The TenderNob area proves to be more than just Union Square's quirky neighbor. By Sydney Pfaff
No longer the middle ground between the gritty, crime-ridden Tenderloin and the slick society of Nob Hill, San Francisco's Lower Nob Hill—sweetly nicknamed the TenderNob—is home to a recent surplus of cool fashion outposts, restaurants, and specialty shops. Having always been a busy quadrant due to the close proximity to bustling Union Square, the area is now starting to declare its own quirky identity.
The district acted as a setting for Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade character's apartment—there is a small street named after the writer reaching between Bush and Pine streets. The Empire Hotel (now known as the York, but soon to be known as Hotel Vertigo) on Sutter Street also played a role in Hitchcock's Vertigo. Popular for young artists (the Academy of Art University has five dorm buildings and three more department buildings covering a 3-block radius in the area), professional 20-and-30-somethings and hipsters alike, the artsy neighborhood plays host to many independently owned shops and eateries, and remains nearly untouched by national corporations—there isn't even a Starbucks—yet.
•Look Boutique & Silverman Gallery, 804 Sutter Street; 415-255-9508
Combining art and fashion under one roof yields the newly opened duo of Silverman Gallery and Look Boutique. Previously located in the Dogpatch, the gallery is now housed with the boutique, originally an online-only store. The shop offers clothing, accessories and books that complement each month's exhibition, all handpicked by owner Jessica Silverman and creative director Carolina Amaris. The apparel lines include exclusive-to-SF collections, such as House of Holland, Jessie Hill, and French label Heimstone, as well as jewelry from Giles and Brother, We Are Powerhaus, and Kimann Foxman. The current exhibition Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough's "Symptom of the Universe," runs through April 20.
•Babylon Falling, 1017 Bush Street; 415-345-1017
Owner Sean Stewart opened Babylon Falling with a nod to the spirit of Revolution and conscious consumption. Inspired by his Jamaican heritage, the shop stocks over 3,000 well-chosen titles—everything from photography books of California's coastline to portrait compilations by artist David Choong Lee to monographs on the history of the I.R.A.—along with art documentaries, collectible toys, and vintage posters. Stewart hosts monthly events to premier in-house art exhibitions that enhance the essence of the community bookstore.
•The Hundreds, 585 Post Street; 415-440-7700
With a cult-like following like the Hundreds has, there's no doubt that sneaker heads will flock to stock up on limited edition T-shirts (a small load were made in collaboration with Hieroglyphics), selvedge denim from TH's Public Label and heaps of hats emblazoned with the animated bomb logo. The cave-like shop, accented with rock walls covered in faux human skulls, opened just days ago and is their second outpost—the first is located in L.A.'s Fairfax district.
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