Best Neighborhoods for Boutique Shopping in San Francisco
Often referred to as a “boutique city” because of its small size and high number of high quality small businesses, San Francisco displays an impressive shopping scene without parallel in the United States. This is in part due to the fact that most of the city’s upscale neighborhoods are lined with boutique stores that cater to San Francisco’s fashionable and discerning residents. For visitors, this means that many opportunities for a unique shopping experience are available if you know where to look. The following sections offer a rundown on the best neighborhoods for boutique shopping in San Francisco, each one offering enough pure perusing pleasure to keep you occupied for days on end.
Located just a couple blocks west of San Francisco’s magnificent City Hall, this six-block stretch of fine restaurants, yoga studios and high end businesses is also home to some of the city’s most luxurious shopping. From fabulous shoe stores like Bulo to finely tailored lingerie at Alla Prima, the chic neighborhood of Hayes Valley offers something for everyone, including adorable fashionista pet wear at Babies.
Those looking for luxurious threads from top local designers should head to either Azalea or Zeni, the latter of which cuts clothes to custom order. Hayes Valley is also home to several top-notch antique shops and boutiques that specialize in home furnishings, and you could enjoy a day exploring these alone. After a long day popping in and out of the boutiques on the beautiful tree-lined Hayes Street, recharge at one of the area’s most highly regarded restaurants. For some truly unique cuisine, try Absinthe, a European-style bistro with a popular cocktail lounge attached.
There is a stretch of Fillmore Street that reaches up out of the Fillmore Jazz District and past Japantown to crest Pacific Heights before sharply diving towards the bay. It’s one of the most gorgeous parts of San Francisco, and it’s also home to a fabulous selection of boutique stores and designer shops. This area is known as ground zero for San Francisco’s old money, and Fillmore Street boasts shops like Cielo, where the top offerings from a variety of international designers are always on display.
Shoe lovers will find their heaven at Gimme Shoes, where fine Italian leather is the house specialty. Meanwhile, parents can browse the upscale offerings for their kids at Yountville. After a shopping marathon in Pacific Heights, nothing refreshes like a plate of ceviche from Fresca, a fine Peruvian restaurant in the area that offers more than a half dozen varieties of the famous cured fish dish.
Home to San Francisco’s young, affluent jet-setters long before the dot-com boom turned the whole city into a haven for the wealthy, the Marina still boasts the highest number of boutique shops in the entire city. For a luxurious experience, check out Union Street, where trendy retailers like Dantone stock all the latest fads and fashions including sunglasses, handbags and other upscale accessories. Then make your way over to Chestnut Street to shop at Chadwicks of London, where designer lingerie is the top selling item. The Marina is also one of San Francisco’s top dining hotspots and is home to institutions like Cafe des Amis, where Parisian specialties are served day and night.