One of the most compelling features of San Francisco neighborhoods is that they are built to a human scale. Ignoring the latest monstrosities of course, as you walk around any neighborhood in the city, you don’t feel dwarfed by the buildings you pass. You can see into the shops on the ground floor and can even see into the windows of the flats above. You feel more connected than removed from your environment. But being at human scale, sometimes you can walk past someplace for months, if not years and never even notice that it’s there. Sometimes these little holes in the wall house the neighborhood’s most precious hidden gems. When discovered, they can make you a part of the fabric of the neighborhood, and you feel somehow more connected, more special than before. This is a partial list of some of the Holes in the Wall that are better known to me, because they are pretty much all from my neighborhood, and for whatever reason I am sharing them with you. There were two or three that I selfishly kept off the list because I like them as-is and don’t want them to change. While some of these could really use some new customer traffic. I have also included some that are not in my neighborhood but are so great that I couldn’t not mention them. We will probably continue this list in the near future so if you have any well deserving holes that you would like to include, please send their info to the email address at the end of this article.
ColorBox Salon– 510 Church at 17th. This tiny hair salon is easy to walk past and never realize the tremendous amount activity that happens just within. The whole place (no pun intended) is just a buzz of frenetic energy of girls laughing, doing hair, chatting, doing more hair, more laughter, feeding treats to all the neighborhoods that walk past and more hair and laughter.
M and L Market- 691 14th Hands down the best Pastrami Sandwiches in the city. Where 14th meets Market (south side). Rumor has it that they might be closed for good, but I am hoping they are just on another extended vacation.
Art Shades-698 14th Across the street from M and L, this is really a hole in the wall. But the shades they produce are incredible and well worth a look or two.
DENTAL OFFICES OF STEVEN ADAME AND RAUL MONTALVO 773B 14TH STREET- The cutest and most inviting Dental Offices ever
Boynton Court- a few doors down from the dentists, according to maps, this is a street.
Golden Natural Foods and Golden Produce- 130 & 172 Church St These are the biggest holes in the wall on the list, but considering the behemoths across the street that they have to compete with, they qualify. In these two stores, both on the same block and owned by the same family, you will find better products than at Whole Paycheck on Market, and these products are the same price or less than inferior products at the scary Safeway across Church.
Montano Shoe Repair 199 Guerrero at 14th- A hole in the wall you might never notice, but the work is superb and the prices are great
Michael Bruno- 267 Market- This store has been here forever, and has an extremely loyal clientele. Come visit this store and find out why.EXPLORE SAN FRANCISCO HIDDEN GEMS: NEIGHBORHOOD HOLES IN THE WALL
Yamo 3406 18th- 8 Stools at a counter and three Burmese ladies behind the counter cooking like nobody’s business. There is usually a line, and the stools are usually full with a line out the door. Ordering to go from the sassy ladies is a sure bet.
Dearborn Community Garden Dearborn and Bird Streets. 45 garden plots on a former Pepsi Bottling Plant parking lot. If the gate is open then visitors are welcome to come in and enjoy paradise and listen to the birds.
Holes in the Wall Outside of my Neighborhood
Cordon Bleau 1574 California Street- Vietnamese Food. A few stools at the counter and a couple tables, nothing fancy but the food is to die for
The Sword and the Rose Noe Valley-85 Carl Street Your one-stop-shop for Magic, Stones, Candles, Rune, Tarot, Incense, Readings and a delightful garden.
Aria Korean American Snack Bar 932 Polk Street. A great place for KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)
And of course: The Hole in The Wall Saloon 1369 Folsom– A little gay biker bar with friendly bartenders, a diverse crowd, and rowdy music.
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