Valencia Street ~ San Francisco

After getting creative at the screen printing class at the Oh Happy Day studio in San Francisco last Sunday, I discovered an amazing new world on Valencia street. I felt like a tourist in my home town and all afternoon walked wide eyed and amazed at everything I saw on this vibrant street. Valencia is one block parallel to the bustling, grittier Mission Street and apparently has undergone a transformation in recent years. 

My adventure took me along Valencia from 24th Street to14th Street where I explored used book stores, saw my first parkletadmired street art and murals,drooled over many restaurants and specialty food shops, and poked around beautiful artisan boutiques, second hand  and other unique stores.

Here is a little window into a few treasures I found on Valencia Street...if you live near San Francisco, I highly recommend spending an afternoon on this awesome street.
Deepistan National Parklet
937 Valencia

I was admiring beautiful flowers in front of this home and discovered an area in the street, the size of a parking space, that had plants on either side which looked natural and inviting. I learned it was a "parklet," which is a small park made by converting a parking space into a public space for all to enjoy.

The couple who created this parklet did not own a car and created this space to welcome neighbors to stop by, sit on the planter box and enjoy the world of Valencia around them.  While I was there, a family with a child walked by and said hi to the triceratops shaped plant (named Trixie apparently) in a way that seemed like it was part of their neighborhood walk routine.  What a great way to create community in a big city! Visit their website to learn more.
*top left photo courtesy of  Deepistan National Parklet

Dog Eared Books
900 Valencia
I was so pleased to see not one, but two used book stores on Valencia (the other is Borderland Books at 866 Valencia which sells new & used fantasy/science fiction books). It seems bookstores are a dying breed these days and it was so wonderful to be able to thumb through a real book!

Paxton Gate
824 Valencia
When I walked into Paxton Gate, I felt like I was in Deyrolle in Paris as I was greeted with a stuffed unicorn (actually a horse) at the front door and a display of amazing terrariums as I walked in. It is full of treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and natural sciences and is like no other store you have seen!

Paxton Gate Curiosities
766 Valencia
This amazing store is in a beautiful old building and carries the most natural, un-technological items for kids including wooden and old fashioned toys, fanciful art, books, creative materials and smart science kits. A great place to buy unusual gifts and fun spot to explore.

Craftsmen and Wolves
736 Valencia
This is a contemporary patisserie that again reminded me of shops in Paris, but in addition to amazing looking croissants and cookies, it had unusual items, such as the "rebel within", a savory muffin that has sausage, cheese, onion with a soft cooked egg inside. I wanted to try the savory cake with kale and sliced almonds on top.

Clarion Alley Mural Art and other art 
One block over from 17th between Valencia and Mission
Clarion Alley is full of contemporary style murals that were started in 1992. You also see colorful art on various other buildings in this area. The trees along Valencia have grates around them festooned with Latin icons Dia de los Muertos skeletons that look like they are dancing- very fun!

Mission Cheese
736 Valencia
At Mission Cheese, the decor and menu are simple- they offer delicious cheese flights served on a wooden cutting board, heavenly looking mac'n cheese and sandwiches with a side salad. You order at the bar and they bring the food to your table and then you bus the dishes at the end. Even though it was a warm day, I enjoyed the raclette with a crisp glass of cold white wine that they recommended.
Panchitas Pupuseria
3016 16th Street, right off Valencia

I was curious about the line outside of a little cart in the street in front of Panchitas Pupuseria. It was full of people ready to enjoy a pupusa or two- they were 2 for $5 and had a variety of filling options. I learned that a pupusas are a tradional Salvadoran dish made of thick, handmade corn tortillas that are filled with cheese, and some kind of meat and/or beans. I am trying one next time I'm in town!

Thread Lounge
724 Valencia
The window displays lured me inside the Thread Lounge, where I met the owner, Colleen. She explained that she and her boyfriend travel the world to buy items from artisans and designers and sell designer pieces at a fraction of the cost at other boutiques. I enjoyed her merchandising of worldly, interesting clothing, purses and pieces for your home, but found the prices still to be a bit high. Fun to poke around in the store, though!

Dandelion Chocolate 
740 Valencia
Chocolate lovers must visit this store- it's all about amazing delicious chocolate! They make their chocolate onsite and have tours of their factory in addition to offering chocolate making classes. They have an inviting cafe as well.

741 Valencia
I know there are several Tacolicious restaurants, with one even opening recently in Palo Alto, so this is not a "one of a kind" restaurant. But the scene was so lively inside the restaurant and the deck outside was so full of such happy looking customers on a Sunday afternoon, it made me want to be there with them!

Aldea Home  890 Valencia
Harrington Galleries 599 Valencia
There were several interesting home furnishing and accessory stores, including Aldea which had this floor to ceiling macrame light tapestry (for a mere $8,000) and the Harrington Galleries which sells new and used furniture, much of which is brightly painted. I saw the white "butt" chairs in a restaurant and just couldn't resist taking a picture!

The Vestry, sister restaurant to 
The Chapel, a live music venue 
777 Valencia
The Vestry was hip-happening on my day of exploration- the deck was full of Sunday brunchers and inside was packed as well. It is next door to The Chapel has live bands every night and at 
$15-20 a ticket, sure as heck beats big concert prices. Could be a fun adventure night.

Lucca Ravioli Co. 
1100 Valencia
Lucca was closed on Sunday, but I wish I could have brought home some of their fresh pasta, hot coppa, pancetta and fresh ricotta cheese for my Italian hubby!

Mission Picnic 
3275 22nd St, between Valencia and Mission
As I walked by this tiny store, there were people standing in the street waiting for sandwiches. The menu had tasty looking sandwiches for around $10, a few salads and drinks. Must be a great place to get food to bring along on your afternoon adventures.

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