(Last) Evening in Hayes Valley and SoMa

A visit to Rare Device was at the top of my list – on par with Shane’s trip to Treats – so we headed there after our lunch at Monk’s Kettle. I’ve been internet friends with Rena, one of the owners, since sometime in the early aughts, back when I was a bored customer service wage slave and spent a great deal of time reading fun blogs from internet strangers. (Hmm, sounds familiar.) Anyway, it was wonderful to finally meet Rena and to see the cute SF store – I’d been to the late Brooklyn location, but had missed her on that trip.

Rena asked if we’d been over to Hayes Valley yet – we hadn’t, and were immediately convinced to make it our next stop by her mention of Miette, a sweet candy store a short walk away.

Miette, Hayes Valley
Photo by tastingsf

After careful scrutiny, I came away with a wee bag of salty Dutch licorice and an Idaho Spud, one of the candy bars discussed in Candy Freak, which I recently read and enjoyed. The licorice was fantastic, with a much broader range of flavors and salts than I expected. The Idaho Spud was kind of like a Mounds bar, except with a weird agar-agar texture. Not unpleasant, just odd.

While I was in candy heaven, Shane sought out a bathroom and caffeine at Boulange de Hayes. I found him with an espresso and a few wee macarons – the next big thing in the dessert world, but still a bit of a novelty for us. We both liked the size and crunch of the cookies – we tried coffee, pistachio, and one other that I can’t recall.

I feel I would be remiss in talking about our wanderings in Hayes Valley if I didn’t mention two important things. First, we bought matching backpacks at Timbuk2. $40 each, really sturdy, a great deal! Second, I met an awesome corgi named Zoe while Shane looked at glasses. Zoe was just hung around letting me scratch her ears until someone mentioned cookies, at which point she started doing hilarious pirouettes. You earned that cookie, Zoe.

We had some time to kill before our dinner reservation, so we after an in-depth map consultation, we headed towards City Beer Store. It was a fair walk in blustery weather with our new backpacks strapped on, so we were happy to take a load off with a great beer.

City Beer Cuddles

City Beer Store is tucked away off the beaten path – the sort of place you’d never spot unless you were looking for it – which makes it ideal for a quick drink after work or before an evening engagement. We dug in the cooler – with some help from the bartender – to find another Summer Solstice for me, while Shane debated whether or not to buy a 2 day old bottle of Pliny (he didn’t). We could’ve comfortably hung out and drank for an hour or more, but seafood awaited us!

Anchor & Hope
Photo by magerleagues

Anchor & Hope came highly recommended from Bon Appetit, among others, so we decided that it would be a perfect splurge for our last night in town. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the possibly the most disappointing dining experience we had on our trip.

We were seated right away, and after some time with the menu, our server took our order, suggested wine pairings – and then went home sick. Time passed, and no server or wine. Another server arrived with our entrees: seafood risotto for me, and a seared ahi tuna for Shane. No wine.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a tentative seafood eater. I can do most shellfish, and am working my way up through meaty white fish. I had carefully checked the menu before ordering, and so was surprised to have four sizeable chunks of salmon in my risotto. Salmon! My food kryptonite! I ate one piece, then ate around the rest as it quickly went cold – not how you want to be eating when you’re paying $25+ per plate. Shane enjoyed his tuna, but liked the accompanying sausage and beans even more. Our wine finally arrived, but only after we’d flagged down another server. Honestly, the highlight of the meal for us was the Blue Bottle milkshake and wee maple macaron that we split for dinner, both of which were sweet and delicious without making us feel guilty about the indulgence.

I’ve subsequently been told that Anchor & Hope can be hit or miss – and I received a very apologetic email in response to my complaint – but I still can’t shake the disappointment of that last special meal.

If you go:
Rare Device
1845 Market St (between Laguna & Guerrero)
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 863-3969

Sweet housewares shop and design-y gallery spot on Market.

Boulange de Hayes
500 Hayes St (Hayes & Octavia St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 863-3376

Busier than the Noe Valley location, but excellent macarons!

Miette Confiserie
449 Octavia St (between Linden & Hayes)
San Francisco, CA 94101
(415) 626-6221

Magical candy store with big jars of all manner of sweets.  Don’t even think about your dental bills.

Timbuk2 Store
506 Hayes St (near Hayes & Octavia St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 252-9860

Timbuk2’s first retail location, full of fun bags and lots of heavy stuff with which to test the bags.

City Beer Store
1168 Folsom St (between Hallam & Langton)
San Francisco, CA 94103-6028
(415) 503-1033

Tiny beer counter tucked away on a busy, somewhat industrial-looking street.  Great selection – a few beers on tap, and they’re happy to open anything you buy from the case or the shelves.

