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San Francisco Shopping...in the Neighborhoods

by Beverly Dubrin

San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own shopping district. Neighborhood shopping districts provide the services needed for day-to-day life (dry cleaners, hair salons, grocery store) and, beyond that, cater to the lifestyle of their residents. Want to know more about a particular neighborhood? Spend some time in its shops and restaurants where you will not only mingle with the "locals," but you will also share in their lifestyle.

Take a walk down Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights and you'll immediately sense its quiet elegance. For that perfect engagement ring, special pair of earrings or lovely heart pendant goldberry's dazzling collection of rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds set in hand fabricated platinum is unique and competitively priced. Featured in local, national and international press goldberry's rare powder pink sapphires are the talk of the town.

Stop at Dean Hutchinson for women's clothing by designers from around the world. Home furnishings are high on the list of Presidio Heights residents who furnish their homes with pieces from Jonathan-Kaye Children's Furniture and Thos. Moser Cabinetmaker. The finishing touches come from Forrest Jones, Sonoma Country Store, V. Brier Gallery and Sue Fisher King. If they have an idle moment, they work on an original design from Elaine Magnin Needlepoint or write a letter on stationery from The Desk Set. For gift wrap, coffee, small decorative items, and festive candies, the neighborhood's contemporary general store, American Pie, fills the bill.

One block away in Laurel Heights, the Laurel Village shopping center on California Street picks up where Sacramento Street leaves off. This is where the elite meet to shop for groceries at Cal-Mart and then pop in to Viking Home Chef for the ultimate in cookware and, perhaps, a cooking lesson or two. Try the pastries at Cal-Mart's Sweet Things Bakery.

The psychedelic '60s live on in the Haight-Ashbury. While the "street scene" in the Haight-Ashbury continues to be a major attraction, the selection of used records, CD's and audio tapes at Reckless Records and Recycled Records is worth a special trip, especially if you are looking for a hard-to-find recording. Some might consider the clothing at The Aaarvark's Odd Ark to be perfect for a costume party, but more choose the Hawaiian shirts and other recycled clothing for their everyday wardrobes. Try your footing on roller blades at Skates on Haight where you can rent or buy skates and rollerblandes, and receive a free lesson. One of the few signs of gentrification in the Haight is Coffee, Tea & Spice which sells freshly-roasted coffee, teas, spices, chocolates and accessories.

There is a touch of class and a bit of trendiness in the Upper Fillmore. Look for "fun" clothing at Betsy Johnson and We Be Bop. Large-sized women delight in the stylish designs and coordinated accessories from the Company Store. After a tiring day, Upper Fillmore locals stop at Vivande Porta Via for some gourmet take-home food. Or better yet, dine here at the in-store restaurant. You can stop for the perfect energizing snack at Rory's where candies, nuts, and other additions are "twisted" into your choice of ice cream.

Japantown is on the south end of the Upper Fillmore. Two of my favorite shops are Kinokuniya Bookstore with its more than 75,000 books and magazines in Japanese and English, and Yamada Seika Confectionery, a tiny shop which sells traditional Japanese pastries.

South of Market, called SOMA, is a mostly-commercial neighborhood. It is here that many local clothing designers sell their overstock and seconds at bargain prices. Grown women seek out the Jessica McClintock line for wedding dresses. Many stores have some great prom dresses that can work as evening gowns or cute cocktail dresses. The pricey suits and sportswear that appeal to professional women are less pricey at the Isda & Co. outlet. Fitness "nuts" can't resist the workout wear at the City Lights outlet. And, the Six-Sixty Center is an entire building of outlets which include Tower Records and Nomadic Traders.

Cow Hollow and the Marina attract both upscale young professionals (lots of singles) as well as senior citizens. The main shopping street of Cow Hollow is Union Street; that of the Marina is Chestnut Street. In Cow Hollow, I like the glitzy jewelry at Jest Jewels and the glittering crystals at Enchanted Crystal, the Italian papers and desk accessories at Oggetti, and the Zuni crafts at Zuni Pueblo. The fashion-conscious head for A/X Armani Exchange, Bebe, Culot and Kenneth Cole. Charlotte's Web is a special bookstore for kids.

