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The People's Guide: Curbed Contributor Abby Pontzer

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The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. Here's one of our Curbed operatives, blogger Abby Pontzer.

[If you haven't yelled "Wiggler!" at an unsuspecting biker you haven't lived, that's what I say.]

Nabe: Lower Haight. Completely distinct from lovely but yuppie Hayes Valley to the East or touristy and druggie Upper Haight to the West.

Q: Tell us something we don't know about Lower Haight?
A: You mean you haven't read the blog? I think most people in the neighborhood will note that Haighteration has been awesome for us, both in helping us know what's going on and finding new things to like. But something you may not know is that our homeless people are generally very nice. They are still crazy, but I've never felt threatened by them the way I have in other 'hoods. Mainly they just make me chuckle.

Q: Local Customs of note:

A: Smoking! Yes, it turns out people actually smoke cigarettes here, though we do have our very own medical marijuana dispensary as well. On a Friday or Saturday night, sidewalks are clogged with people coming out of Toronado or Molotov's to smoke.

Q: Hidden Gems in Lower Haight:

A: What first struck me when I moved to the neighborhood was how much good, cheap (and late night) food was available. I could go every single day not spending more than $6 a meal - Love N Haight for sandwiches, the real Rosamunde's for sausage, newcomer Estrella for tacos.... the list goes on and on. I'm also a personal believer that The Grind is one of the best cafes in the city. Great, cheap food, outdoor seating, and really nice people.

Q: Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not ... well, why not?

A: I live next door to Costumes on Haight. They have a secret back patio and I can hear them all the time. They also rent storage space in my building. For the most part, it's great having so much access to fake blood and afros, and they do a great job keeping their customers under control during costume season (all the time in SF, but notably Halloween, Bay to Breakers, and Pride).

Q: Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? If your nabe is an underdog, what's being overlooked?

A: Did you notice that we're park-adjacent? Pretty much every park is the start of a new neighborhood. I love taking out-of-towners to the top of Buena Vista park, drinking a tall boy and watching dogs play in Duboce, helping tourists out in Alamo Square, taking panoramas up in Corona Heights, and running or biking to Golden Gate. While Lower Haight can't take ownership of any of these beauties, we can certainly swing with all of them.

Q: The final word on the Lower Haight:

A: No tattoo, no problem.