Tasty restaurants, pricey retail characterize urban neighborhood

Hayes Valley impresses.


Patricia’s Green, a large park with a playground and rotating art installations, is at the heart of Hayes Valley. Two light sculptures are the current featured piece in the pack and will be installed until November.

Home to an array of small clothing shops and specialty shops selling essentials ranging from luggage to bikewear and self-proclaimed “America’s first sake store.” Hayes Valley really does have something for everyone.

Pricey, young and local boutiques such as Acotè and GANT dominate Hayes Valley — catering to a demographic attracted to minimalistic but expensive style, spare decorations like analog clocks or ceramic vases, and other tasteful materials including leather work bags and personalized stationery. The generic Hayes Street white tee is approximately $70.

Shoe merchants, outnumber small businesses with brands including Ecco for the outdoorsy, Undefeated for the skaters and sneakerheads, and Paolo for those making a fashion statement.

Not only does Hayes Valley have a hip fashion scene but satisfies the hipster’s hunger with plenty of fresh food spots.

A lineup of the breakfast haven Stacks, Chicago-style pizzeria Patxi’s and modern Greek rotisserie Souvla line the busy blocks — attracting tourists and locals alike for breakfast, lunch and dinner on any day of the week. Older classics like French bistro Chez Maman, signature seafood spot Hayes Street Grill, and French bakery Boulangerie, however, have their own followings and faithful patrons.

Although the neighborhood sports a broad range of eateries, Souvla is reason enough to visit Hayes Valley. Menu highlights include the pork shoulder sandwich, a rich Gyro-like wrap with tender meat and fresh cherry tomatoes, followed by Greek fries with a side of “granch” — ranch dressing flavored Greek yogurt — finished off with Greek olive oil and flaky sea salt frozen yogurt.

A pastel pink awning with a faded chartreuse trim and potted red peonies welcome passersby into French patisserie Miette, a Hayes Valley treasure, for dessert.

The patisserie sports Miette-branded lollipops, hard candies and peppermints, pre-bagged for purchase and sold alongside an incomparable selection of imported European delicacies and an unreal variety of licorice from Switzerland to France. Bakers also prepare cupcakes, small cakes and classic French macaroons daily.

In the opposite direction, sweet tooths are satisfied at The Loving Cup, a rice pudding-based, frozen yogurt shop offering a crowd favorite, chilled coconut pudding. The chia-textured dessert is refreshing with a generous mix of baked coconut shavings.

A coffee-fueled internet cafe Artis is next door, neighboring Gather, a local artist’s craft store with art classes offered on a weekly basis in all mediums like knitting, woodcarving, printmaking and perfume making.

Hayes Valley is located on Hayes Street between Civic Center and Alamo Square neighborhoods. It is reachable by the 5, 6, 7 and 21 Muni bus lines.