San Francisco has a vibrant, feisty art scene that isn't confined only to SFMOMA. Brave the urban-jungle downtown to see emerging artists and have the best cookies ever - for breakfast!
Hooker's Sweet Treats
This institution is famous for its sea-salted caramels, but once you walk in, everything is fair game. The array of cookies, cakes and sweets will make even the gluten-free brulee, and the friendly staff is always happy to suggest the best sweet treat for you. The coffee is also one of the best in town, so it's a win-win all over. Take something to go, as you'll crave this place the moment you leave.
The surprising location - the Tenderloin - is the home of White Walls, an ultra-urban art space that hosted in the past shows by Jonathan Darby and Yumiko Kayukawa. Exhibits change monthly, peppered by auctions, openings and cocktail parties and the art is never too snobbish for the everyday man. Make sure to check out the sister space,The Shooting Gallery, as well.
Not easy to find but well worth it, this small galley was established in 1974and specializes in contemporary photography. Director Heather Snider and galley manager Michael Thurin ae very up-to-date on the art world's latest movers and shakers, and the exhibitions are always provoking and powerful - for instance, here you can catch Jamie Warren's grotesque, colorful images of young Americans.
The Red Poppy Art House
Is it an art house? A performance venue? A bar? A bit of everything? At the Poppy, every visit is a mini-party, with surprising musical events, dancing, and of course - a healthy mix of contemporary and community art, from the results of family workshops to local emerging artists. Catch an intimate party and mingle with the artsy crowd.
At first sight, Yamo is a hole in the wall, sitting only 12 people around the wooden bar. But what's behind that bar makes all the difference – enter a bunch of Burmese grandmas yelling, serving and cooking – all with the same fierceness. This place is known for the super-spicy tea-leaf salad and the affordable, yummy noodle dishes, made according to the grandmas' secret recipes. Mildly greasy, full-on delicious.
Arc Studios & Gallery
Cozy and hidden out of sight, this small gallery provides a very unique San Francisco vibe, mixing the serious with the frivolous. Open only a few hours a day, the space includes an art gallery, two smaller sister galleries, an art education center, and ten newly renovated artist studios, where you can witness the process up close. Oh, and did we mention they currently host an exhibition dedicated to Tom Waits and his songs?
After years of showing art in San Francisco's coffee shops, the Lower Branch group finally got their own space - a small, "local" art venue in the Tenderloin. The first exhibiton is curious enough to elbow through the crowd - the gallery is showing the work of ten San Francisco artists and activists exploring the Real and the Ideal. Focused on the local art scene, this galley is both real and kind of ideal.
Chambers Eat + Drink
Dimly lit and always buzzing, this place is a destination for office rats and cool freelancers, no discrimination. The old-timey feel is intentional, but the food is fresh and the cocktails keep up with the "mixology" standard. Order chicken liver pate and "smoking pork belly", and celebrate he end of the day with "Rock'n'roll never ferrets", a killer house special drink.