Anchor & Hope
83 Minna St (between Shaw Alley & 2nd)
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 501-9100

Highly rated seafood spot downtown, but our experience was meh.  Probably not worth your money, though the lobster rolls looked pretty epic


(Last) Morning in the Castro and the Mission

After a long day of beer and coffee and driving, neither of us were really up for a big dinner, much less going far out of our way for dinner. Ed gave us a few recommendations in his neighborhood, and we ended up just walking down 24th and checking out menus until we found something that looked good. Maybe we should’ve walked further, but on a blustery night, gnocchi with five hour braised wild boar sounded comforting. We shared the gnocchi and a zucchini salad with truffle oil and black olive crostini at Lupa Trattoria – nothing too fancy, just simple Italian bistro fare that warmed our insides. A short walk back to Ed’s and we were out, cuddled up under a fluffy duvet.

With one full day left in SF, we had a lot to do! Or a lot of nothing to do – a whole day with no agenda except wherever our feet and stomachs would take us. Ed lives in the Noe Valley, a cute neighborhood not unlike Del Ray – full of cute restaurants and shops populated by young families with dogs. We stopped for cappuccinos at La Boulange de Noe, where we also tried our first canelé, a French custard pastry baked in a mold so that the outside is golden but the inside is a little runny.  We were underwhelmed by the canelé but not by the giant jar of Nutella on the condiment bar. Boulange de Noe, please forgive us for being gauche, but that spoonful of Nutella was too good not to share.


Full of sweets, we walked down 24th into the Castro, then spent the rest of the morning wandering around. After an hour or so of walking and talking, it was time for our second cup of coffee of the day – this time at Ritual. Comet often has coffees from Ritual, so while the beans didn’t have the same draw as those at Four Barrel or Blue Bottle, we were still looking forward to trying them. We killed some time with a double rainbow macchiato (me), a cappuccino (Shane), and our books. Ritual isn’t as intense as Four Barrel or as aesthetically pleasing as Blue Bottle, but they did make a damn good cup of coffee.

Counter at Ritual Roasters | San Francisco
Photo by ldandersen

One of the day’s top priorities was a stop at Treats, frequent source of parts for Shane’s myriad mopeds. Treats HQ isn’t really set up as a storefront, but the guys let us in and Shane perused the wares, coming out with a set of handlebars and a few other things. No Treats, though.

After a bit more wandering around, we were starting to get hungry and tired, so we made our way to Monk’s Kettle for lunch.

Taps at Monk's Kettle
Photo by Premshree Pillai

Monk’s Kettle has a seriously impressive beer list – but alas, I wasn’t really in the mood. I know, I know. Who goes to a fantastic beer bar and doesn’t get a beer? Me, apparently. Regardless, they have five page beer list with a wide range of all kinds of excellent things, and Shane was pleased with his pint and his cup of soup. I had a great cup of vegan chili, though my experience was soured a bit by the non-stop new media sales pitch going on at the next table. I suppose this is one of those irritating SF things that you don’t realize is going to drive you crazy until it’s everywhere. I’m not prone to violence, but I was tempted to punch the guy in the mouth. Good thing we were just having a quick lunch instead of several rounds of drinks or I seriously might have.

If you go:
Lupa Trattoria
4109 24th St (between Castro & Diamond)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 282-5872

Nothing really exceptional, but a nice place for a simple but hearty Italian dinner if you’re in the area. We split the gnocchi and the insalate di zucchine – plenty for the two of us. Two entrees would’ve been too much

Boulange de Noe
3898 24th St (24th & Sanchez)
San Francisco, California 94114
(415) 821-1050

Bay area bakery chain – Kiya raved about their bread, and we enjoyed our cappuccinos here and espressos at the Hayes Valley location.

Ritual Coffee Roasters
1026 Valencia St (between 21st & Hill)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 641-1011

The folks behind Ritual were previously affiliated with Four Barrel, so you can expect a similar caliber of coffee, though the space is less intimidating and you might be able to plug in your laptop.

440 Treat Ave Ste 103 (between 17th & 18th)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 255-8957

Not really set up as a retail location, but your go-to spot for assorted moped parts in SF.

Monk’s Kettle
3141 16th St (between Albion & Valencia)
San Francisco, CA 94103-3334
(415) 865-9523

Fantastic beer list, less fantastic food. The space is pretty small, so go for lunch or a beer in the afternoon, or be prepared to wait a while in the evening.