THIS IS THE PLACE
To my mind it is one of the most beautiful spots in the city.
Especially after dark.
Hyde Street for one block south presents a lovely bistro-lined cave-tunnel between leafy trees, with a number of little eateries worth visiting -- Hyde Street Seafood House & Raw Bar, for instance: fresh oysters, clams, mussels, and fish en papillote -- ending at Jackson Street, where on one corner Sun Kwong (新光) Chinese Restaurant and Food To-go holds sway, diagonally opposite the bend in the cablecar line where U-Lee (有利飯店) has been serving contented customers for decades. Both eateries are good. Small, nothing fancy, but offering decent food well made, in an environment that will make you happy. Nice places, nice people.
I recommend both restaurants and hope that they endure.
They've been there a very long time already.
In this city, that means something.
In the evening, Hyde from Washington to Broadway, then up to Union, is shady, leafy, intimate. A beautiful place to wander around and make plans for fine dining. Zarzuela (tapas y paellas) at the corner of Union marks the end of the dinner-dream walk. The tourists riding the cablecar seldom get off here, as they are intent on 'going somewhere'. That being either the wharf or the turnaround at Powell and Market.
Hyde Street is not 'somewhere'.
It just is.
The locals know it, and if they do not live right nearby will take the effort to come. Food is a draw, strong coffee or a glass of wine too, but the magnet is mostly the pleasant calm leafiness of the neighborhood. Nob and Russian Hill are less pretentious here, slightly more out of the way despite being crossed by many transit lines, and the rest of San Francisco seems far distant. It isn't North Beach, where the loud Eurotrashers party all night, nor Polk or Union Street, filled with throngs of hormonally challenged twenty-somethings preening and rutting till closing time.
Merely a quiet tree-lined passageway among the dwellings.
Hyde and Pacific enrobed in drifting fog in Autumn, or drenched by late-night downpours during the rainy season, is otherworldly and peaceful.
You cannot be impatient at three o'clock in the morning, you took your own sweet time to get here, there is nothing else to do but drink it in.
And light up another cigarillo.
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