Rife with gambling dens, billiard halls and speakeasies in the 1920s, this central San Franciscan neighbourhood had a dark past as the city’s underbelly – hence its moniker.
1. Tilden Hotel
The once-neglected Mark Twain Hotel has become the minimalist-cool Tilden Hotel, complete with a high-energy watering hole, The Douglas Room, which opened in February 2017. Brooklyn-based design firm Studio Tack brought the 1928 classic into the present with clean lines, natural textures and plenty of Californian sunlight.
2. Hero Shop
A former editor at Vogue, Emily Holt returned to her hometown to open Hero Shop. The fashion and lifestyle concept store, which occupies a high-ceilinged, brick-walled space, carries on-trend fashion labels such as Creatures of the Wind and Delfina Delettrez, as well as less well-known local brands such as Stevie Howell and Future Gory.
3. Black Cat
Just over a year old, Black Cat – with brick walls and luxe elements such as rich velvet and distressed leather – has established itself as a prime bar, restaurant and live-music venue. Tip back classic concoctions such as the Vieux Carré (cognac, armagnac, rye whiskey, vermouth, Benedictine and bitters) while enjoying live jazz.
An artist-custom builder pair turned an old car-repair shop into a restaurant with an attached Japanese-style bathhouse. Its 3,000 sq ft interior has been transformed into a wood-clad sanctuary. Post-healing massage, nourish yourself with delicate maitake mushroom dumplings in katsuobushi (dried kelp and bonito fish flakes) broth at its restaurant.
Jessica Silverman has grown her eponymous gallery into one of the city’s most respected art dealers, discovering and placing artworks at such prestigious international museums as the Tate and Centre Pompidou. See pieces by her fledgling and established clients in this ambitious gallery.
The immensely popular Brenda’s French Soul Food is a neighbourhood mainstay. Whether for breakfast or dinner, be sure to get a piping hot beignet (below) with molten Ghirardelli chocolate or spiced crawfish. Other comforting favourites include the shrimp and grits, and chicken, sausage and okra gumbo.
A defunct Sizzler restaurant was reborn as the Tenderloin Museum that chronicles the neighbourhood’s history of jazz and counterculture. The US$3.5-million museum offers fascinating exhibitions as well as walking tours that lend intimate perspectives to this dynamic district.
– TEXT BY CHANEY KWAK
PHOTOS: SUPPLIED, RAQUEL VENANCIO PHOTOGRAPHY, JESSICA SILVERMAN GALLERY, BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD, TENDERLOIN MUSEUM, ELIZABETH LIPPMAN
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.