Take a walk through the Marina on a weekday afternoon and you'd think everyone who lived here was self-employed or out of work. The restaurants are full, the sidewalks are crowded, dress is casual and no one is in a rush. The juice bars and yogurt shops are packed, and Starbuck's, Peet's and Ben & Jerry's couldn't be busier. Of all San Francisco's neighborhood shopping districts, this feels the most lived-in. The Marina has its own Gap for young-at-heart clothing, as well as branches of Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn for kitchen and home accessories and furnishings. Look for fancy lingerie at Chadwick's of London, jewelry at Forbeadin' and party supplies at Seasons. Clothing choices go from environmentally correct at Earthsake to trendy at Ovation. The Marina Safeway has been for years and still is the place where singles not only do their grocery shopping, but also go to meet and mingle. Lucca Delicatessen is a good bet for specialty food items, as is Some Like it Hot for spicier palates.

Noe Valley and the Castro both have lively shopping districts. Noe Valley, a self-contained urban village, is a favorite neighborhood for young families and professionals on the way up the ladder of success. One can spend hours "playing" with Star Magic's toys, games, and gift items, all with a scientific and/or spiritual emphasis. For a unique, hand-crafted decorative item or piece of jewelry, try Out of Hand. Rabat and Joshua Simon are just some of the shops from which local wardrobes are built. The Castro is the heart of San Francisco's gay and lesbian community. Its businesses, with names like Undercover (for clubwear), The Body Shop (for soaps, scents and accouterments), and Hot 'N Hunky (for hamburgers and hot dogs), reflect the community's lifestyle. The more health-oriented side of life in the Castro is seen in stores specializing in vitamins, health remedies, and natural food (e.g. Buffalo Whole Food & Grain Co.). Probably the one store that brings more shoppers into the Noe Valley/Castro neighborhoods is Joseph Schmidt Confections where shoppers with a sweet tooth come for creative chocolate sculptures and tasty chocolate truffles.

Shops and restaurants in distinctly ethnic neighborhoods reflect their national origins. North Beach is San Francisco's Italian neighborhood. The bakeries include Danilo and Victoria Pastry. Graffeo has provided freshly-roasted coffee to the neighborhood for years, even before coffee became the trendy consumable it is today. If Figoni Hardware doesn't have what you need for your home, kitchen or garden, it probably doesn't exist. Italians from all over Northern California buy wedding gifts and decorative Italian pottery at Biordi Art Imports. And, City Lights Books stands as a reminder of the '60s when the beatniks gathered here to read and socialize. The Grant Avenue shops range from Knitz and Leather with its handmade sweaters and unique accessories to The Schlock Shop with its mix of "junk" and collectibles.

The Latino community congregates in the Mission. Whether it be for fresh tortillas at Casa Sanchez, Hispanic breads (panes) at Domingues Bakery, or exotic cooking ingredients from Casa Lucas Market or La Palma Mexicatessen (be sure to try their hand-made tortillas, too), everything you need for Latino cooking and eating can be found here. For a tasty snack, have a frozen fruit bar (paleta) at Latin Freeze.

Addresses, by Neighborhood

The Castro
Best Shopping: Castro Street between 17th and Market.

The Body Shop
506 Castro Street

Buffalo Whole Food and Grain Co.
598 Castro Street

Hot 'N Hunky
4039 18th Street
(415) 621-6365

Joseph Schmidt Confections
3489 16th Street
(415) 861-8682

535 Castro Street
(415) 864-0505

Cow Hollow
Best Shopping: Union Street between Van Ness and Pierce.

A/X Armani Exchange
2090 Union Street
(415) 749-0891

2095 Union Street
(415) 563-2323

Charlotte's Web Children's Bookstore
2278 Union Street
(415) 441-4700

1969 Union Street
(415) 931-2413

Enchanted Crystal
1985 Union Street
(415) 885-1335

Images if the North
2036 Union Street
(415) 673-1273

Jest Jewels
2049 Union Street
(415) 563-8839

Kenneth Cole
2078 Union Street
(415) 346-2161

Best Shopping: Haight Street from Masonic to Stanyan.

The Aaarvark's Odd Ark
1501 Haight Street
(415) 621-3141

Coffee Tea & Spice
1630 Haight Street
(415) 861-3953

Reckless Records
1401 Haight Street
(415) 431-3434

Recycled Records
1377 Haight Street
(415) 626-4075

Skates on Haight
1818 Haight Street
(415) 752-8375

The Marina
Best Shopping: Chestnut Street between Fillmore and Broderick.

