By Erik Honda, DTNA Secretary
Last year our neighborhood businesses were largely shuttered as people battened down the hatches in anticipation of the darkest days of the global pandemic. This year, thanks to strong local leadership, San Francisco is a national trendsetter in vaccine uptake, and having persevered through the Delta variant, we’re ready to party! (With appropriate safety measures, of course….)
Thanks to ongoing support from locals, who shopped and tipped generously over the last year to show our appreciation for front-line workers, most of the Triangle’s businesses have survived, but all of them could use one last boost of spending and generosity from their neighbors to make it over the hump into long-term viability. It’s the most wonderful time of the year to shop the Triangle!
A good place to start is on Waller Street, the newly invigorated border between the Triangle and the Lower Haight, where Cafe Réveille at Steiner and Tarragon Café at Fillmore are both offering full menus and outdoor tables. After munching, you can pick up some of the cutest possible outfits for your four-legged friends at The Animal House Pet Mercantile at Fillmore and Waller, or get a gift certificate for bike repair at Wiggle Bicycles, or one-of-a-kind stoneware or other art object for the home at Earthen Ceramics and Housewares.
14th Street also has plenty to offer: you can get a gift certificate for aikido or jiu-jitsu training at Maru Dojo, or for dog grooming at the Little Ark. If you want to spice up your holiday gathering, Rebekah Northway of The Petaler is open for walk-in business. She can create something gorgeously seasonal and distinctive, using locally-sourced materials. You deserve it! At Books and Bookshelves at 14th and Sanchez, there are no supply-chain bottlenecks and if you pick up a book of poetry while you’re there maybe that will keep you from your screen for a while, and safe from the lurid temptation of Amazon Prime. Or, if you’re still walking, make a left off 14th on Noe to encounter another row of Triangle delights; pick up a gift certificate for a fine meal at the longtime stalwart French bistro L’Ardoise. If you want fancier homewares stop by Black and Gold at 15th and Noe, or if you need some inexpensive flowers along with some genuine conversation and sparkling energy stop by Guy’s Flowers across the street.
Of course the largest concentration of shopping destinations by far is on Market Street, hypotenuse of our Triangle. At Castro you’ll find that Jane Warner Plaza has perked back up, with outdoor seating at Twin Peaks and Orphan Andy’s, and the Brazilian restaurant Café de Casa. If you are gift or card shopping you should definitely stop at Local Take which has moved to 18th Street – there you’ll not only be supporting a local business but also local artists, because everything in there was locally made.
Continuing down Market, if you want to enhance the look of a room or find the perfect gift for the person Stag & Manor is just the spot to find your one-of-a-kind houseware. Rolo on Market (two locations, including one devoted to sportswear), or the high-end vintage clothing store Sui Generis are both must-shop spaces for the “let’s just try it on” crowd.
On the Triangle side of Market stop by Max Khusid’s Art House SF. There is no sign, but the eye-catching art through the generous windows will let you know you’re in the right spot. Continuing our walk to Noe, you should stop at Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods for gifts for the canine set, and if you’re feeling a need for natural foods for humans, an hour or so at La Méditerranée’s lovely outdoor seating will do you well, too. Perhaps the most innovative business on Market is the delicious Spanish restaurant Canela, which sustained us through the pandemic with paella kits, and is a great gift-certificate prize as well.
Also on Market below Noe you can order a big print of a favorite photo and a nice frame at Photoworks SF or at Underglass Custom Framing. How about a tattoo for that special someone? Trudy’s Tattoo parlor (now closed) does stellar work.
On Market below Sanchez, Ampersand Flower Shop is owned by neighbors who live on Duboce Street. If you make it all the way to Church (by now you really deserve a treat), Millay is the bottle shop and bar with a delicious selection of wine and sake and plenty of outdoor seating. You can also pick up a lovely houseplant at Plant Therapy, or stop for a glass of wine (and perfect french fries) at Aquitaine Wine Bistro on Church, or some lobster at Woodhouse Fish Co. on Market at 14th St., or a pizza at Il Casaro Pizza & Mozzarella Bar on Church. An embarrassment of riches, really!
At all of these businesses don’t forget to dish out a super-size smile (“smize”) and an extra big tip, remembering that the folks who work there are essential workers, who last year were risking their lives to allow us to soldier on. And take a moment to celebrate that you have supported and connected in a real way with some real people, your neighbors!
Note: For more local business listings go to Duboce Triangle & Adjacent Restaurants and Businesses.