the urbanist: san francisco

A Day Out in Divisadero, San Francisco’s Epicenter of Cool

Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco Photo: Aya Brackett/Courtesy of Sightglass

Divisadero, once a sleepy residential neighborhood, is now one of the best places to eat, drink, and hang out in the city — and it’s pretty far off the tourist map. Josey Baker, founder of the beloved Divisadero bakery The Mill, walks us through his perfect day on the corridor.

6 a.m.:Yoga Garden has amazing classes at all times of the day. You have to walk through this cozy garden oasis to get into the studio. I’m a fan of smaller, more intimate classes, and here, each class is capped at 20 people. Vinyasa is a really phenomenal way to start your day: By 7 o’clock, you’ve already gotten an hour of exercise, stretching, and mediation.”

7:30 a.m.: Sightglass Coffee is a peaceful little café that opened last year. I love to sip a cappuccino or short Americano in one of the leather-backed booths.”

B. Patisserie Photo: Courtesy of B. Patisserie

9 a.m.: Eddie’s Cafe, which is right on the corner, was one of the first restaurants I ate at when I moved to San Francisco. It’s from a bygone era. It’s no-frills — they’ve got mismatched diner mugs and you can get any meal for under $10. For breakfast, I usually order a stack of pancakes with two eggs over-easy and a side of bacon. Alternatively, B. Patisserie makes some of the best pastries in the country. I love their kouign-amann and their chocolate-chip cookies. They’ve got all sorts of gorgeous, delicate works of edible art that, if I’m really treating myself, I’ll splurge on. It’s always worth it.”

10:30 a.m.: The Perish Trust is a Divisadero staple. It’s a modern-day general store run by two artists. They focus more on old pieces — like vintage books about California — and things made by artisans in the West, like beeswax hand salve from Bonny Doon Farm. It’s a great place to take home an unusual bit of California.”

11 a.m.:Rare Device carries all sorts of artful odds and ends, like walnut wall clocks, refillable fountain pens, and driftwood hanging planters. Everything they sell is chosen with care, and much of it is handmade. They’re especially good about supporting artists — they host monthly art shows and carry a lot of locally made pieces.”

12 p.m.: Bi-Rite Market is a real gem of San Francisco. They have the most phenomenal produce and meats and cheese and beer and wine, all in one place. It’s too good to be true. Plus, they have an ice-cream shop and deli. I get sandwiches from there lot. I like the achiote-rubbed chicken on focaccia and the Vegan Hippy. It’s made with avocado and sweet potato [and served] on our Seed Feast bread; it’s really delicious.”

The painted ladies near Alamo Square Park Photo: David Callan/Getty Images

1 p.m.: Alamo Square Park is great for hanging out. It just had a makeover so it’s got really lush grass. At the center of it is this big grove of tall trees. The east side is the busier side; that’s where San Francisco’s painted ladies are [the famous row of candy-colored Edwardian and Victorian houses], so there’s a slew of tourists there. I mostly hang on the west side. It’s pretty much always mellow.”

3 p.m.: Everlasting Tattoo is where my bakers and I frequent for tattoos. Mike Davis, the owner, is also a painter; he’s usually game to give an impromptu ‘team’ tattoo at a totally reasonable price. Recently, a few of us got a bear by one of our favorite East Bay artists, Rob Moss Wilson. They feature rotating guest artists and usually have room for walk-ins.”

5 p.m.: “For an amazing happy hour, go to Nopa. It’s a San Francisco institution with archetypal seasonal California cuisine and some of the best cocktails in town — like the Missing Piece, a mix of bourbon, cynar, cranberry, and lemon, with a splash of tonic. But you can’t go wrong no matter you order. For food, get the burger. It’s reasonably sized — quality over quantity — and served on a house-made brioche bun. And their French fries are out of this fucking world.”

Madrone Art Bar Photo: Dirk Wyse/Courtesy of Madrone Art Bar

7 p.m.: Madrone Art Bar is another Divisadero staple. They pride themselves on their rotating art shows and live music. When we were opening The Mill, we were there every day after work. I was drinking lots of whiskey cocktails.”

8:30 p.m.:The Independent is an amazing live music venue. It’s relatively intimate. You can see some really big names — like the Posies and George Clinton — and not be more than 30 feet away from them. It’s pretty special in that regard.”

A Day Out in Divisadero, San Francisco’s Epicenter of Cool