Oftentimes avoided by tourists because of safety concerns, there is no shortage of treasures in the Tenderloin. There are several explanations to the name, Tenderloin, but the one I like best is the story that officers who used to work in the Tenderloin received a “hazard pay” bonus for working in such a violent area, and thus were able to afford a good cut of meat.

Tenderloin Highlights

  • Little Saigon: Located in the Tenderloin district, the businesses of this two-block stretch are more than 80% Vietnamese-owned.
  • Phoenix Hotel (601 Eddy St): A mid-century motor lodge with a rock ‘n’ roll soul. Inside you’ll find Chambers, an awesome bar with great cocktails. Imagine sitting by the pool with a drink, feeling like your in SoCal, with the Tenderloin right outside.
  • Tenderloin National Forest: A small alleyway turned into an urban garden and art space.
  • People’s Barber (1259 Polk St): hip, personalized service – $38 mens cut. A traditional men’s barbershop providing a variety of luxurious barber services. Cool open space and they even offer you beer or champagne while you wait. My kind of place! They also sell products they use on customers. Make an appointment.
  • Public Barber (571 Geary St): This barbershop/salon provides hip and creative cuts for the stylish. Cool spot with some amazing art work for sale. Beer or champagne offered while you wait or during your cut.
  • RS94109 (835 Larkin St): One of a dying breed of small time record shops with an outstanding collection of rare releases.
  • American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary St): SF’s largest theater company in SF, but still feels like a small community. Check the schedule.
  • Glide Church (330 Ellis St): believes in a radically inclusive, just, and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. Tons of classes and support groups for underserved populations.

Tenderloin Food & Drink

  • Saigon Sandwich (560 Larkin St): Some of the best banh mi I’ve ever had (including when compared to Vietnam). Best meal you can have for under $5 in the city—$3.25 to be exact!
  • Shalimar (532 Jones St): Delicious and authentic Pakistani cuisine. The tandoor, jalfrezi, and garlic naan are musts. Cash only. BYOB!
  • Joy’s Place (611 Post St.): Yummy dessert snacks. Try their popular Sweet Potatoe Latte or shaved ice with red beans.
  • Bourbon and Branch (501 Jones St): Bourbon and Branch is one of the truest speakeasies in the city. How many bars do you need a password to get into? Remember to use the password “books” at the door. Top-notch craft cocktails and a fun vibe.
  • Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St): Great little venue inside a bar of the same name. They bring in a mix of local and international talent that leans towards rock. Smoking room.
  • Hooker’s Sweet Treats (442 Hyde St): Hidden micro-coffeeshop and bakery in a cute Victorian that maintains itself as the standout for coffee in this neighborhood. Get the cheddar biscuit or bread pudding. Now.
  • Sweet Woodruff (798 Sutter St.): Tiny American gourmet spot with rotating artisan sandwiches, small plates and desserts. If it’s on the menu, have the grilled cheese sandwich and house taters. So good!
  • Rye (688 Geary St): Regarded as the best whiskey bar in the city. Hip crowd. Cool and modern industrial ambiance with pool table in the back.
  • Jones (620 Jones St.): Rooftop bar with good bar food. Cash only! Happy hour Tuesdays-Fridays 5-7pm drink specials.