San Francisco Neighborhood Guide - Haight Ashbury
Some people will say that the best thing about The Haight is “Cha Cha Cha” a tapas restaurant that serves SF’s tastiest Sangria. Most (smart) people will not disagree. The popularity of the restaurants in this neighborhood speaks to the quality of the food here. Just to name a few, restaurants like Zazie, Nopalito and Parada 22 really stand out.
The Haight is a culturally-rich and colorful neighborhood, which historians agree is the birthplace of the hippie movement. Bordered by Divisadero Street, Buena Vista Avenue, Stanyan Street, and Fulton Street, it dead-ends into the Golden Gate Bridge Park. On pleasant days, you can see many tourists and locals riding their bikes to the park to see the Bridge for the first time or return to lounge in their favorite spots.
Walking through the streets, you can see glimpses of that “past hippie life” because of thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange and Goodwill, the incense shops and the painting of “The Grateful Dead” on 710 Ashbury Street. The colored Victorian Houses or “Painted Ladies” which survived the 1906 earthquake definitely add to the nostalgic air of this district. These can be found at 710–720 Steiner Street, across the street from Alamo Square park. In the 60s and 70s, people were separating these homes into multiple units. In the 10’s they are trying to preserve the original designs. It seems to me that they are tastefully bringing this district into the 21st century.
So, the next question is, “What can I do in Haight Ashbury?” Like many other neighborhoods in San Francisco, shopping is a big deal. And the shopping in “The Haight” mirrors the atmosphere with stores like Piedmont Boutique - they sell fetish wear, lingerie and feather boas and the Jammin’ on Haight that offers tie-dye clothing and The Grateful Dead keepsakes.
One of The Haight’s most famous attractions is a festival held once a year in the summer.
The Haight Ashbury Street Fair (HASF) is held every year on a sunny second Sunday in June. It provides exposure and increased revenue for over 200 small merchants in the Haight Ashbury District who bring to the fair – arts & crafts, music and food. One of the highlights is the official fair poster that is selected via entries to the yearly contest. As you can probably imagine, the images are very reminiscent of hippie culture. For example this year’s image featured a green-skinned flower-child peering into a future-ball. Maybe you can try your luck at next year’s competition!
As with almost every neighborhood in San Francisco – the food is amazing. From the unconventional Alembic that serves pork belly and bone marrow to the more traditional Ice-cream Bar and Soda Fountain that reminds one of poodle skirts and striped red straws to the Mexican-inspired eateries like The Little Chihuahua Mexican Restaurant. I say, why not give all of them a try.
The Haight is truly one of San Francisco’s most vivacious and eccentric districts. You will be missing out if you never cross its borders.
If you are a local, what do you like about this neighborhood?