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San Francisco Weekender: the Mid-Market Neighborhood

New restaurants, bars, and performance spaces are blooming between Powell Street and the Civic Center.

  • SFJAZZ Center concert in San Francisco, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Courtesy of SFJAZZ
    Photo caption
    The 700-seat Robert N. Miner auditorium is part of the SFJAZZ Center, the first building in the country designed entirely for jazz performance.
  • The bar at PianoFight in San Francisco, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Chris Alongi
    Photo caption
    The "californicorn" behind the bar at PianoFight suggests the new venue will have a lighthearted and irreverent style.
  • Desserts from The Hall in San Francisco, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Asta Karalis
    Photo caption
    The Bake Shop, which made this sour cream cheesecake topped with candied Meyer lemon and cherries, is one of many stores in The Market.
  • Beer can decor at The Beer Hall San Francisco, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Jessica Stout
    Photo caption
    Old beer cans decorate the walls of The Beer Hall; new beers pour from the 20 taps.

San Francisco’s long-defunct Mid-Market district has roared back to life, partly to serve the growing number of tech outfits, including Twitter and Uber, that have settled on or near the stretch of Market Street between Fifth and 11th streets. Loads of restaurants have popped up, as have nightlife venues such as The Strand, a 1917 movie theater the American Conservatory Theater transformed into a 300-seat performance space. 

PianoFight boasts a pair of black box theaters and a cabaret stage hosting all sorts of acts, from local sketch comedy to science lectures. Oh, and live music, plays, films—all of it right in the restaurant, along with classic cocktails and no-fuss eats such as a fried chicken sandwich with spicy slaw.

Marin-based roaster Equator Coffees & Teas specializes in sustainable coffees including a luscious Mocha Java with notes of dark chocolate, almond, and berry. Its downtown location features a curved stone and mahogany bar and a vivid botanical mural by internationally known San Francisco artist Mona Caron.

High-ceilinged Kaya serves modern Jamaican fare, such as salt fish fritters and jerk chicken, and desserts that include chocolate-habanero soft-serve ice cream with pomegranate molasses.

The country's first stand-alone venue built specifically for jazz, the SFJAZZ Center boasts an intimate concert hall and a full schedule of top performers from around the globe. The second floor features three spectacular tiled murals created by Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet.

Tacos, sushi, or oysters? Pizza, tapas, or Malaysian noodles? At The Market, a food hall and marketplace on the ground floor of the Twitter building, the choices are many. Visit the grocery to take some of the gourmet treats home. 

Andrew and Jennifer Hall opened The Beer Hall as a labor of love, and it shows in the attention to craft brew currents—reflected in the ever-changing collection of 20 beers they keep on tap—and in the 14,000 bottle caps they and their friends saved for the massive collage that covers the back wall. 

This article was first published in March 2015 and updated in March 2019. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.