Regularly described as ‘the worst neighborhood in San Francisco’, the Tenderloin should not be bypassed. Granted, there’s no denying that the neighborhood does have its fair share of drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and street people. But if you can get past the garbage, you’ll be surprised to discover what few else have discovered: the Tenderloin is an exciting, diverse neighborhood.

But first, what’s with the name?

The Tenderloin nickname goes back to the days when cops were paid more for working the tougher areas of town. Police who made more money could afford better cuts of meat, and those who worked the rough streets of this neighborhood were able to afford the best tenderloins around. But those days are gone and, in all actuality, the neighborhood is going through a slow transition, slowly becoming gentrified like the rest of the city’s neighborhoods.

Where it’s At

The Tenderloin is tucked between Geary Street, Van Nesse Avenue and Mission Street.

What to See

For theater goers, the ornate Iczar Theater is a former Shriner temple turned Byzantine-décor small theater (650 Geary St.). There’s also the Street Theater Festival with its gigantic puppets, trapeze and assortment of circus acts.

If you have every watched televised masses, then you are probably familiar with the Glide Memorial Church of San Francisco. The Glide Memorial Church draws crowds from around the world for spiritual enlightenment, gospel, rock and freedom songs and to hear the preaching of one of San Francisco’s most revered minister (330 Ellis St.).

Last but not least, a visit to the Tenderloin is never complete without at least a casual peak at Mitchell Bros. O’Farrell Theater. The place is much more than a strip club, it is a true piece of Americana that has hosted numerous celebrity journalists and rock stars throughout its years.

Where to Eat

Besides its great play on words, the Tandoor-loin is one of the best curry places among the dozen or so within the area. Enjoy a sitar serenaded dinner or take the spicy chicken tikka masala to go.

Farmerbrown’s offers a new twist to traditional soul food, such as the rib-eye steak with anchovy sage butter. After hours you can grab gumbo and po’boys from the bar (25 Mason St).