By: Carol Vaziri, Designed by Nikki Rad
This story is brought to you by the great people over at the Bold Italic. The Bold Italic is an online magazine, shop, and events hub in San Francisco. We celebrate the free-wheeling spirit of the city.
The Inner Richmond has a reputation for being far away and foggy. But there are signs of life in this little neighborhood that could. Tucked away between the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park there's a street where a cultural shift is happening among the storefronts lined with hanging ducks and potent herbal remedies.
I’ve lived a few blocks from Clement Street for a decade. Over the last few years I’ve seen my neighborhood – traditionally a sleepy place for families – change, as an influx of young artisans looking to escape the grind of the Mission have come in. With the lure of international cheap eats and an easy bicycle commute downtown, new businesses on the street have started catering to the hip new set while long-standing neighborhood institutions are being rediscovered and revitalized.
I can only imagine what this area is going to become in the next few years. It's well on its way.
Opened in 2006, Park Life moved into the old Busvan for Bargains furniture space and immediately felt like an oasis for the culturally needy. Now the store/gallery run by Jamie Alexander and Derek Song serves as the anchor for the revival happening on the street with its monthly exhibits, live events, and balloon dog related tussles with big-time New York artists. This is a must stop for those in need of cool housewares and T-shirts that won't let you down.
Next door to Park Life is Seedstore, a clothing shop that might make some people think they took a wrong turn into Hayes Valley. Opened by sisters Cynthia and Jennifer Huie, the homey space offers a selection of finely curated clothes and accessories with a retro air, along with select heritage designers like Pendleton and Bass shoes.
Toy Boat Dessert Cafe
A Clement Street institution since 1983, Toy Boat Dessert Cafe is a hub for the young and old. You can browse the walls for your favorite childhood toy (most of the objects are for sale) while savoring a heaping brownie sundae. The store's friendly owner, Jesse Fink, is also one of Clement Street's most notable characters, responsible for fighting off chains like Starbucks and preventing the street from turning into a strip mall. And, yes, that double scoop of mint chip was for me.
Green Apple Books
Crammed with every book imaginable – new and used – Green Apple Books is a bit like Clement Street's black hole. People go in but have an extremely difficult time coming back out. With late business hours, customers can take their time savoring the sounds of the creaky wooden floors and curl up in the corner with a stack of engrossing books.
Instead of visiting the much loved, ever-popular Burma Superstar, I wanted to focus on its new-ish offshoot. B*Star offers a more fusion-style menu with amazing cocktails and an enchanting garden patio for those rare sunny days. The décor is clean and modern, raising the bar of the street. Don't miss the Braised Port Sammy with Fuji apple, fennel, and radish.
Blue Danube is a well-worn café that offers the feel of one's living room with a vast picture window that allows you to sit and watch the full diversity of the street parade by.
Neck of the Woods (Formerly Rockit Room)
Two words: Free bacon. All day. Every Sunday. Occupying the venue formerly known as the Last Day Saloon, the Neck of the Woods offers a bunch of weekly events where students from nearby USF can come dance to reggae and salsa, check out an '80s cover band, or show off their own talents with regular open mic and comedy nights.
A neighborhood staple, Q is always packed with people loading up on enormous hamburgers and traditional American fare. It serves great beer, wine, and root beer floats. Kids love the magnetic walls and year-round Christmas lights. But everybody, regardless of age, needs to try the tater tots and macaroni and cheese.
Do It Yourself
Hop on over to Clement St. in the Inner Richmond to experience Park Life, Seedstore, Toy Boat Dessert Cafe, Green Apple Books, B*Star, Blue Danube, Neck of the Woods and Q. Escape the hustle and bustle of Downtown and see a wonderful neighborhood.
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