The Strand Theater (©Bruce Damonte)
You won’t find any of San Francisco’s quintessential features—cable cars, hills, Victorian homes, piers, grand bridges and views—in the central Mid-Market neighborhood. But if you’re the sort of traveler who's not turned off by grittier, evolving urban corners or if you just happen to find yourself in the area, consider sticking around awhile to experience another side of San Francisco life. You’ll eat and drink well, find no shortage of arts and culture and share the streets with employees of some of the world’s most powerful tech companies.
Where to Shop
Just a few years ago, the Mid-Market neighborhood was neglected and full of vacant storefronts, but it’s slowly been coming into its own, a process accelerated by the arrival of the Twitter, Dolby and Uber headquarters. Today you can grab groceries, sundries or a to-go meal at the gleaming Market located in the first floor of the Twitter building, shop for a new pair of wheels at Huckleberry Bicycles and get a trim at the stylish barbershop Fellow Barber.
Things to Do
One contributor to the up-and-coming neighborhood’s transformation story is the reopened Strand Theater. Built in 1917, the former derelict theater is now a striking red, state-of-the-art performance space for the American Conservatory Theater and operates a cafe in its sleek lobby. Nearby is the Asian Art Museum, housed in a striking beaux-arts-inspired building containing one of the world’s largest collections of Asian art. Market Street is flat, pedestrian-friendly and equipped with well-utilized bike lanes, but you can also travel up and down the city’s main thoroughfare riding one of the restored streetcars (some 150 years old) of the F-Market & Wharves Muni line.
The Best Restaurants in Mid-Market
You can have a fine dinner at the cool Alta CA, owned by California cuisine leader chef Daniel Patterson, order the American burger and fries at the popular Popsons or enjoy live music at a temporary eclectic food market known as The Hall. The new casual spot Kagawa-Ya Udon Noodle Company, specializing in Japanese noodles, is already a lunchtime hit.
Where to Drink
Start your morning with an espresso at Equator Coffees & Teas, get an afternoon pick-up at Chai Bar—where you can choose from nearly a dozen flavors—or go out for cocktails and live jazz with an underground vibe at the bar Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio. If brews are more your thing, it's all about California beer—with 24 types on tap—at the Fermentation Lab restaurant and bar.