South of Market (aka SoMa) covers a wide swath of territory and socioeconomic layers, ranging from scenes to housing to nightlife. But one thing all of SoMa has in common—long blocks. They go on and on. Unlike the normal-sized blocks found in the city, the ones in this neighborhood stretch far due mainly to the fact that this used to be the city’s industrial area with massive factories. Not for the weary of foot.
The birthplace of Nobel Prize-winning scribe Jack London, South of Market used to be called South of the Slot. (There’s even a novella of the same name penned by London.) Flash forward to the first dot-com, and it soon housed such stellar names as Suck.com and Pets.com.
Today SoMa has many bars and a few great restaurants. But what’s really exciting here is what’s happening to the housing stock. In addition to building one of the city’s first luxe micro-apartment complexes, you can also find several Stanley Saitowitz concepts throughout. It also has an alternative, albeit dwindling, LGBT scene. And let’s not forget about the annual slap-and-tickle leather fest, Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco’s gay pride for locals.
Maligned by naysayers as Stroller Town, Noe Valley is more than just a place to raise little Jaxon and Braydon. What used to be lesbian enclave—and in some respects still is, thankfully—is still of the city’s most precious neighborhoods. Edwardians and Victorians of almost all varieties can be found in this family-friendly hood.
It’s also the home of some dramatic and polarizing renovations. The Victorians on 23rd Street and Vicksburg being two recent examples that caused a lot of drama. But for every antiseptic makeover, an adorable ode to the past can still be found, intact and inviting. Take, for example, this Stick style Victorian on Noe, sure to cure your minimalism blues, and this Diamond Street gem is downright gorgeous.
The restaurant scene has changed too. Hamlet replaced Horner’s Bar & Grill, a favorite of longtime locals, while Contigo and Firefly continue to be the area’s bright spots, gastronomically-speaking. Though Haystack Pizza continues to be a favorite. (Don’t miss the acid-trip, cracked-mirror booth!)
Of course, this neighborhood won’t come cheap. From the boutiques and the Whole Foods to the asking prices and eateries, this slice of chic suburbia in SF takes a lot of quarters to play.
The decision is in your hands: Which area should advance? Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win. Remember, polls close in 24 hours.