Friday, October 18, 2013

Out and About: Hayes Street, Hayes Valley, S.F.

Hayes Street, S.F.: On a recent Friday evening, after beginning their weekend with appetizers and drinks at restaurants in Hayes Valley, au courant men and women zig-zag in and out of boutiques in search of up-to-the-minute designs in a neighborhood known for its fashionable wares. Nearby, an ethereal mural, adorning a freshly revamped Beaux Arts theater, overlooks it all.
-Stephanie Wright Hession
All photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession. Copyright 2013 All rights reserved.

1. Dish

541 Hayes St.: A carefully edited collection of well-crafted pieces - from linen shirts to jeans to that little black dress, by new and established designers including Citizens ofHumanity, Frank & Eileen and Matta - a super-friendly staff and an understated space make shopping at Dish a pleasure. (415) 252-5997.

2. Alla Prima

539 Hayes St.: This fine lingerie shop features ultra-feminine bras and panties, ranging from sheer ebony fabric edged in white lace to solid, printed fabrics by Andres Sarda, Prima Donna and more from countries across Europe. Alla Prima also carries swimwear. (925) 864-8180.

3. Nida

544 Hayes St.: Nida specializes in women's basics by European designers such as Alberto Aspesi and Les Prairies de Paris. Family owned, Nida opened its first shop in Caserta, Italy, five decades ago, its second in San Francisco in 1995 and its third in New York in 2010. (415) 552-4670.

4. Fiddlesticks

540 Hayes St.: Endearing clothes, shoes, accessories and toys dot the inside of this children's shop. They include a Joules white dress adorned with a border of merry-go-rounds, Ferris wheels and the names of English coastal towns; Mary Janes by Livie & Luca; and Appaman plaid shirts and solid trouser shorts. (415)

5. Nomads

556 Hayes St.: Established in 1990, Nomads keeps the men's fashions crisp here by mixing classics - button-down shirts, pullover sweaters and leather belts - with paisley printed vests. Brands include Aiaiai, Field Notes, Grown & Sewn, Sutro and Universal Works. (415) 864-5692.

6. The Learning Wall

275 Hayes St.: For his mural "The Learning Wall," Keith Sklar painted totemic faces, a single pale blue eye and other mystical imagery, which covers an entire side of the Nourse Theatre. The theater is the new venue for City Arts & Lectures, which raised funds to restore the Beaux Arts treasure.

Of Note:

Since 1980, City Arts & Lectures has presented lectures, onstage conversations and performances with prominent members of the arts community. The Nourse Theatre, 275 Hayes St. (415) 392-4400. www.cityarts

Out and About: Octavia and Hayes streets, Hayes Valley, S.F.

With projects such as the Proxy, Hayes Valley continues to evolve as a place where enterprising dreamers - including inventors, chefs, fashion designers, artists and gardeners - with crisp ideas see their aspirations realized, not despite the economic climate but because of it.
-Stephanie Wright Hession
Photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession. Copyright 2013 All rights reserved.

1. Ritual Coffee Roasters

432 Octavia St.: Ritual sources its own coffee beans, freshly harvested within the past 12 months, by traveling to Costa Rica and Guatemala to meet with growers on their farms. Roasting in small batches, it creates single-origin espressos for a macchiato or a

2. Smitten Ice Cream

432 Octavia St.: From an ethereal mist - created by a liquid nitrogen ice cream maker developed by proprietor Robyn Sue Goldman - emerges made-to-order ice cream utilizing fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. Flavors include Tcho dark chocolate, creamy vanilla and two seasonal choices, which currently include a sublime hibiscus. (415)

3. Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley

Hayes and Octavia streets: The next time your dog or child frolics in this park, with its patch of lawn, domed play structure, public art, benches, tables and trees, think of Patricia Walkup, the park's namesake. A tireless neighborhood advocate who died in 2006, she played a pivotal role in revitalizing Hayes Valley.

4. Patxi's Chicago Pizza

511 Hayes St.: Although Patxi's serves up thin-crust pizza, the reason to eat here is for the Chicago-style stuffed pizza. Bring your appetite, but don't arrive in a rush: These pies are hearty, and you'll want to savor each bite - and they take 35 to 40 minutes to prepare and cook. (415) 558-9991.

5. La Boulange

500 Hayes St.: Order from the large menu board, find a seat and settle in or opt for a bistro table and chair outside. Select soup du jour, salad Nicoise or a croque monsieur. Be sure to save room for a sweet treat and a bag of mini palmiers to go. (415)

Of note

Ritual and Smitten are part of Proxy, a temporary, two-block project with providers of food, art and culture housed in repurposed shipping containers. Plans include constructing a permanent structure on the site in about four years.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Out and About: Coit Tower and Stockton Street, Telegraph Hill and North Beach, S.F.

In North Beach and nearby Telegraph Hill, learn about two women: a pioneering cattle rancher named Juana Briones de Miranda and Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a rebellious socialite who smoked cigars, wore men's clothing and gambled - and whose love of her adopted city spurred the creation of one of its most iconic landmarks.
-Stephanie Wright Hession
All photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession copyright 2013. 

***Coit Tower is closing mid-November through at least April 2014 for extensive renovations.

1. Coit Tower

1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.: Lillie Hitchcock Coit's admiration for firefighters stemmed from her youth. An honorary member of Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5, she bequeathed $118,000 with instructions to add beauty to the city. Arthur Brown Jr. and Henry Howard designed this 210-foot Art Deco tower, which was dedicated in 1933.
2. Coit Tower murals
In the rotunda, view some of the 27 murals created by a group of prominent local artists in 1934, part of the Public Works of Art Project. They illustrate people living and working in urban and agricultural settings.

3. Coit Tower views

Take the small elevator and a short flight of stairs to Coit Tower's 180-foot-high observation deck. Even if you're not a tourist, after taking in the magnificent 360-degree panorama of the city skyline, the San Francisco Bay and more, you'll wonder what took you so long to get up here.

4. Mama's

1701 Stockton St.: For three generations, the Sanchez family has run its popular breakfast spot overlooking Washington Square. Amid sunflower yellow walls, indulge in billowy omelets, Dungeness crab Benedict and country-style potatoes. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tues.-Sun. (415) 362-6421,

5. Washington Square

Filbert, Stockton, Union and Powell streets: With its benches, lawn area, children's playground and views of the facade of SS Peter and Paul's Church (currently obscured by scaffolding), this North Beach park exists on land once belonging to Juana Briones de Miranda, who established a farm here in the former Yerba Buena.

6. Washington Square Inn

1660 Stockton St.: Not ready to go home yet? Partake in some Italian fare at one of the North Beach restaurants and then make it an overnight escape with a stay at this cozy, 15-room bed and breakfast. Perks include complimentary hors d'oeuvres, wine and Wi-Fi. (415) 981-4220.

"Picturesoteric" mural by San Francisco artist Sirron Norris

While walking in the Mission District in S.F. one day, I happened across "Picturesoteric," a wonderful mural painted by San Francisco artist Sirron Norris.

-Stephanie Wright Hession
All photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession copyright 2013. 

To learn more about Norris go to: