SAN FRANCISCO ●Attractions●Neighborhoods/Shopping+Restaurants
THE TENDERLOIN’s best
Traipsing Into The Tenderloin Located adjacent to the west end of Union Square, the Tenderloin--or “TL,” as it is now being rebranded--is the polar opposite of its popular sister in atmosphere. Though this gritty neighborhood has a paucity of shopping and it could use a little TLC, it does have some interesting, inexpensive restaurants and a fascinating history that includes being “where San Franciscans once would go to be naughty.” Now, among the current population are 5,000 children and 3,500 senior citizens.
Because it is a sketchy area populated with down-and-out residents, I suggest two ways of acclimating yourself. Take a tour and/or zip in and out via Uber or cab. You’ll discover, than many people are hard at work here making things better. It will make you feel better, too, if you join in that effort. Select one of the many charities operating here and make either a financial donation or volunteer to assist.
Glide Memorial Church 330 Ellis St./Taylor St.
Tenderloin Museum 398 Eddy St./Leavenworth St.
Numerous theaters--Alcazar Theatre, EXIT Theater, Golden Gate Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, The Warfield--and art galleries are here as well.
Black Cat 400 Eddy St.
Lapats 601 Larkin St. Though it is located at the beginning of the Little Saigon Corridor on Larkin Street, this small spot presents a head-spinning selection of authentic Thai cuisine that includes noodles, curries, soups, salads, and main dishes. You are forewarned--this place knows how to do hot, and most dishes are packing heat.
Onsen 466 Eddy St.
Z Zoul Cafe 295 Eddy St. East African Sudanese cuisine and related Middle Eastern dishes are the specialty here. The baba ganoush is delicious, as is the roasted lamb wrap and simple yogurt salad. My favorites though are the appetizer flat bread topped with zatar spice mix and a dense dessert baklava. Turkish coffee and traditional Sudanese coffee is also on the menu, and fund-raising beans for the latter are packaged to go.
Many Union Square hotels assist TL charities. One that has the biggest heart is the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Check with the concierge there for current programs.
Code Tenderloin This program teaches job skills and helps with securing appropriate clothing, transportation, and childcare.
Larkin Street Youth Services The goal here is to get homeless youth off the street for good.
Project Homeless Connect This service connects people with the services they need to move forward, including housing and medical information. This service can also connect you with less-well-known programs that are worthy of your donation.
SF SafeHouse This program provides living space for women escaping sexual exploritation.
St. Anthony’s 150 Golden Gate Ave. This long-time service relies on donations to serve 2,400 meals each day, and to provide 150 people with clean clothing each day. I like their program that collects hand-knitted scarfs and hats that makers donated to their program and which are then presented as gifts to homeless people during the Christmas holidays.
Phoenix Hotel 601 Eddy St./Polk St., (800) CITY-INN, (415) 776-1380. 44 rooms. Pool. Breakfast included; rerestaurant. Free parking. Named after the mythological bird and symbolizing San Francisco’s rise from the ashes after the ‘06 quake, this resurrected urban resort was known as "Hollywood North" when it opened in the late 1950s and is now a favorite with the rock ‘n roll and filmmaking industries. David Bowie slept here. If it were a magazine it would be Rolling Stone, and its guideline words are funky, irreverent, adventurous, young-at-heart, and hip. It sits on an acre of land and features rooms opening off a sculpture garden and a pool. The standard motel-style rooms are decorated with original local art. A complimentary breakfast is served poolside, and rental bicycles and a selection of half-price theatre tickets are available to guests. Films featuring San Francisco can be viewed on an in-house channel 24-hours a day.