NFT San Francisco Haight Ashbury / Cole Valley

Haight Ashbury / Cole Valley

Hippies and anything free left the Haight when the housing prices soared. Expect to find gutter punk teens panhandling and selling eighths of oregano shake. Fashionable boutiques and expensive vintage clothing shops abound. Nearby Cole Valley is a fully self sufficient neighborhood where community is strong and locals go for a quiet meal.

Aside from vestiges of the '60s, shopping is the draw. Hunt for records at Amoeba Music and scour the vintage racks at La Rosa or Static. Then celebrate your finds with a very cheap drink at Gold Cane or something fancier at See more.



This Neighborhood Featured in...
SF’s Indie Flick Havens

By Cynthia Popper
San Francisco boasts not one, but three—count ‘em—three amazing independent movie houses that keep it real, totally devoid of commercial blockbusters and overexposed A-Listers. Cythina Popper makes the rounds to give you the details.
No Cover, No Minimum

By Deborah Crooks
Music in San Francisco: It's crazy, but true. See the city's fledgling musicmakers now before they molt, grow wings, take flight and make for the Northwest Passage, never to return.

Entertaining Crazy Uncle Charlie

By Jess Horrible
Crazy Uncle Charlie don't need no guidebook. Crazy Uncle Charlie don't act no fool. Take Uncle Charlie on a city tour he never saw coming with J. Horrible's step-by-step guide to keeping the tub-thumper fine and dandy.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda

People's Cafe
This comforting cafe perfectly exemplifies the warmth of the San Francisco people. The space is perfect for a meet up or for just spending an afternoon alone in your thoughts. You'll find locals congregating with friends, skaters stopping in for a quick bite, and literary folks enjoying a salad and writing notes in their Moleskins. This place serves up big plates of comfort Cali food, so be sure to grab a table and get some people watching down--you're in The Haight afterall.

Posted By:  Cristian Cartes
Photo:  Cristian Cartes

Zazie's may be my new favorite restaurant. It takes a bit for my lazy bum to leave the ever bountiful Mission dining hub, but this is one of the places that's well worth exploration. Cole Valley is the home of this tasty French bistro with an impossibly small kitchen. How they bust out such delicious dishes and at such timely manner is beyond me! First, for the brunch, fluffy, moist, ginger pancakes. The Pierre Noire is a meaty take on eggs Florentine with a light hollandaise sauce and crispy bacon. To accompany, some bubbly. Make them yourself, Elderflower mimosas were a pleasant, fruity discovery. A few weeks later I came back for dinner and had an equally satisfying experience. The nighttime menu also offers a prefix dinner for an affordable price and an array of options for every course. For chocolate lovers the petit pot de creme proves that like this restaurant size does not matter when it comes to flavor.

Posted By:  Emilie Russell
Photo:  Emilie Russell

Home Service Market
Home Service Market (known as George's to those in the area) is an unobtrusive, good old-fashioned San Francisco corner store, kinda like a New York bodega. It's the local NOPA go-to spot for things like cat litter, tampons, ice cream, malt liquor, chocolate, or Doritos. I've lived 2 blocks from this place for 5 years, and have always valued its convenience, but I was only recently turned on to their deli when a friend split a George's sandwich with me. Their sandwiches are superb, perfect for a picnic on the Panhandle or a quick, no-hassle dinner. I go ga-ga for the chicken breast (which George grills quite nicely) on a soft roll with everything (toasted of course), and my friend loves the roast beef with horseradish (she always asks George to pick the "right" cheese for her and he hasn't disappointed yet). So if you're in need of sundries or sandwiches, stop by George's--I'm sure he'll have what's right for you, too.

Posted By:  Emilie Russell
Photo:  Emilie Russell

Parada 22
Parada means stop in Spanish, and trust me, Parada 22 is a stop you'll wanna make if you're hungry in the Haight. Not only is it the only Puerto Rican restaurant on Haight Street (and I'm almost dead certain] in San Francisco), it is also one of the only joints serving up authentically good grub. Don't get me wrong, I love the Haight, but food just isn't one of its specialties. I stopped in with my sisters, and we did it up proper. We tried the pernil asado (roasted pork), clasic cubano emparedado (sandwich), camarones (shrimp), yuca al mojo (cassava root), and maduros (sweet plantains). Our hands-down faves were the sandwich and the shrimp. The sandwich was served on crispy french bread with spicy-sweet mustard, pickles and perfectly prepared pork. The camarones came cooked up in a creamy garlic sauce--we almost fought over who got the last one--and were served with habichuelas coloradas (red beans). To wash it all down, we tried (and enjoyed) the Cucapa Honey Ale. The vibe is open and friendly, welcoming locals and tourists alike. Service is very casual--ordering takes place at the counter and all flatware is compostable.

