Long a premier spot for dining and window-shopping, this strip a few blocks from the Civic Center keeps things fresh with new stores and restaurants.
The artful flavor combinations at Rich Table manage to taste simultaneously full and delicate. Raclette cream offsets the savory porcini doughnuts without feeling heavy, and the black cod with spring peas, olives, and charred onion. (415) 355-9085, richtablesf.com.
Hidden down alley-like Ivy Street in a former therapist’s office, Fig & Thistle has the laid-back feel of a friend’s stylish kitchen. The bar menu is split between domestic microbrews and single-variety domestic wines, such as La Marea’s deep and fruity mourvèdre, which uses grapes grown near Pinnacles National Park. (415) 589-7005, figandthistlesf.com.
Novels pack the corners of Two Sisters Bar and Books, a bistro with a bang-up drink menu. Try the Vesper-esque, a mix of scotch, gin, bitters, and citrus-tinged Cocchi Americano that’s a smokier twist on the cocktail James Bond ordered in Ian Fleming’s 1953 Casino Royale. Patrons are welcome to sip and read. Once a month the in-house Books and Booze Club meets for discussion and “thematically appropriate cocktails.” (415) 863-3655, 2sistersbarandbooks.com.
Everything at Zonal Home Interiors stands out for its character, including journals bound in covers from old library books such as The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore, and four-foot flamingos decorated in pink and black tile fragments. (415) 255-9307, zonalhome.com.
Order lamb slow roasted with lemon and oregano, and freshly made pitas and fresh veggies at the new Souvla. Run by Charles Bililies, an alum of Michael Mina and the French Laundry, it’s a trendy take on a Greek sandwich shop, complete with dry assyrtiko and spicy xinomavro wines. souvlasf.com.
There’s a freewheeling, urban market atmosphere to the collection of shops and restaurants that fill the outdoor space called Proxy: an ice cream shop that freezes its wares with liquid nitrogen; an asphalt-paved beer garden pouring liter mugs of German ale; three shipping containers stacked to create a clothing store. proxysf.net.
Skinny porcelain mugs in rich cobalt blue, coral red, and other warm colors by Sonoma potter Lyn Swan stand next to extra-tall recycled-glass champagne flutes at Maker & Moss, a new housewares shop with a rustic air. (415) 928-1287, makerandmoss.com.
Photography by Michael O'Neal (Rich Table); Eric Smillie (Fig & Thistle, Zonal); Blair Heagerty (Two Sisters); courtesy of Souvla (Souvla); courtesy of Proxy (Proxy); Clay Seibert (Maker & Moss)
This article was first published in April 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.