Shopping on the Valencia Street Corridor

Some of San Francisco’s Most Eclectic Shopping Is Found on the Valencia Street Corridor

Valencia Street is one of the main arteries in San Francisco’s iconic Mission District and one of the emerging hotspots for shopping, dining, nightlife and shopping. It’s worth mentioning shopping twice, as few neighborhoods and commercial strips in the city offer a more funky, interesting and eclectic blend of shops, from local mom-and-pops to trendy national and international niche retailers and all points in-between.

Starting with clothing, you’ll see the obligatory lululemon activewear storefront right next to a local joint selling vintage threads from the 50s and 60s. Trendy spots such as Taylor Stitch and Nooworks offer made-in-America fashions created by local and national designers for hipsters and those wishing to increase their hipness quotient. If millinery is your thing, make sure to check out ADS Hats, where you can browse headgear from recognized brands, as well as a wide selection from local designers. For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, linger inside Laku, where designer Yaeko Yamashita crafts shoes, scarves, onesies and other gear from imported antique fabrics from Japan.

The Valencia Corridor is also one of the city’s best places for second-hand record and bookstores. If frittering away an afternoon riffling through books, records and CDs is your idea of time well spent, you’re going to love storefronts such as Aquarius Records, Dog Eared Books, Lost Weekend Video, Force of Habit Records, Borderlands Books (for sci-fi and fantasy geeks) and many others.

Since shopping, browsing and people watching are such taxing endeavors, one can only go so long without sustenance (or caffeine). That’s why shoppers linger at funky joints with names such as Burger Joint, Café Que Tal, Dosa, Herbivore, Medjool, Tartine and scores of others. Suffice it to say, whether you’re looking for free-trade Sumatran coffee, Lebanese soul food, righteous Guatemalan cuisine, a respectably greasy and decadent burger and other culinary and brewed delights, the Valencia Corridor is the place to begin your quest.

It would be criminal not to mention that this strip is also one of the best places in the Bay Area for secondhand clothing aficionados to abuse their credit cards and fashion sense. From poodle skirts to dirndls to suffocating corsets, gabardine suits and all other weird and wonderful clothing from other places and eras, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find what you’re looking for at one of the many vintage clothing stores on Valencia.

You’ll also find retailers for taxidermists, pirate gear, ethnic grocery stores, Santeria worshipers and damned near everything else. They used to say that you could find anything that you were looking for on Portobello Road in London. That may still be true, but you’re much better off looking instead on the Valencia Corridor in The Mission. You’re likely to find it, and the food’s probably much better, too.

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