Cole Valley, San Francisco

Posted on
July 30, 2021

Cole Valley is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Inner Sunset, Haight Ashbury, Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights, Corona Heights, Clarendon Heights, and Forest Knolls. Cole Valley is a small neighborhood in San Francisco, California. It borders Golden Gate Park to the north, Haight-Ashbury to the northeast, The Castro to the east. and Twin Peaks to the south. Near Kezar Stadium, Cole Valley is the smallest neighborhood in the city.

Cole Valley grew up around the streetcar stop at the entrance to the Sunset Tunnel at the intersection of Carl and Cole Streets. That intersection is still the center of the neighborhood's small business district, and the N Judah light rail line still stops there.

Cole Valley was popular with dot-commers during the late 1990s dot-com bubble. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, is a former resident. The area is home to young professionals, some University of California, San Francisco residents, staff and neighborhood families since the early 1960s.

Despite its proximity to the Haight, anyone who has spent time in this small community knows Cole Valley has a distinct character all its own. Look for Cole Valley on a fancy map of San Francisco and there's about a 50 percent chance you'll see it there, but locals love their tiny neighborhood with a passion. Food and coffee are the specialties in Cole Valley. In the three-block commercial strip along Cole Street and part of Carl Street, there are more than a dozen restaurants and cafés, some of which draw visitors from around the Bay Area. Padrecito is considered one of the city's top dining spots, while Zazie is a magnet for locals on weekends for brunch. The Ice Cream Bar serves up Instagram-worthy concoctions in a fun, old-timey atmosphere, while Luke's Local features prepared food specialties and fresh produce.

For historians and old-timers, traces of Cole Valley's past are still visible. Above the Crepes on Cole awning, along the Carl Street side, remains the old sign for the Other Café, a comedy spot where Robin Williams and Dana Carvey performed before they hit the big time. Even more historic are the photos in the Kezar Bar and Restaurant dating from the early 1900s, when the region was home to dairy farms.

Cole Valley may not be one of the city's most bustling tourist destinations, but it makes for a relaxing respite from the Haight, and there are enough attractions for a day's outing.

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