Weekend Guide: The Best of San Francisco’s Mid-Market Neighborhood
With SHN’s Orpheum and Golden Gate Theatres as the focal point of your itinerary, here’s how to make the most of your time in San Francisco.
If you have tickets to one of SHN’s exhilarating productions this 2016-2017 Season, you can enjoy your pre- and post-theatre hours right in San Francisco’s booming Mid-Market neighborhood.
Whether you plan to attend a matinee, an evening show, or a whole weekend of theatre at the SHN Orpheum Theatre and/or SHN Golden Gate Theatre, here’s a comprehensive Friday-through-Sunday guide to the neighborhood that SHN proudly calls home.
The options for a pre-theatre meal seem to be growing by the day. One favorite, just a short walk from both the Orpheum and Golden Gate theatres, is The Hall—an airy food court–style eatery that describes its mission as “harnessing the power of food to build community.” And that’s just what it does: With communal tables and rustic decor, The Hall invites customers to sample some of SF’s most intriguing food vendors under one roof. Graze your way through Mexican pozole, Wagyu beef sandwiches and curry-filled naan wraps. It’s as if the pop-up food truck craze has found a welcoming indoor setting.
Other options along the heart of Market Street include the appropriately named Market, an industrial-style food hall—just a block from the Orpheum Theatre—that features both prepared foods and grocery items. Purveyors such as Slice House and Tapas Bar promise delicious dishes meant to be shared with friends. Don’t forget to pick up gourmet chocolates from Nuubia San Francisco before heading to the theatre.
For burgers with a San Francisco twist, try Popsons Burgers, where chef Adam Rosenblum’s freshly made, locally sourced patties and artisanal buns have earned a cult following. This eatery, which is a across the street from the Golden Gate Theatre, boasts distinctive add-ons, including truffle cheese and clover sprouts, but you can’t go wrong with the classic burger, pure and simple.
Half a block from the Orpheum Theatre is SAMS American Eatery, which features an array of comfort foods as well as international fare, including Korean tacos and mojado burritos. Additionally, SAMS helps put theatregoers in the mood with its ever-changing show-themed specials. For example, when SHN presented Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, SAMS created dishes in honor of its many hit songs: “I Feel the Earth Move” Black Mission figs, “Up on the Roof” pepper steak and “One Fine Day” for halibut, among others.
Post-show, cap off your evening with an inventive cocktail at Alta CA; the neighborhood spot has a late-night menu with snackables, including olives, oysters and deviled eggs.
Get your wake-up call at George and Lennie, a caffeinated enclave that opens at 7:30 a.m. Named after the main characters in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, this coffee shop in the heart of the Tenderloin offers a perfect balance of art, music and great coffee. For those off to a later start, drop by Equator Coffee & Teas located in the historic Warfield Building. The owners’ commitment to quality, sustainability and social responsibility comes through in every steaming cup. Plus, SHN patrons will receive 10% discounts simply by showing them your ticket to one of our shows!
Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., stop by Cable Car Cakes & Chocolates, right by the Golden Gate Theatre, for an inspired assortment of handmade confections. Pastry chef and owner Tracy Wolf creates decadent wonders that make a perfect gift for those at home—that is, if you can refrain from eating the goodies yourself.
Spend the afternoon delving into one of the city’s most colorful and fast-changing neighborhoods at the Tenderloin Museum. Visitors will learn about the Tenderloin’s rich history, which includes the legendary Black Hawk jazz club, a swinging venue in the ’50s and early ’60s that hosted Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk, among others. The area was also the focal point of San Francisco’s emerging LGBTQ rights movement as well as home to a diverse community of immigrants, blue-collar workers and artists throughout the years.
Defy superstition, and get a lucky start to your evening at Black Cat. Combining grit and glamour, the restaurant offers sharable plates, cocktails and artisanal champagne.
For a true fiesta, head over to the renovated Cadillac Bar & Grill, which traces its venerable roots back to a joint founded in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in 1926. Puffy tacos, mesquite-grilled fajitas and hearty platters are highlights of the menu.
If you want a rustic Italian experience, you can’t miss with Montesacro Pinseria-Enoteca. Named after a neighborhood in Rome, the enoteca specializes in pinsas (think pizza/flatbread), but also offers a fine selection of cheese and salumi to kick off your meal.
Walk up to the counter at Corridor and order some of the lively restaurant’s acclaimed offerings, such as “monkey” bread, Maine-style shrimp roll and pan-roasted salmon. Its prime location on Van Ness Avenue makes it a terrific option in the heart of the Civic Center. Even better, SHN members will receive 10% off their check if they dine at Corridor—this, however, does not include happy hour.
