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Turning Over the Tenderloin

Against all odds, empty storefronts are being filled with fashion, cocktail bars, and art.


Let’s be honest: The Tenderloin is still the Tenderloin. You’re still more likely to find used needles in its gutters than designer dresses in its shop windows. But this is San Francisco in 2016, and even our most troubled neighborhood is showing signs of a commercial awakening. Here, 16 arrivals—from jazz joints to galleries to craft beer slingers—that are infusing new economic life into the area.

Pacific Cocktail Haven (P.C.H)
580 Sutter St.
There may be a mai tai on the menu, but that’s the extent of the tiki vibe at this comfortable, dog-friendly bar. Share the Wet Hot American Summer (bourbon, sherry, white tea, peaches, honey, citrus, salt, bitters), a six-person punch presented in a crystal decanter ($60).

687 Geary Blvd.
Jason Lindley, an Englishman, and his Scottish wife, Sharon, opened this cozy, U.K.-inspired café in August, offering PG Tips tea, Sightglass coffee, the Midwife and the Baker breads, and snacky delicacies from across the pond like Welsh rarebit: toast topped with cheese and chutney.

Hitachino Beer & Wagyu
639 Post St.
This 40-seat spot, courtesy of the Japanese brewery behind Hitachino Nest Beer, will be serving 10 exclusive beers and izakaya-style snacks like braised wagyu beef and seafood skewers by chef Noriyuki Sugie. Snag a seat at the bar, made of wood from a vintage sake press.

835 Geary Blvd.
The co-owners of this year-old ice cream shop are Deadheads now obsessed with finding mind-blowing flavor combinations. Their rotating list of decidedly grown-up scoops includes gold-dusted sprinkles, heirloom melons, tequila, Kaffir lime, or basil reduction. Even the buckwheat cones are hand-rolled.

JSG South
495 Ellis St.
After opening her original, eponymous gallery here in 2008, Jessica Silverman quietly unveiled a semisecret pop-up across the street this summer, JSG South, where a joint show by Los Angeles artist Alexandra Noel and French artist Naoki Sutter-Shudo opens September 2.

501 Geary Blvd.
Streetscapes by artist Amos Goldbaum cover the walls of this rustic Italian trattoria, where checkerboard tile and red banquettes lend a throwback feel. Order a thin-crust pizza (from $12) and the Italian margarita, made with Campari, orange marmalade, grapefruit, and Arette silver tequila ($12).

Kristina Holey
864 Post St.
As the fashion set’s go-to facialist, Kristina Holey gained a following in Paris and New York before settling in San Francisco. Her petite spa, adorned with vessels of dried flowers, essential oils, herbs, and other skin soothers, evokes a tastefully decked living room.

The Saratoga
1008 Larkin St.
This two-story watering hole from chef Mark Sullivan (Spruce, the Village Pub) will open later this month, serving craft cocktails and bar fare like pork belly “monkey bread,” seven-spice chicken sliders, and a juicy Saratoga burger.

Black Cat
400 Eddy St.
Chef Ryan Cantwell (formerly of Chez Panisse and Zuni) and bar manager Gabriel Lowe (Locanda) serve food and drinks until 1:30 a.m. at their swanky new supper club. Sip Sazeracs at the in-the-round bar upstairs, or settle into the velvet banquettes below to catch live jazz and cabaret acts.

466 Eddy St.
Swathed in chalkboard slate, redwood beams, and oyster-shell-flecked clay, this Japanese-inspired bathhouse and tearoom is the passion project of builder Sunny Simmons and artist Caroline Smith. Post-treatment, sip sake or loose-leaf tea at the concrete-and-Doug-fir bar up front.

826 Valencia
180 Golden Gate Ave.
A two-story octopus is splashed across the side of this former liquor store, now the second S.F. outpost of the kids’ tutoring center. Inside, adults can explore the playful emporium of books and imaginative necessities (Unicorn Horn Polish?) when kids make a beeline for the tree house.

Ales Unlimited Beer Basement
222 Hyde St.
This hopheads’ paradise presents a smorgasbord of local, national, and international brews. In addition to 10 rare, rotating taps from breweries like Benoit-Casper, the Lost Abbey, and Hangar 24, the Bible-length menu has over 100 bottles, shipped fresh weekly. 

Barber Walter’s Joint
1014 Larkin St.
Impeccably coiffed barber Walter Bishop-Jones opened this eight-station, 3,800-square-foot shop in July, offering old-school cuts, fades, and undercuts (from $30). The space feels more like a local hang than a rushed chop shop, with regulars sprawled across the leather couches.

Hero Shop
982 Post St.
This is what you get when a former Vogue editrix veers off Union Square and decides to set up shop: a lavishly art-directed high-end boutique packed with leather, silk, and cashmere garb from designers like Adam Lippes, Gabriela Hearst, and Creatures of the Wind.

Chandran Gallery
459 Geary Blvd.
Opened last fall by 28-year-old artist Ashley Chandran, this gallery features splashy, immersive exhibits—like the recent installation of thousands of suspended flowers by Rebecca Louise Law. Check out the work of painter (and Kaws studio assistant) Sam Friedman, starting September 2.

445 Geary Blvd.
After more than a year of renovations, the 94-year-old theater will reopen in January with the Tony Award–winning Fun Home. The painstakingly restored lobby will showcase new digital displays alongside a gleaming, 15-foot Italian marble bar.

Originally published in the September issue of
San Francisco

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