My favorite area in San Francisco is definitely Hayes Valley. I was lucky enough to find an incredible 2 story home to rent for our last month with a castmate. Not only did the house surpass my hopes and expectations, but the area was quaint, hip, delicious, up and coming, and close to the theatre.
Chez Maman West
This restaurant was unbelievable and I barely dipped my foot into their endless pool of a menu. My boyfriend and I came here on a whim before a show and were both shocked by the quality and diversity of the food. There are 2 locations, this being the newest. They also have a Mexican restaurant in SF and include items from that menu here (I absolutely adored that aspect).
Ok…it was SOOOOOO mind-blowingly delectable. I mean put parsley, butter, and garlic on shoe leather, cook it, and I’ll put a ring on it. My boyfriend was insistent on starting with the escargot and I begrudgingly said I’d try a bite. I was hooked and I am hooked. I can’t recommend it enough. It came out piping out, out of the shell, and baked in a trough that made me feel like I was eating a soft pasta rather than a slug. Go eat slugs at Chez Maman and get me one to go! Ok it is made in butter…and so worth every dairy bite
The beau has a fresh rainbow trout over sautéed greens and I ordered the salmon over spinach, minus the creme and potatoes. Instead, I ordered some of the best french fries with garlic aioli I have ever had…and that is saying a lot coming from this french fry addict. I would de happy in a bed of french fries. My mouth is watering just typing about my fried lovers. Let’s view a photo:
YES!!!!! I LOVE YOU, FRIENDS!!!!!
Anyway!!! The salmon was perfectly cooked and beautifully hot. Getting my food nice and hot can sometimes override a dish I don’t necessarily care for. Food temperature is an art and extremely important to me when dining out. I used to eat soup with a plastic spoon because I liked it so hot that a silver spoon would burn my lips. Wow, I digress…
The food here was just delectable and I ate there over a hand-full of times. I can’t recommend this place more. It is small so make a reservation or go early and see a movie after. It’s totally worth it! Also, skip the bread they drop at the start of the meal. I sampled, it wasn’t worth it and we sent it away. Some bread is worth wheaty throat…but not this one 😉
Arlequin Cafe and Wine Merchant
This was one of my first stops in the area. I was walking towards it as a Shakespearian play was being done in jeans and tees by a great of thespians, while onlookers sipped their purchased bottle of wine from the wine shop and ate scones and croissants from the cafe. Kinda of incredible. I walked in and feel in love with a salad that put dairy back in my diet for my time there: The Cobb Salad with dill ranch. AHHHH!!!! My favorite cobb I have ever eaten. No joke.
Switching back to french fries for a second, I was feeling the urge one day and ordered a side of french french with my salad. They delivered an entire large plate full of fried potato goodness. And yes, I ate them all and cried a little. Good thick cut fries that make cafes my favorite place to eat them.
This place was super cute and had great coffee and strong lattes (with soy), with yummy whipped scambled eggs and thick roasted rosemary potatoes for the mornings. The afternoons and evenings were filled with a delicious tea selection and cobb salads galore. I did order the roasted chicken one night with roasted carrots and asparagus and it tasted like home cooking. Just pop over next door for some wine to go or to drink there.
I must have tried 4 different bottles of rose in my time in Hayes Valley and each one was beautifully different and under $15 at Arlequin Wine Merchant (attached to the cafe). Some were French and some were local. They also offer a tasting menu to sit out on the patio or out front with a glass of wine and yummy sweater to enjoy the cold SF summer.
The Grove Hayes
If you want Christmas in July, go to THE GROVE HAYES and order the best Chai Latte you have ever had. They use a spiced powder and mix it by hand with milk or soy of your choice. I recommend it served hot as stirred powdered drinks tend to taste a bit chalky.
My first order there was the Berkley bowl with garbs, cucumber, carrots, avocado, tomato, sprouts, onion and a HUGE SLAB OF BREAD. Just throw it out or ask them to hold it or just eat it. I smelled it a good 10 times before I threw it out. It was like I ate it through my nostrils. Gross. The salad was good, but I recommend adding chicken to it instead of their tuna. I love tuna, but here is veered more on the mayo-heavy side. The breakfasts of eggs, chicken sausage, bacon and rosemary hash browns were all delicious…not spectacular but hit the spot.
Lots of people came here to use the interest, drink coffee, and enjoy the cabin-like resort feel of the place with the cowhide rugs and thick twig-backed seats. A fun stop for food and a MUST STOP for the Chai Latte. I miss it already.
A PLACE I DIDN’T GO BUT RECOMMEND: Two Sisters Bar & Books
This place was literally around the corner from my place. It looked so cute and lovely but I never made it here for a bite or a drink. The food options are “snacks” that are mostly cheese or meat plates. It would have been too tempting to sit down here and not indulged in cocktails of gouda and gin.
The menu for food is above and the menu for drinks is above….the bar…written on the large mirror that gives this small space the facade of an intimate speakeasy. I think I have to come back here for this:
And maybe this:
It is a brand new establishment and can only have great components to add to their already booming book-bar.
In closing, there were so many places I loved in this area. Smitten Ice Cream makes hand-home-made futuristic ice-cream right in front of your eyes with liquid nitrogen and love. They only have 3 or 4 flavors at a time that rotate weekly. TCHO dark chocolate, apple strudel, salted-carmel, pumpkin, and mint chip are just a few of their fascinating flavors. Biergarten offers beer, pretzels, and blankets, in their outdoor..yup…you got it…beer garden. It next door to smitten across from a cute little park. Patxi’s Chicago Pizza has a great gluten-free thin crust pizza with endless toppings and sauces. They deliver too!
If you head to Hayes Valley, you have plenty to chose from. You can also pick up some cool travel gear at Flight 001 on Hayes Street as a souvenir to pair with your full, happy belly.
Chez Maman West
401 Gough St (btw Hayes St & Ive St)
SF, CA 94102
384 Hayes St (btw Franklin St & Gough St)
SF, CA 94102
The Grove Hayes
301 Hayes St
SF, CA 94102
Two Sisters Bar & Books
579 Hayes St (btw Octavia St & Laguna St)
SF, CA 94102
Smitten and Biergarten are on Octavia between Hayes St and Fell St.
Paxti’s Pizza in on Hayes just past Octavia St.