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Writer Josh Sens

Historic Spots Near the Giants' Ballpark in San Francisco

Posted by Josh Sens on March 12, 2012
Hotel Utah in San Francisco, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Saket Vora/Flickr
Photo caption
The Hotel Utah brings in lively crowds with live music.

Like many of the buildings in the China Basin area, the Giants’ home is of recent vintage; it opened in the spring of 2000. But the surrounding neighborhood has a history that predates the arrival of baseball by the Bay. If you look closely at the buildings, you realize that some of that history lives on. (Area code is 415.)

Take the Hotel Utah Saloon, a popular bar and live music venue whose origins reach back to Barbary Coast days. It opened in 1908, 28 years before the Bay Bridge, and soon became a haven for gamblers, hustlers, thieves, and other characters of ill repute. Today, of course, the saloon has a much cleaner reputation. What’s more, the music’s hip and the beer on tap is cold. 500 Fourth St., 546-6300.

A few blocks away, at Sixth and Brannan streets, the San Francisco Flower Mart, a block-long market, bustles with floral wholesalers. It has operated at its current location since 1956 and remains a colorful spot to get a common carnation or an exotic orchid, or pretty much any flower in between. It’s open to the public Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 640 Brannan St., 392-7944,

Closer to the water—in fact, right on the water, with an outdoor patio that sits above San Francisco Bay—is Red’s Java Hut, a salty-dog redoubt and popular pregame hangout that has been in business for more than 90 years. The exterior is weather-beaten and the menu basic (egg salad sandwich and a Pabst Blue Ribbon for $7), but the food satisfies and the setting, with the whitecaps breaking on the bay and the gulls tilting and whirling above you, is imbued with timeless charm. Pier 40 on the Embarcadero near Townsend Street, 777-5626,

This blog post was first published in March 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.