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What's It Like?
This privileged, elegant neighborhood embodies Hollywood's vision of San Francisco, and its blocks of Victorian mansions and its Cinemascope views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge make the area a perennial favorite with visitors to the city. San Francisco locals tend to be a bit more cynical about the exclusive air of Pacific Heights, but that doesn't mean you won't catch residents of other neighborhoods making a special trip for the eclectic, upscale shopping opportunities that Fillmore Street offers.
The neighborhood is loosely bordered by Van Ness and Presidio avenues and Pine and Vallejo streets and was first colonized by the nouveau riche of the late 1800s when the construction of a new cable-car line made the area accessible. The extravagant dwellings that characterize the district today stand as testimony to the desire of those early residents to impress their Nob Hill neighbors.
That legacy of luxury has persisted, and the neighborhood remains generally quiet and residential, with the majority of its activity clustered around Fillmore Street. For the most part, the activity of choice is shopping, with an emphasis on costly women's clothing and high-stakes luxury items. The strip is also peppered with nice gift boutiques, bath-and-body shops and consignment stores. But if you don't feel like spending money, it can be fun to settle in at a sidewalk café and watch everyone else parade by. The area draws a variety of American and international tourists and is always well populated by impossibly groomed and outfitted locals who seem capable of strolling through a windstorm without having a hair get out of place.
Best Time To Go
With its shopping options, scenic views and pretty side streets, Pacific Heights was made for sunny weekend afternoon strolling and coffee sipping. Though the area quiets down considerably in the evening, a crop of excellent restaurants have opened in recent years, giving night crawlers a reason to stick around after dark.
News: Fillmore St. gets free Wi-Fi (5/05)
Sights & Culture
Steps at Broadway and Lyon: For a quintessential Pacific Heights moment, descend these steps set between sumptuous houses and the Presidio. From the hedge garden you can glimpse of the Palace of the Fine Arts and the Bay below.
Alta Plaza Park: This small hilltop park to the west of Fillmore Street has tennis courts, a playground and panoramic city views.
Lafayette Park: On warm days, the green grass of this two-square-block park is full of sunbathers and dog walkers. The tennis courts have a bit more wind protection than those at Alta Plaza.
Haas-Lilienthal House: Go back in time with a visit to this fully furnished and preserved 1886 Queen Anne Victorian, replete with turrets and gables. The house, which serves as headquarters for San Francisco Architectural Heritage, is open for tours -- see the Web site for times and price info. 2007 Franklin St., (415) 441-3004. (Web site)
Spreckels Mansion: Romance novelist Danielle Steele and family reside in this ornate pre-WWI home fronting Lafayette Park. 2080 Washington St.
Elite Cafe: The updated Elite still focuses on New Orleans flavors. Fans of the sweet, flaky biscuits from Joanna Karlinsky's closed Meetinghouse Restaurant can celebrate now that she's brought them here. Designer Charles a'Court updated the interior, with glossy mahogany boothsm a refinished bar, chocolate-plum walls and elegant chandeliers. (-SF Chronicle) 2049 Fillmore St., (415) 346-8400. (Chronicle Review)
Ella's: Though roundly esteemed for its contemporary American cuisine, Ella's is best known for its brunch, which has included such past favorites as brandied French toast. Once you've done your time waiting in the inevitable line, reward yourself with a house-baked sticky bun and a glass of fresh-squeezed juice. 500 Presidio Ave., (415) 441-5669.(Chronicle Review)
Frankie's Bohemian Café: This Czech-American restaurant and bar is one of the livelier places to grab a quick bite or a swallow of Pilsner Urquell on this stretch of Divisadero. Choose from standard burger fare or Bohemian specialties such as brambory, a potato-zucchini pancake served with a variety of toppings. 1862 Divisadero St., (415) 921-4725.
Fresca: Ceviche comes in eight flavors in this modern Peruvian restaurant. There is shrimp ceviche with roasted jalapenos and tomato gazpacho, as well as Ceviche Chino, featuring red Ahi tuna with avocado mash and crispy wontons. Many main dishes are also from the sea -- crab cakes, calamari, seafood stew and arroz con mariscos, but rotisserie chicken is still a favorite. Fresca serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. 2114 Fillmore St., (415) 447-2668. (Web site)
Garibalidis on Presidio: One of the more lively spots in the area, Girabaldis serves California cuisine with a Mediterranean twist. House favorites are Chicken Breast Milanese, Mediterranean Lamb Tenderloin, and asparagus appetizer with pancetta, garlic, chili oil, and oyster sauce. Save room for the divine Chocolate Budino for dessert, featuring espresso ice cream, praline, and caramel sauce. There is also an extensive wine list including uncommon, "misunderstood" varietals. 347 Presidio Ave., (415) 563-8841. (Chronicle Review)
The Grove Fillmore: This neighborhood gathering spot is abuzz with laptops, cell phones and cool music, with customers fuelled by breakfast fare such as country baked eggs and huevos rancheros. The Grove's array of sandwiches run the gamut from the deli-style Reuben to a Sloppy Joe, while entrees vary from macaroni and cheese to lasagna. Also popular is the restaurant's line of exotic herbal teas. 2016 Fillmore St., (415) 474-1419.