After the show, belly up to the bar at Danish beer hall Mikkeller, where you’ll find 42 selections on tap as well as specialty brews from all over the world.
Start the day with a visit to the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, held in United Nations Plaza from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go early to get first pick of the fresh and reasonably priced produce.
Continue your journey along of Market Street with a visit to the Living Innovation Zones (LIZ), temporary installations that encourage social interaction in public spaces. Overseen by the city’s government in collaboration with community partners, LIZ invites passersby to spend time engaging with one another and exploring the cutting-edge sonic, solar and kinetic projects on view.
Get a pre-show boost with a steaming mug of chai tea at the East-meets-West Chai Bar by David Rio, which serves chai products and fair trade coffees, as well as craft beers and wine. The curious will enjoy experimenting at the in-house Chai Lab, where they can sample new products and recipes, and provide immediate feedback.
Finally, this wouldn’t be San Francisco if you didn’t have at least one totally unexpected and unscripted experience. After the matinee, stroll over to Fellow Barber on Market Street for a haircut. Yes, a haircut. That is, if you’re lucky enough to get in. Customers can wait up to two hours for a shave or trim at this local hot spot (they specialize men’s haircuts, but will take women with short hair). With Fellow Barber’s affordable price point of about $45 per cut, there could be way crazier ways to wrap up a weekend of world-class wining, dining and theatre in this unforgettable town.
Where to Stay
An excellent base for your explorations of the Mid-Market area is Hotel Zelos, an architectural gem at the corner of 4th and Market streets. With spacious rooms, lots of amenities and an intimate, mysteriously named eatery called Dirty Habit, Hotel Zelos is a luxury oasis right in the center of the action. There are plenty of other options in the area as well; check out sftravel.com or your favorite travel site for a comprehensive listing.
The Orpheum and Golden Gate theatres are a short walk from the Civic Center BART/Muni Metro station. Alternatively, take the Muni bus; the closest lines are 5, 5R and 7. Lyft and Uber are convenient ways to get around, as are the ubiquitous blue bikes that are part of the Bay Area Bike Share system. If you are driving, both theatres partner with Parking Panda; you can make parking reservations ahead of time at the following nearby garages.
Mason O’Farrell Garage — 325 Mason St.
SOMA Grand Parking Garage — 1160 Mission St.
Turquoise Parking: Golden Gate Garage — 64 Golden Gate Ave.
Turquoise Parking: Turk Garage/Lot — 67 Turk St.
UC Hastings Parking Garage — 376 Larkin St.
Alta CA — 1420 Market St.; 415-590-2585; altaca.co
Black Cat — 400 Eddy St.; 415-358-1999; blackcatsf.com
Cable Car Cakes & Chocolates — 39 Taylor St.; 510-828-0154; cablecarcakesandchocolates.com
Cadillac Bar & Grill — 44 9th St.; 415-554-0181; cadillacbarandgrill.com
Chai Bar by David Rio — 1019 Market St.; 415-865-0677; chaibarsf.com
Corridor — 100 Van Ness; 415-834-5684; corridorsf.com
Equator Coffee & Teas — 986 Market St.; 415-614-9129; equatorcoffees.com
Fellow Barber — 973 Market St.; 415-344-0443; fellowbarber.com
George and Lennie — 277 Golden Gate Ave.; georgeandlennie.com
The Hall — 1028 Market St.; (415) 558-8293; thehallsf.com
Heart of the City Farmers’ Market — United Nations Plaza; 415-558-9455; heartofthecity-farmersmar.squarespace.com
Hotel Zelos — 12 4th St.; 415-348-1111; hotelzelos.com
Living Innovation Zones — At various locations along Market St.; sfliz.com
The Market — 1355 Market St.; 415-767-5130; visitthemarket.com
Mavelous — 1408 Market St., 415-626-8884; maveloussf.com
Mikkeller Bar — 34 Mason St.; 415-984-0279; mikkellerbar.com
Montesacro Pinseria-Enoteca — 510 Stevenson St.; 415-795-3040; montesacrosf.com
Popsons Burgers — 998 Market St.; 415-658-7554; popsons.com
SAMS American Eatery — 1220 Market St.; 415-626-8590; samssf.com
SHN Golden Gate Theatre — 1 Taylor St.; 888-746-1799; shnsf.com
SHN Orpheum Theatre — 1182 Market St.; 888-746-1799; shnsf.com
Tenderloin Museum — 398 Eddy St.; 415-351-1912; tenderloinmuseum.org