinary side of things, Hayes Valley’s SF Jazz Center has been grooving along for two years now, offering new concerts every week.