I was only 15 years old the first time I visited Haight St in San Francisco. With long blond hair down to my shoulders, nine or so piercings and blue jeans ripped to shreds I was convinced I’d stumbled upon the promised land. Fast forward 15 years and here I am with my apartment sitting just above all the madness of Haight St. But despite my current lack of piercings and long hair, I can still appreciate the off-beat characters that embody this section of town.
When people visit San Francisco they almost always make a stop at Haight Street seeking out the remnants of a hippie era gone the way of the buffalo. For this, they find themselves in the Haight Ashbury or locally known as The Upper Haight.
The Upper Haight:
The Upper Haight is best known as the birth place of the 1960’s hippie movement. Janice Joplin, The Grateful Dead and many others lived just steps from the Ben & Jerry’s that now sits at the famous intersection of Haight and Ashbury St.
These days you’ll still see the hippie ideals living on in the area but in much smaller doses. For the most part, the Upper Haight consists of the aging hippie
crowd (the original bunch), the gutter punks that travel across the country to sit street-side and panhandle, and tourists…lots of tourists.
The Lower Haight:
As a result of all this, the younger local population has moved eastward down to an area known as the Lower Haight. The Lower Haight sits between the hippies of the Upper Haight and a stretch of projects just south of the Western Addition. This combination of cultures has given the Lower Haight a unique feel that is immediately evident.
You’ll know you’re in the Lower Haight when you start to see the artwork covering the sides of the buildings that stretch throughout the area. It’s an area that’s home to an eclectic mix of artists and punks and the artwork, restaurants and bars show it. Here’s a listing of some of the more notable places to see:
Bunny with Skull Popping Out of Head: Haight St & Laguna St
Murals of the Upper Playground: Haight St & Fillmore St
Lower Hater’s Monsters: Haight St & Steiner
Rosamunde: The City’s best sausages!
Memphis Minnie’s: BBQ….that’s right BBQ in SF! There aren’t many.
Chilli Cha Cha: Classic Thai food, good prices.
Axum Cafe: Ethiopian cuisine.
Mythic Pizza: For that late-night drunkin slice.
Molotov’s: A classic punk rock dive bar.
Noc Noc: It kind of looks like a Marilyn Manson video in here…interesting to say the least.
Toronado: One of San Francisco’s best beer bars! Anything you want.
There are many more bars, restaurants, and murals in the area but I don’t have the energy to list them all. You’ll have to explore the neighborhood for yourself. Just do yourself a favor and leave the Sidekick at the Fisherman’s Wharf.
…and welcome to my favorite neighborhood in San Francisco.