Posted By:  Cristian Cartes
Photo:  Cristian Cartes

Ploy II
If you've ever spent a some time in Thailand and experienced their delicious food, you might agree that it's hard to find good Thai food in the city that compares. Among several Thai places in the Haight, this is my favorite. Ploy II has a charm other's lack. Part of that has to do with the fact that it's located on the 2nd floor of an old Victorian. This house has been accommodated into a restaurant which makes it really quaint and cozy. From the window you can spy on the Red Vic Theater and the busy street below, where eager tourists and street urchins even more eager for their change unite. As for the food itself it's authentic Thai food, no fuss, no muss. Vegetarian and meat options are available, the classic pad thai is delicious, as are the crispy and flakey spring rolls and fresh papaya salad. The flavorless vegetarian potstickers on the other hand leave much to be desired. All in all though a satisfying taste of Thailand.

Posted By:  Molly Riordan
Photo:  Molly Riordan

Static Vintage Clothing
Hatin' on Haight? Yeah, you and me both. Arriving one dreary evening in Upper Haight, I wasn't on the sidewalk ten seconds before the bombardment of Haight hippies and smoke shops brought back nightmares from my New England Liberal Arts College days. But in the light of day there is happiness to be had on Haight: Static. The goods aren't just swept off the street from the good ol' peace-and-love days, but span a half-century of quality and personality. It does, however, have a quasi-boutiquey feel and hence leans toward overpricing. Then again, $40 peacoats may not attract most San Franciscans, but rest assured that a native New Yorker would kill for that deal. My best Static experience? I found a button-down Girl Scout blouse identical to the one I'd shunned in middle school for seven bucks. Rapture! Now I roll with Haight nostalgia and hippie-antics. Thank you, Static.   

Posted By:  David MacFadden
Photo:  David MacFadden

Amoeba Music
The UK’s Dizzee Rascal is making his first tour stateside in four years to help hype the fury of his latest release, Maths + English. And it just wouldn’t be right if he didn’t stop by the home of the label that recently took up his American distribution needs, Def Jux. That company’s CEO, who is well-renowned in his own right, El-P, is assisting Rascal throughout the duration of the tour, and will host this event to act as mediator between the Rascal and the Bay. Although Diz is steeped in UK grime, his latest release has proved a little more accessible to stateside heads. Tonight, 6 pm.

Posted By:  Elise Burger
Photo:  nft

The Alembic Bar
When looking for cocktails—when looking for anything actually—I generally avoid the Haight. It’s just too sad, with all the burned out authentic hippies, wannabe tourist hippies, and Rastafarian punks lining a single street. For the Alembic Bar, however, I will endure the trappings of Haight Street and suggest that you consider doing so as well. The Alembic features a small, carefully curated menu of tapas-sized plates (I suggest the Moroccan lamb “sliders”), home crafted cocktails (the Ladyslipper!), and local brews set inside of a comfortable, brick lined interior. Hint: while the Alembic is worth visiting any time, shack up for an afternoon to score personalized service and a full view of the bar.

Posted By:  Melanie Colburn
Photo:  Melanie Colburn

Central Coffee Tea & Spice
Because if you do, I may lose the last local, neighborhood coffee shop with a homey feel that is still free of hipsters and tourists. Central Coffee sits at the crux between Haight and Alamo Square, just a block from the Panhandle. This is a great neighborhood café with strong coffee, good tea, tasty eats—like a well-made lox bagel and veggie lasagna—and free Wi-Fi. If you happen to wander in here, people will think you live within a ten-block radius. If you come back, the barista and the regular clientele—laptops in hand as they quietly discuss the local art scene—will recognize you immediately. The place is musky and small with a mishmash of worn furniture, but warm and bright with big windows and a cozy feel. I do feel like I’m giving up a secret by telling you about Central café—but if you do come, please enjoy.

