The Tenderloin is one of the most notorious – yet least appreciated – neighborhoods in San Francisco. It is infamous for its strip clubs, street people and nefarious street activities, but few realize how much the area has changed in recent years. And few appreciate the breadth of culture and history the Tenderloin has to offer.
The Tenderloin got its name for the cops who were paid so much to walk the beat, they could afford the choicest cuts of meat. But Dashiell Hammett lived here (891 Post) and set The Maltese Falcon on its streets. And the Black Hawk nightclub in the 1950s and 60s (now Club 222) saw the likes of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan record live albums. It was also the city’s first gay neighborhood, well before the Castro.
As San Francisco becomes increasingly gentrified, more young people are moving into the Tenderloin’s real estate, living in its apartments, condominiums and lofts. They have come to realize that not only is much of this property fairly affordable, it is wonderfully centrally located, with easy access to many parts of the city.
Little Saigon is situated along Larkin Street in the Tenderloin. For some of the best Vietnamese food in the city, stop by Bodega Bistro, Mangosteen, Saigon Sandwiches or Pagolac.
And Little India – also nicknamed the Tandoor-loin – is further East. Great restaurants to experience include Shalimar, Pakwan, Lahore Karahi and Chutney.
New residents of the “Trendyloin.” have brought with them a crop of new, hip bars, restaurants and art galleries. Stop into White Walls or the Luggage Store Gallery. Great places to eat include Dottie’s True Blue Café, Brenda’s French Soul Food and Farmerbrown. For entertainment catch a show at the EXIT Theater or Great American Music Hall, or dance all night at Suite 181 or Bambuddha Lounge.
There is no shortage or bars in the Tenderloin. Some of the newer spots include Bourbon & Branch, Olive Bar and Edinburgh Castle. But there are plenty of old-school dives like the Ha-Ra Club, Club 65, 800 Larkin and the Brown Jug.
And the fun doesn’t stop there: the Tendernob is also filled with new restaurants, bars and boutiques, just a few blocks away.