Cole Valley? Whether you’ve lived here for ten years or are visiting for a long weekend, chances are you haven’t spent much time in this little hidden gem. Tucked under the Panhandle and bordering Upper Haight and the Inner Sunset, Cole Valley is a great place to get away for a day. Like Bernal Heights or Noe Valley, it’s the sort of place that scruffy hipsters from the Mission yearn to retire to when they reach their 30’s.
San Franciscans are infamous for never leaving their neighborhoods. On an average day, you might get coffee and breakfast, go to work, eat lunch, and grab dinner, drinks, etc. all within the six square blocks surrounding your apartment. And there is no more delightful spot in San Francisco for this practice than in Cole Valley. You can catch the N Judah from downtown San Francisco and get off at Stanyan and Carl, just steps away from Cole Valley’s main attractions. It’s also within walking distance from Golden Gate Park and the Upper Haight- from Haight street, head west towards the park, hang a left at Cole street and you have arrived.
But first, coffee. If you need a cup of joe to jump start your day, we recommend Flywheel Coffee Roasters on Stanyan between Haight and Page. They offer up great handmade coffees and an excellent atmosphere. Founder Aquiles Guerrero really knows his business. Not only did he grow up working his family’s coffee farm in Nicaragua, but he also cut his barista teeth working for his aunt Martha of Martha & Bros. fame. They also supply all the gear and beans you need to brew that perfect cup at home.
For brunch, we have some excellent options. Cafe Reverie, on Cole just north of Carl, features amazing benedicts, scrambles, omelets, and grain bowls. If it’s later in the day and you’re after a proper lunch, grab the seared ahi tuna salad or the burger. On the other hand, local chain, La Boulangerie, is also a great choice. Located on Parnassus at Cole, it offers more french pastries than your doctor would appreciate. On the lighter side, they have a brioche avocado toast with a delightful topping of micro greens, pickled radish, cilantro, chilli flakes, and jalapeno.
Now that you have your basic nourishment out of the way, what next? Drinks of course! At Finnegan’s Wake on Cole at Carl, sip a famous Bloody Mary or a classic Old Fashioned in their rustic back yard. The bar occupies the site of San Francisco’s first lesbian bar, Maud’s, and continues to maintain a warm environment where all are welcome. If you are looking for something with old world roots, head over to Ino Vino on Carl at Cole. They have an incredible wine selection by the bottle, glass, or flight.
Still hanging in there? Okay good. You’re right, it’s time for dinner. If you are into the farm to table movement, look no further than Padrecito. Located on Cole at Carl, Padrecito features lovingly crafted meals made from locally sourced ingredients, and paired with an extensive list of Tequilas and Mezcals. Their housemade tortillas are a must-have. Start with the Ceviche De Pescado, share some tacos – we recommend the Goat Barbacoa or the Crispy Chicken Dorados, and dig into their Chilaquiles Verdes. If you have any room, stop by The Ice Cream Bar on Cole at Frederick to round off the night. This 50’s style soda bar has a great selection of scoops and sundaes as well as light lunch counter bites, beers, aperitifs and digestifs, and a lengthy list of boozy and complex “Remedies”.
You did it! Now when someone mentions Cole Valley, you’ll be in the know. Feel free to come back any time and enjoy this great neighborhood in the heart of a great city.