It isn’t often you witness a neighborhood evolve before your eyes without the benefit of a cataclysm to put it into motion. Tornadoes, earthquakes or floods change the landscape so rapidly that evolution is thrust upon the residents, be they ready or not. But gentrification is the change agent on Valencia Street.
I walked most of the way home today, inspired by the warm weather and the broadcast of a SF Giants game at 4 PM. There is something very satisfying about strolling through a National League city listening to the local team on the radio. People can usually tell one’s spasmodic fist pump is a response to a base hit with runners in scoring position, as opposed to the unpredictable muscle twitches of a street person. And the most savvy are bold enough to ask the score. I’ve seen street people positioned outside bars announce the score like town criers, hoping perhaps to score a few coins.
I digress. Walking down Valencia, I was amazed at the amount of new construction in the form of restaurants. I passed no less than five separate spaces underway, in stages from open-stud walls to one with plastic-wrapped chairs stacked inside a finished interior. One or two looked like they opened very recently. There was a new chocolatier, set to open “soon” promising all goods would be handmade on premises. Another place made me retrace my steps to read its menu, which proclaimed all the food served was locally sourced.
Since it was after five all the old standards were already open: Pauline’s, which makes sublime pizza; Range, which is good but still too new and too loud; Luna Park, which looks expensive and isn’t; Frjtz, which looks inexpensive and is; and Tacolicious, which is the best blend of food, drink, art and people-watching I have ever seen in a place that serves tacos. I stopped in at the bakery Arizmendi for a pecan roll to have tomorrow morning. Almost all the eateries had the walls open and tables set out; the evening was going to be lively and fine.
Valencia street is where the technerds and hipsters come to eat. Many of them live on the street, too. The gentrification of Valencia street has been hastened by developments like 299 Valencia which is actually just what the area needs but it’s not politically correct to say so. The reality is that change has improved the area in many ways, and on Valencia much of the old is still there.
Today’s interesting product link is a camera.