Market Street in San Francisco is one of the oldest and most definitive streets in the city. It runs three miles from the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero to Twin Peaks past the Castro and cuts a diagonal across the middle of San Francisco. A thoroughfare that taxis, bikers, and buses use above ground and the Muni and Bart use below ground, Market Street has forever been a home to shops, theaters, and restaurants. However, its proximity to downtown and public transportation has also made Market Street a hotspot for the city’s homeless, especially in the mid-Market region between Fifth and Eleventh Streets. Luckily, in the past couple of year’s the city, along with pioneering restaurant owners and visionary realtors, have made a grand effort to restore Market Street to its previous glory. Talk a walk or drive down Market Street today and you’ll find a wide range of new coffee shops, markets, and bars. Here, we highlight our favorites.
Market Street spans several neighborhoods and the best for shopping is, by far, downtown. The area surrounding Fifth Street is quite the Mecca with the Westfield Mall (home to Bloomingdales, Tiffany’s, Michael Kors, et. al) and recently opened Nordstrom Rack and Off Sak’s Fifth Avenue. One of San Francisco’s most iconic brands, demin behemoth, Levi’s, moved its flagship from Union Square to Market Street. This Levi’s store has exclusive limited-edition pieces from special collections that are native to the region, like the Pride Collection, which features tees, tanks, and of course, jeans. Further up the street, at the Twitter building, is a noteworthy new place to shop for food, cleverly called The Market. Part grocery store, part food court, the Market has everything from a raw sushi bar to a flower shop, plus a bar, wine store, and brick and mortar stand for beloved food truck star, Azalina’s.
Named for the oldest public library in France, Mazarine is a new coffee shop and lunch spot located in the heart of the Financial District. Excellently prepared coffee made from quality beans are on offer at this industrial space from a former software engineer. The single-origin pour over coffee is strong, flavorful, and creamy. As for the food, the scrumptious avocado toast comes on a thick slice of brioche with a heavy layer of tangy goat cheese while the roasted turkey sandwich comes with pumpkinseed mayo, shaved parmesan, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts, a combination that you think might not work, but surprisingly does. Nearby is Ginto, a massive Japanese izakaya that opened in February. The menu features a wide variety of Japanese food from sushi and sashimi to yakatori and ramen. A team of six chefs was brought in from Tokyo and the bar serves up Japanese whiskey, souchu, sake, and 25-draft beers that are a mix of both local favorites and harder to find Japanese brews. Further up Market Street in the old Cafe Du Nord space is Aaxte, the newest restaurant from the folks behind Flour + Water and Central Kitchen. This time they are focusing on Spanish cuisine. There’s house cured olives and boquerones, mushroom and ramp croquets, charred sepia and pork belly with black lentils, and Spanish fried rice with chorizo and salt cod tortilla. If you’re more in the mood for Mexican food, head to the seven-month old Hecho on the corner of Market and 17th. This lively Mexican eatery has an extensive tequila and mezcal list, attractive staff, and finger-licking good queso. Around the corner, Manos Nouveu offers an artistic take on delectable Latin American cuisine. With a dark grey, red, and black wood color palate the space is warm and inviting — one feels as if they are actually someplace South of the border. The oven-roasted salmon with creamy green pea chimole rice is delicate, delicious, and a must order.
Blue Bottle Coffee has opened its latest cafe at Market and Tenth just this week. A rotating selection of single origin and blend drip coffee, espresso drinks, and pastries are on the menu. The Hall is a temporary community of seven local food vendors joined by a wine and beer bar. From local, seasonal seafood to whole animal cookery, there is something for everyone on offer at The Hall. The space doubles as an event destination with live music every Tuesday. In the Castro, Brewcade, a beer-centric bar meets arcade opened late last year. The playful spaces has a huge flat screen television, 21 classic arcade games (Donkey Kong Jr. and Mario Brothers, to name a couple) and more than 25 craft beers, from tart saisons to smoked martens.
This Summer marks the debut of several more spots along Market Street. In early June comes Dirty Water an ambitious bar-restaurant named for the pre-prohibiton term for whiskey, which is the 50-foot limestone bar’s main attraction. The extensive selection of libations also offers over 50 beers on tap and 100 wines by the glass. The food menu is being described as American primal food and focuses on paleo cuisine like suckling roast pig with fresh corn polenta and whole roasted squab with puffed basmati. Coming in late June is the latest from the team behind AQ and TBD, Bon Marche. This grand all-day space hopes to mimic the bustling cafes of the Marais district in Paris. Bon Marche will be laid out like a market of sorts and diners will get to choose their own culinary adventure, be it a raw oysters and bubbly kind of night or a cafe and croissant kind of morning. There’s also beer and wine programs, including a custom brewed beer made on site and over 100 wines to choose from.