Chadwick's of London
2068 Chestnut Street
(415) 775-3423

2076 Chestnut Street
(415) 441-2896

2381 Chestnut Street
(415) 923-1414

2040 Chestnut Street (415) 929-1744

Lucca Delicatessen
2120 Chestnut Street (415) 921-7873

2124 Chestnut Street
(415) 931-5445

Pottery Barn
2100 Chestnut Street
(415) 441-1787

15 Marina Boulevard
(415) 563-4946

2061 Chestnut Street
(415) 923-9400

Some Like It Hot-A Fiery Food Emporium
3208 Scott Street
(415) 441-7468

Wild Oats Natural Food Supermarket (formerly Victor's market)
2324 Chestnut Street
(415) 921-6323

Williams Sonoma
2000 Chestnut Street
(415) 929-2520

World Wrapps
2257 Chestnut Street
(415) 563-9727

The Mission
Best Shopping: Twenty-fourth Street between Mission and Alabama; Mission Street between 16th and 24th.

Casa Lucas Market
2934 24th Street
(415) 826-4334

Casa Sanchez
2778 24th Street
(415) 282-2400

Domiquez Mexican Bakery
2951 24th Street
(415) 821-1717

La Palma Mexicatessen
2884 24th Street
(415) 647-1500

Latin Freeze
3338 24th Street
(415) 282-5033

Noe Valley
Best Shopping: 24th Street from Douglass to Church.

Joshua Simon
3915 24th Street
(415) 821-1068

Out of Hand
1303 Castro Street
(415) 826-3885

4001 24th Street
(415) 282-7861

Star Magic Space Age Gifts
4026 24th Street
(415) 641-8626

North Beach
Best Shopping: Blocks between Stockton, Filbert, Grant, and Broadway.

Biordi Art Imports
412 Columbus Avenue
(415) 392-8096

City Lights Books
261 Columbus Avenue
(415) 362-8193

Danilo Bakery
516 Green Street
(415) 989-1806

Figoni Hardware Co.
1351 Grant Avenue
(415) 392-4765

Graffeo Coffee Roasting Co.
735 Columbus Avenue
(415) 986-2420

Knitz and Leather
1429 Grant Avenue
(415) 391-3480

The Shlock Shop
1418 Grant Avenue
(415) 781-5335

Victoria Pastry
1362 Stockton Street
(415) 781-2015

Presidio/Laurel Heights
Best Shopping: Sacramento Street from Divisadero to Maple; California Street from Laurel to Spruce.

American Pie
3101 Sacramento Street
(415) 929-8025

V. Breier Contemporary & Traditional Craft
3091 Sacramento Street
(415) 929-7173

3585 California Street
(415) 751-3516

Sweet Things Bakery
(415) 221-8583

Dean Hutchinson
3401 Sacramento Street
(415) 922-4228

The Desk Set
3252 Sacramento Street
(415) 921-9575

Elaine Magnin Needlepoint
3310 Sacramento Street
(415) 931-3063

Forrest Jones, Inc.
3274 Sacramento Street
(415) 567-2483

3516 Sacramento Street
(415) 921-4389

Jonathan-Kaye Children's Furniture
3548 Sacramento Street
(415) 563-0773

Viking Homechef Kitchen Store
3525 California Street
(415) 668-3191

The Sonoma Country Store
3575 Sacramento Street
(415) 923-1600

Sue Fisher King
3067 Sacramento Street
(415) 922-7276

Thos. Moser Cabinetmaker
3395 Sacramento Street
(415) 931-8131

South of Market (SOMA)
Best Shopping: Area bordered by Bryant, Townsend, Second, and Fourth Streets; Ninth Street between Harrison and Howard.

City Lights
333 Ninth Street
(415) 861-6063

Jessica McClintock Outlet
1400 16th Street
Entrance on 15th Street
(415) 553-8390

Isda & Co.
29 South Park
(415) 512-0313

Six-Sixty Center
660 Third Street
(415) 227-0464

Upper Filmore
Best Shopping: From Pacific to Post; Nearby: Japantown; Sutter and Post between Laguna and Fillmore.

Kinokuniya Bookstore
Japan Center, Kinokuniya Building
1581 Webster Street
(415) 567-7625

Vivande Porta Via
2125 Fillmore Street
(415) 346-4430

Yamada Seika Confectionery
1955 Sutter Street
(415) 922-3848

Betsy Johnson
2033 Fillmore Street
(415) 567-2726

Rory's Twisted Scoop Ice Cream
2015 Fillmore Street
(415) 346-3692

The Company Store
1913 Fillmore Street
(415) 921-0365

We Be Bop
1903 Fillmore Street
(415) 771-7294

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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