Jackson Fillmore: Moderately priced Italian food includes zucchini carpaccio, sea bass fra diavolo, tiramisu and hot zabaglione. (SF Chronicle) 2506 Fillmore St., (415) 346-5288. (Chronicle Review)
La Boulange: Similar to the other French bakeries in the Bay Bread family and half a block away from the original (Boulangerie Bay Bread), this one offers fresh-baked pastries and breads, salads and coffee drinks. 2043 Fillmore St. (near Pine), (415) 928-1300. (Web site)
La Mediterranee: Savory food, reasonable prices and consistently friendly service make this narrow strip of a restaurant a neighborhood favorite. Don't miss the hummus, baba ghanoush and tabuleh appetizer combo. 2210 Fillmore St., (415) 921-2956.
Rigolo: This Laurel Village spot is baker-restaurateur Pascal Rigo's latest addition to the Bay Bread family. The restaurant, which means "a little funny" in French, combines a boulangerie and cafe and offers breakfast, brunch and lunch, all ordered at the counter. The menu also includes homemade pastas, pulled pork sandwiches and seasonal fruit tarts for dessert. (SF Chronicle) 3465 California St. (near Laurel Street), (415) 876-7777. (Chronicle review)
Royal Ground Coffee: Small and unassuming cafe is a WiFi hotspot and laundromat, making it a one-stop shop for many. 2060 Fillmore St., (415) 567-8822.
Solstice: Young hipsters flock to Solstice for its social dining and live DJs. The menus consists mainly of a variety of small plates, such as halibut ceviche, gorgonzola macaroni and cheese and chicken pot pie, as well as shared plates in the line of wild mushroom pizza, baked brie fondue and pan roasted coconut curry mussels. The bar scene gets packed with singles on weekends. DJs spin Thursday through Saturday, while there is live music, usually acoustic sets, on Sundays. 2801 California St., (415) 359-1222. (Chronicle review/Web site)
Ten-Ichi: Don't stop with the sushi at this comfortable Japanese restaurant. Try the tasty tempura and teriyaki, or sample the innovative specials. 2235 Fillmore St., (415) 346-3477.
Blu: The classic couture at Blu stems from a core 15 European designers, including Kenzo and Martin Margiela, who create pieces from cashmere, silk and mohair blends with prices befitting high-end apparel. Accessories like Barbara Bui shoes and Alex & Lee jewelry complete the looks. The owners also run Cielo down the street. 2259 Fillmore St., (415) 776-0643.
Cielo: High-end European designers such as Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester cater to the hippest fashion connoisseurs and stars like Meg Ryan and Anne Heche, yet Cielo's friendly staff avoids the all too prevalent couture snobbery. Just check the price tag before doing permanent damage to your bank account. Cielo shares the same owners as Blu. 2225 Fillmore St., (415) 776-0641.
Eileen Fisher: This is the first San Francisco boutique for this established brand of well-made, flowing, comfortable basics in solid colors, fine fabrics and forgiving silhouettes. (-SF Chronicle) 2216 Fillmore St., (415) 346-2133.
Erica Tanov: This shop has lovely, simple clothes in beautiful fabrics, most of them Erica Tanov designs. The designer has collected antique fabrics for years, which shows in the overall aesthetic as well as in the clothes themselves. Bed linens, elegant underthings, imported sweaters and children's clothes to sigh over complete the picture. 2408 Fillmore St. (Web site)
Heidi Says: Known for its whimsical window displays, HeidiSays targets young professionals with its classic, yet edgy style. Designers like Nanette Lepore, Trina Turk, and Rebecca Taylor are all favorites. Casual lines such as True Religion jeans and James Perse sexy tees sit alongside other staples like hoodies and cashmere sweaters. Thyme lotions, Tocca candles, Hollywould shoes all round out the collection. Prices are mid-to upscale for the neighborhood. 2426 Fillmore St., (415) 749-0655. (Web site)
Margaret O'Leary: This Irish-born but locally-based sweater designer makes delicate knits and elegant casual clothing for women. The shop also carries some accessories and other items of apparel by like-minded designers. 2400 Fillmore St., (415) 771-9982. (Web site)
Metro 200: What sets Metro 200 apart from other shops on the block is its upscale apparel at reasonable prices, as well as the store's warm, friendly service. Most of the designers hail from Europe, mainly France and Italy. Metro 200 boasts the largest selection of Cop.Copine in the Bay Area. The fashions are unique, ranging from hand-beaded skirts to Save the Queen Italian tops. Metro 200 also carries jewelry from European designers. 2116 Fillmore St., (415) 776-5652.
