Noe Valley (pronounced “No-EE Valley”) is a neighborhood in the Central part of San Francisco. The general borders are 21st street to the north, Randall Street to the south, Dolores Street to the east, and Grand View Avenue to the west. Noe Valley was developed after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and features largely Victorian and Edwardian architecture. It started out as a working-class neighborhood but has since gentrified and is now considered an upscale San Francisco neighborhood.
THE LOCAL: Kristin
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: Kristin, 28, has an eye for detail and is known for wandering around neighborhoods for the sole purpose of exploring. She loves to eat and drink (but not cook) which has helped her discover and try the creations that the best places the city (and her neighborhood) have to offer. She founded Beyond Ordinary Guides, a travel blog featuring curated guides, authentic travel stories and beautiful photography, a little over a year ago and has lived in Noe Valley for over two years.
1. Favorite Street or Park to Wander/Stroll?
24th Street is the heart and soul of Noe Valley. On weekends, it bustles with friends and families headed to brunch and on weekdays serves as the hub for residents’ daily lives. Three cafes, two floral shops, two wine merchants, a cheese shop, a book store, a post office, a bank, a grocery store (Whole Foods) and numerous boutiques and restaurants make this street quaint, homey and filled with everything you need.
2. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery?
Noe Valley Bakery bakes up to-die-for pastries and cupcakes (the Hostess with the Mostess cupcake to be specific). I dream about their fruit slabs and twice baked almond croissants. Bonus: they serve locally roasted Sightglass coffee!
3. Best Area to Shop Local?
Again, 24th Street! I recommend starting just west of Castro street at Wink SF and then heading east. Don’t miss Rare Device, my favorite boutique to pick up gifts and stationary; Chocolate Covered, a shop dedicated to chocolate with hundreds of varieties from around the world; Folio Books, a local book store with a curated selection (I’ve always loved the books I’ve purchased from their fiction table – it’s like having my own book concierge); and Mill, a women’s clothing and accessories store (think an earthier, higher quality J. Crew).
4. Your Recommended Sunny Day Agenda?
Start with a double baked almond croissant and single origin Sightglass coffee from Noe Valley Bakery. Once you’ve finished breakfast, hike to the top of Twin Peaks, two hills that provide some of the best views in the city. From 24th Street, the hike is around 2.5 miles round trip. By the time you are done with your hike, most of the shops will be open so you can shop and stroll your way towards 24th Street Cheese Company to buy cheese, charcuterie, almonds, cornichons and a bottle of wine (or two). Take your picnic supplies to Dolores Park for an afternoon of relaxing, napping and people watching. When the sun starts to set and the weather begins to cool, head to one of Noe Valley’s great restaurants for dinner. Follow with a drink at Caskhouse before retiring home for the night.
5. Essential Noe Valley Tip?
Wear comfortable shoes! It’s hilly around here and you won’t last long in uncomfortable shoes. Also, don’t feel the need to dress up. People here dress stylishly yet are practical. Think a nice pair of jeans and a Patagonia jacket on cold days and simple classics on warm ones. And finally, watch out for baby strollers! Noe Valley is known as the favored neighborhood for burgeoning families, who are out in full force on weekends.
Kristin’s Top 5 Noe Valley Restaurants
Think of Firefly as the best home cooked meal you’ve ever had- in a cozy environment. Their menu is constantly changing with the seasons, so there is always something new to discover here. Plus, gluten free options and an impressive wine list. Reservations are recommended.
My favorite neighborhood gastropub where locals come to relax for a few hours. Great beers and wines, as well as delicious gourmet pub grub. My favorite dish is the porter braised beef served with horseradish sour cream and brioche. There are no TVs, which helps keep the atmosphere intimate, and you’ll often see a group of people playing cards at one of the tables. No reservations needed here! Just head in and find a spot to settle.
3. Saru Sushi
A tiny, rustic Japanese restaurant serving perfectly prepared and presented sushi. Reservations are recommended, otherwise, arrive 30 minutes before they open. (Hours: Tues-Sat Lunch 12-2; Tues-Thurs & Sun Dinner 5:30-9:30; Fri-Sat Dinner 5:30-10:30)
Relatively new to the neighborhood, Novy serves up Greek inspired American fare. Ingredients are super fresh. My favorites include their Greek Salad and their burgers. Try the Panos Burger- ground lamb, feta, olive tapenade, tzatziki, cucumber, tomato and onion.
Small Italian restaurant specializing in Roman fare. You’ll find dishes here that are common in Italy, but don’t often make their way to the states, as well as generous portion sizes and homemade pasta.
Are you a Noe Valley local? Did we leave out any can’t-miss spots? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!