Posted By:  Melanie Colburn
Photo:  Melanie Colburn

The hippies may be gone and the Summer of Love may have passed, but if anything of that 1967 phenomenon remains, it’s here in San Francisco’s Haight district. This year, to mark the 40th anniversary of hippies and curious youth converging from across the country to share free love and sample illicit substances, a commemorative music festival was held on Labor Day that drew an estimated 50,000 to Golden Gate Park. In Speedway Meadows hundreds of bands took the stage playing psychedelic favorites and new music by musicians from the era. And while Janis did not take the stage, a few who claim to have jammed with her did. After the main show ended and the crowd of tourists thinned out, a drum circle formed in the center of the meadow. Having listened to a number of great drum circles during my time in Berkeley, I’d have to say this group struck me as some of the best musicians I’d ever heard, definitely trumping anything I’d heard on stage that day. And while the festival wasn’t quite the same as 1967 (I can imagine) there was some great music and of course the occasional bearded fellow dressed head to toe in tie-die. Let’s face it; it’s no easy task recreating a legendary and spontaneous counter-culture movement.

Posted By:  Melanie Colburn
Photo:  Melanie Colburn

Everyone needs a nice nook—and that may be the couch for most people; but in the city, it’s often the corner café (or bar, depending on your average blood-alcohol level). Now, there are hundreds of coffee shops in San Francisco—and I’m sure I haven’t been to them all (although, a sufficient number to begin mapping the best late night WiFi hotspots across the city with friends). But, sincerely, Coffee to the People is one of the best, by my standards. At the corner of Haight and Masonic, C to the P is one of the few authentically bohemian cafes in the city that retains a clean, comfortable atmosphere. Nice couches, a skylight, and yerba mate. It’s almost homey. That is, if Che were your dad and Joplin your mom. Because the walls are spackled with radical-liberal bumper-stickers and Tuesday night is open mic. If you want a strong taste of the Haight-Ashbury and Panhandle neighborhoods at once, this is the place for you. One request? Later hours. It’s popular enough to stay open far later. Spread the word—pass around a petition. I’m sure the CTP staff would approve.

Posted By:  Caroline Palmer
Photo:  Caroline Palmer

Your furry little friend is going to love Mondays. That's because it's "bring your doggie to dinner night" at Zazie, Cole Valley's sweet little French bistro. Not only is the heated back patio warm and inviting for you and your favorite pet, but think of the scraps that little guy is gonna get! He'll practically forgive you for all the years you've made him live in a 600 sq. ft. San Francisco studio. With entrees ranging from Black Truffle and Porcini Mushroom Ravioli to your typical Hamburger Zazie, you can't go wrong with any menu selection. And the French Onion Soup is quite simply out of this world. In honor of the weekly event, this animal-friendly establishment also offers Mutt Lynch's "Portrait of a Mutt" Zinfandel at $10 off the normal price. On Mondays of course.

Posted By:  Melanie Colburn
Photo:  Melanie Colburn

Panhandle Theater
If you stepped into the verdant stretch of the Panhandle on an idle weekend afternoon this summer, you might have spied an enigmatic structure beyond the lawn dotted with sun bathing, blanket book-readers, and dog chasers. If you approached, you might have caught the ambient melody of an acoustic trio emanating, with a growing audience composed of neighbors, Haight Street tourists, and passing bikers who halt their ride. The Panhandle Bandshell was built in late June by an all-volunteer corps tiling car hoods into a roof, nailing salvaged boards into a stage, stacking 3,000 water bottles to form a sound wall, and attaching green computer motherboards as decoration. The Black Rock Arts Foundation (a conspirator behind Burning Man) and several other local arts collectives received a grant from the Parks authority to create it entirely of recycled materials. For three months, the bandshell has attracted old-timey bands, bluegrass groups, circus performers, long-whip practitioners, and other moments of creativity and community. Alas, like a summer romance, the Bandshell was conceived as a temporary phenomenon and is doomed to be dismantled this September, yesterday in fact. Unfortunately, the NIMBY’s planted an expiration date on the bandshell as part of their approval of its construction.

Posted By:  Jennifer Anthony
Photo:  Jennifer Anthony

Oh, Cha Cha Cha. You are a dear friend. You were there for my friends and me with enormous pitchers of soaked-fruit sangria that afternoon we arrived, trembling, from trapeze school a few blocks away. You provided the lion’s share of the fun that night we foolishly decided to see The Blue Man Group. And this past weekend, you took the reins, dazzling and bewitching the group of out-of-towners I was entertaining for the day. We were smart and arrived at noon, before your adoring masses could congregate. We were already so very thirsty and thus grateful when the sangria was flowing within a couple of minutes. We hunkered down to take in the religious kitsch, lush urban foliage, thumping beats, and collective happiness of your admirers. Then it was time to partake of your bevy of tapas: Cajun shrimp, sautéed mushrooms, Jamaican jerk chicken, and an enormous plate of fried potatoes big enough to give the other tapas complexes. And then, more sangria. You waited patiently as we lingered far too long, happy to loll about like satiated seal pups. And what’s more—you turned a blind eye as we teetered a little on our way out.