My Boudoir: Carrying an impressive list of European designers, mostly from France and Italy, the selection of classic lingerie is geared toward a young clientele. Designer names include Versace, Chiarugi, Cristina Stott, Lise Charmel and Aubade. Specialty items include all silk sets and lingerie embellished with crystal. Prices are not for weak of heart -- a simple silk bra can fetch $200. Local designers provide jewelry and romantic candles. 2029 Fillmore St., (415) 346-1502. (Web site)
Yountville: For some 20 years, Yountville has been a neighborhood favorite for parents dressing their children. Catering to infant to size eight for girls and infant to size four for boys, the store carries stylish formal and casual clothes for kids as well as basics such as pajamas and sweaters. Specialty items set this store apart, including hand-embroidered booties from Turkey and Chinese-style sequined shoes. Prices are very reasonable. 2416 Fillmore St., (415) 922-5050.
Shoes & Accessories
Crosswalk Specialty Shoes: The specialty here is comfort-shoes made for people who are on their feet long hours at a stretch. Labels like Camper, Merrell, and Dansko fill the shelves. Crosswalk also carries a small selection of trendy styles for women, though comfort is still key. 2122 Fillmore St., (415) 921-0292. (Web site)
Gimme Shoes: Downtown styles in an uptown neighborhood. Choose from French and Italian brands like Miu Miu and Robert Clergiere for women and Costume National for men. 2358 Fillmore St., (415) 441-3040.
Paolo: For those in search of classic Italian leather shoes, Paolo features many one-of-a-kind styles for men and women. These high-end shoes don't come cheap, ranging in price from $150 to $700 a pair. Paolo, which also has locations on Sutter Street and in Hayes Valley, also designs handbags, gloves, and belts. Pine at Fillmore.
Gallery of Jewels: Find one-of-a-kind jewelry made by local Bay Area and Northern California artists. Gallery of Jewels sells good-quality midrange pieces by more than 100 jewelry makers whose work ranges in media from silver and semiprecious stones to clusters of funky beads. 2115 Fillmore St., (415) 771-5099.
Crossroads Trading Co.: Fillmore possesses a surprising number of thrift shops, but Crossroads represents the best of the bunch. Buy, sell or trade new and recycled clothes, shoes and accessories (including designer items). 1901 Fillmore St., (415) 775-8885. (Web site)
Next-to-New-Shop/Consignment Boutique: There are two sides to Next-to-New, one a consignment boutique, and the other based on donation. The consignment side features high-end labels at palatable prices. Chanel suits, Yves Saint Laurent shoes, and Armani jackets are just a few items in the racks. Aside from clothes, the boutique offers crystal glasses, handbags, prints, and porcelain collectibles. The deals are better on the donation side, which benefits the Junior League of San Francisco, supporting community programs for women and children. 2226 Fillmore St., (415) 567-1627/(415) 440-1500.
San Francisco Symphony Repeat Performance: All the benefits from this resale shop go to the San Francisco Symphony. The clothes come courtesy of donations, and suit the neighborhood clientele, with designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Bullock & Jones, and Jil Sander at affordable prices. Other items for sale include Babushka dolls, tea sets, books, and kitchenware. 2436 Fillmore St., (415) 563-3123.
Seconds-to-Go Resale Shop: Proceeds here benefit the Sacred Heart Scholarship. There are some gems among the wide range of stock. 2252 Fillmore St., (415) 563-7806.
Nest: This home-accoutrements store mixes Parisian elegance with rustic country elements. Whimsical crystal chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, and shelves are laden with such goodies as chocolate-pear soap, glittery silver alphabet letters and beaded butterfly napkin rings. The stock of fine bed linens might include vintage coverlets, faded cabbage-rose sheets or satin quilts in peacock and tangerine. Also on Polk St. in Russian Hill. 2300 Fillmore St., (415) 292-6199.
