5 Things To Know About San Francisco’s Tenderloin Neighborhood

Right now there are five fresh reasons to hang out in one of the city’s most fascinating neighborhoods:

1. Until now, the kind of massages you’d find being offered in the TL were probably, well, not exactly legal. But early next month a new, entirely aboveboard spa called the Onsen is due to open, complete with sauna, steam room, communal bath, and restaurant. The aesthetic is bare brick walls, cool gray slate floors, and cedar fittings—a little patch of Japan in the shell of an old auto-body shop.

raquel-venancio-photography-034Photo Courtesy of Raquel Venancio Marins

2. Just around the corner and already open for business, the Black Cat nightclub offers a late-night menu of rabbit pot pie, chicken cacciatore, and patty melts; classic cocktails and a Champagne menu edited by wine director Eugenio Jardim (formerly of Jardinière); plus, of course, live jazz in a suitably slinky setting.

downstairs-widePhoto Courtesy of Kelly Puleio

3. Right across Leavenworth Street from the Black Cat, the small but choice Tenderloin Museum celebrates a gritty but vibrant part of town often dismissed by the rest of the city, and mostly ignored by guidebooks.

news2Photo Courtesy of Tenderloin Museum

4. About five blocks north, a store called Hero Shop aims to bring a Manhattanite level of fashion consciousness to San Francisco. We’d cry carpetbagger, except that owner (and longtime Vogue staffer) Emily Holt grew up in San Francisco, is carrying local designers—and is donating part of her proceeds to such local nonprofits as Glide Memorial, Raphael House, and the Larkin Street Youth Center. So we guess we’d better just shop instead.

dsc_0232Photo Courtesy of Hero Shop

5. For seven years, an alley formerly known as Cohen Place (look for the big red gate on the 500 block of Ellis Street) has reveled in a new identity: the Tenderloin National Forest, thanks to the Luggage Store (a Market Street art gallery that has absolutely no luggage for sale) and a small army of local volunteers who have planted trees, painted murals, and even built a small wood-burning oven for pizza parties.

7194932704_5df45cfe6a_oPhoto Courtesy of TNForest via Flickr

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