Posted By:  Dan Johnson
Photo:  Dan Johnson

The Citrus Club
Hangover. Dry mouth, pounding headache, raging thirst, and a feeling that all is not right with the world. Most people go for a big, lard-laden breakfast or a burrito. I go to the Citrus Club for a bowl of noodles. They offer noodles in dozens of different variations, cooked entirely with citrus juices instead of oil. The result is a completely different take on the standard Asian noodle house. All of the dishes are noodle-based. Noodle bowls, fried noodles, noodle soups, and even the odd noodle-based appetizer make up the majority of the menu, with edamame and three types of spring rolls to add some variety. The straight noodles are better than the soups, but everything here is fresh and the service is quick. And it kills a hangover better than the greasiest potatoes and hash.

Posted By:  Catherine Wargo
Photo:  none

Pork Store Café
This is one of those weekend spots where there’s frequently a line out the door for brunch. Unlike many of the other eateries that people line up for, this one is worth it. Plus, since it’s in the Haight, there’s always some interesting sidewalk life to witness during your wait. While standing in line, someone will serve you coffee complete with half & half if you want it. Inside, sit at the counter and watch the cooks make your food on the grill or at a table under one of the many disconcerting cartoons of pigs while you eat your sausage. A varied menu at affordable prices offers dishes like Tim’s Healthy Thursdays (eggs with avocados and salsa on an English muffin,) Eggs In a Tasty Nest (eggs fried in the center of Texas toast pieces), or Green Eggs and Ham (self explanatory.) If you hate to wait, they’re open every day?skip the weekends and show up on a weekday. In my own East-coast opinion, this place is the closest one can find to a New York-style greasy spoon in health-conscious San Francisco.

Posted By:  Catherine Wargo
Photo:  David Lowe

Red Vic
The Red Vic is a Haight Street institution, but I walked by a hundred times recognizing Red Vic the icon without regarding Red Vic the functioning movie theater. In classic San Francisco style, it is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the city’s only worker owned-and-operated movie house. Started in 1980 simply because “all of our friends love to watch movies,” this theater boasts comfy couches and organic food with which to enjoy the eclectic selection of new indies and documentaries, blockbusters deemed worthy, and some classics. Spring’s lineup features the Bay Area-centric 24 Hours on Craigslist as well as Harry Potter and Walk the Line, with Breakfast at Tiffany’s thrown in for good measure. Each movie only plays for 2-7 days, so pick up a free schedule and plan your life around it.

Posted By:  Catherine Wargo
Photo:  Catherine Wargo

With Golden Gate Park so close by, Buena Vista often gets overlooked in favor of its much larger and well-known sister down the hill. According to the history books, residents gathered here to view the fires and destruction after the 1906 earthquake. During the “Summer of Love,” hippies used the park for eating, drinking, living, and free love. Today, Buena Vista features an intimate geography of pathways, staircases, lookouts, dog runs, and sports facilities. The best vantage point is a steep ten-minute climb from Haight Street; you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay and Marin County, Sausalito, Tiburon, Coit Tower, the Bank of America Building, and the Bay Bridge. It’s a great place to take dogs if you have them or nuzzle other people’s dogs if you don’t. Neighbors greet each other and their animal companions as they stride up and down the steep paths and staircases. Next time you are about to habitually head for Golden Gate Park, go the few extra blocks and check out Buena Vista.

Posted By:  Kevin Cutler
Photo:  Kevin Cutler

A music lover’s paradise, Amoeba offers an incomparable collection of new and used CDs to satisfy even the most discriminating music fan. Amoeba’s stock ranges from the popular to the obscure in every conceivable genre, from ambient to reggaeton. Started in Berkeley in 1990 as an alternative to the Tower Records and Virgin Megastores of the world, Amoeba quickly earned a reputation as the Bay Area’s best record store. Since then, Amoeba has opened larger stores in San Francisco and Los Angeles, earning accolades from such publications as Rolling Stone. The San Francisco location is almost overwhelming in its size, packing 100,000 titles into the cavernous confines of a former bowling alley. Far from a mere record store, Amoeba also hosts intimate live shows from such luminaries as John Cale, Supergrass, and the New Pornographers.

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Restaurants (21)
Nightlife (12)
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