Timeless Treasures: In this modest but delightful vintage-interiors store, owner Joan O'Connor sells American and French country and rustic things she collects on annual trips back to her New England roots. Along with a plethora of heart-shaped cookie-cutters, sterling lockets, boxes and other items, you'll find glassware from the 1920s to 1940s, cake plates, metal curio shelves, old paintings and linens. (-SF Chronicle/SF Gate) 2176 Sutter St. (at Pierce), (415) 775-8366. (Web site)
Benefit Cosmetics: The fun, retro aesthetic of this cosmetics boutique gives patrons that special I-enjoy-being-a-girl feeling. Choose from lipstick colors such as "But Officer" and the "Kitten" line of sparkling powders designed for those who "prowl all night and nap all day." Benefit also offers waxing and other salon services, swiftly performed and yielding chic results. 2117 Fillmore St., (415) 567-0242. (Web site)
International Orange: Named for the paint color on the Golden Gate Bridge, International Orange emits New York City cool. Its stark decor is home to a spa and yoga studio. Treatments include a Holistic purification and a Custom Enzyme Boost. A variety of yoga styles are taught including Hatha, Ashtanga, and Flow. 2044 Fillmore St 2nd Fl., (800) 387-7918. (Web site)
Jurlique: The Australian-based cosmetics company Jurlique combines an all-Jurlique product showroom with small spa facilities. The lotions, body gels, moisturizers, bubble baths, and makeup are all 100 percent organic and animal curelty-free, using products mostly grown on a farm in Australia. There are two spa treatment rooms for facials, body treatments, waxing, and massage. 2136 Fillmore St., 415-346-7881, (Web site)
L'Occitane: This French fragrance company specializes in natural scents from Provence, including lavender, verbena, honey and blackberry flower. The range of products includes perfume, essential oil, a bath-and-body line and fragrances for the home. 2207 Fillmore St., (415) 563-6600. (Web site)
MAC Fillmore: Anyone in line for a makeover will find a plethora of cosmetics here. MAC lets customers try its line of eye shadows, lipsticks, and foundations, and the gregarious staff is always ready to help. 2011 Fillmore St., (415) 885-2966. (Web site)
Atelier Yarns: This knitting and needlework "studio" elevates the needle arts from a musty hobby to a creative and even therapeutic craft. Atelier's gracious owner offers a range of companionable in-store courses in which students can learn to make sweaters or socks -- or simply learn to cast on. Luscious yarns in jewel tones and heather tweeds line the walls; other supplies include patterns, needles, buttons and books. 1945 Divisadero St., (415) 771-1550. (Chronicle Article)
Browser Books: The only bookstore along this stretch of Fillmore, Browser Books is a cozy neighborhood spot with a reading table in back and a knowledgeable staff up front. Nice touches like Oriental rugs and a chirping bird by the door make visits here downright homey. 2195 Fillmore St., (415) 567-8027.
D & M Wine and Liquor Co.: D&M touts its Single Malt Scotch Whisky collection as by far the largest in the city. The store carries from 200 to 300 different Single Malts on its shelves at a time. It also boasts the largest selection in the world of Armagnac, produced in Southwest France. Nearly as impressive is the Champagne selection, which all hails from France. 2200 Fillmore St., (415) 346-1325. (Web site)
Juicy News: Don't miss this newsstand extraordinaire at the top of the hill, stocked with foreign and domestic newspapers, art journals and magazines for every taste. And if all that reading makes you thirsty, order one of the place's selection of smoothies (each named after a magazine) from the juice bar. 2453 Fillmore St., (415) 441-3051.
George: A pet-supply boutique for the furry friend who has everything. Biscuits and treats are top-quality, and toys and accessories are handsome and durable, but pricey. 2411 California St., (415) 441-0564. (Web site)
Paper Source: The tempting selection of stationery and note cards at this paper-goods mecca inspires patrons to return to the imperiled art of letter writing. The back room is lined with shelves of blank paper and envelopes in an array of colors and designs. Up front, choose from exquisite wrapping and art papers, notebooks and rubber stamps. 1925 Fillmore St., (415) 409-7710. (Web site)
Vino!: Not your run-of-the-mill wine shop, Vino! Carries more than 300 varieties of wines from around the world, with a focus on French and California wines. The shop considers itself similar to a wine club, with store assistants helping customers pair wines with food. Bottles average around $15, though some run lower and finer wines obviously a bit more. 2425A California St., (415) 674-8466.
Clay Theater: Built in 1910, the single-screen Clay is one of the oldest theaters in San Francisco. Count on it for the current popular foreign release, a worthy art-house film or a midnight showing (it hosted SF's first in 1972 with the premiere of John Water's "Pink Flamingos"). Now managed by Landmark, it has digital sound, new seats and refurbished art deco and classic Greek decor. 2261 Fillmore St., (415) 352-0810. (Web site)
Harry's: One of the few nightspots along Fillmore Street, Harry's provides entertainment for neighborhood professionals looking to unwind. 2020 Fillmore St., (415) 921-1000.
Updated by Marlene Goldman, Special to SF Gate (2/05); Previous contributors: Chrissa Banner, Jennifer Bush