Being a local San Franciscan I have seen so many shops and stores change hands in the last several years that it seems like there is a new restaurant or store that pops up every month. Rising rents have led to many of the original businesses leaving and the area becoming the most gentrified that it has ever been before. The fact that the people are non-flashy, friendly, and the real deal is what makes the people in this place unique. It is okay to be different and everyone is different in their own special way here on Valencia Street. We have the hipsters, techies, families and strollers, tourists, as well as the vibrant latino community. Here is a list of my 5 favorite things to do on Valencia Street.
1. Eat at one of the amazing restaurant and eateries
There are many types of cuisines on and around Valencia Street including Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, El Salvadorean, American, Indian, and Japanese. Grab a pupusa at Pachitas Mexican El Savadorian Restaurant No. 2 on 16th, burrito or tacos at Pancho Villa Taqueria, indian at Pakwan Restaurant, Chinese at Big Lantern, Vietnamese at Thanh Tam or Mau. Limon Rotisserie for their amazing roasted chicken. Puerte Allegre for their great chicken fajitas. Curry Up Now for fusion Indian. Dandelion Chocolate for desserts. Serrano’s Pizza for their tasty huge slices of pizza. Jay’s cheesesteaks for their cheesesteaks and cheese fries. Sidewalk Juice for their freshly made to order juices.
Honorable mentions: Rhea’s Market and Deli for their sandwiches. La Rondalla Restaurant and Cantina for Mexican fare. Udupi Palace for vegetarian indian dosas. Aslam’s Rasoi for indian food with meat. Range Restaurant and Delfina for fancier fare. Arizmendi Bakery for pizza and baked goods. Tartine Bakery for their tarts and Bar Tartine. Bi Rite Creamery ice cream of course. Papalote Mexican for healthy Mexican.
2. Browse through the creative one of a kind trendy shops
There are no cookie cutter big box stores here. Each shop is bay area local and has unique eclectic products which are interesting to browse through. The plentora of these unique shops line the Valencia Street Coridor. Some honorable mentions worth checking out include the Pirate Supply Store, Cary Lane, Serendipity, Therapy, Western Wear, Shoebiz, Paxton Gate, Borderland Books, Dogeared Books, Currents, Chrome, Aldea Ninos, Luca Ravioli, Cut Loose, Anthony’s Cookies, Buffalo Exchange, Painted Bird, Natural Resources (baby, nursing, children goods).
3. Visit the graffiti murals
4. Have a drink at a bar
Whether or not your drink of choice is a tasty blended margarita at Puerte Allegra, a beer at Monk’s Kettle (around the corner on 16th St and Valencia), or something stronger at Blondie’s grab a drink and people watch. Bar hopping is easy here.
Try Delerium for a drink with some non-flashy dancing in the backroom, Double Dutch Bar with their cool collection of 80s boom boxes, Elbow Room for dancing upstairs and pin ball machines. Berretta for fancier drinks.
Honorable mentions: Gesalt, Dalva, Skylark, Killowat, Phoenix Bar, Amnesia, Velvet Cantina (very strong drinks), Latin American Club, Clooneys.
5. Check out a Cafe
Dandelion Chocolate for chocolate infused coffees or hot chocolate, desserts, and frozen hot chocolate. Ritual Coffee roasters for drip coffee. Muddy Waters for a low key coffee spot.
Honorable mentions: Javalencia, Mission Creek Cafe, Muddy’s.
Sidenote: Other things to do around Valencia Street in the Mission include hanging out at Mission Playground Pool and Park where there is a playground for kids, water squirting area for kids, soccer field, tennis courts, community center, and outdoor swimming pool. The Marsh has unique shows and events. Live music and concerts and Citadel. Live music some nights at Elbow Room. Walk to Dolores Park. Do yoga at Yogatree or Integral Yoga.