Every neighborhood has a nickname, a stuck assumption, a reputation of sorts. Noe Valley is often referred to as ‘Stroller Valley.’ Granted it is a great neighorhood for young families and has many stores that cater to this demographic. It also has a fantastic collection of boutiques and a trickling of gourmet stores. I would certainly traverse the city and ready myself to navigate strollers in order to visit MILL Mercantile, a light space filled with all of my favorite things. Bath and body lines include Santa Maria Novella, Rodin, Arquiste, LAFCO, and a whole corner I like to call the Aesop Apothecary. The clothing is a collection of California casual brands, the shoes as well (Birkenstock), and the kitchenware is for an Instagram worthy kitchen. I also love their curation of coffee table books and handmade notebooks. I would happily take one of everything.
Down the street, the PODOLLS is ‘ethical chic’ and has a similar aura to MILL Mercantile. Think light, pure, and California cool. The Podolls are a stylish San Francisco couple who make sustainable clothing for women. They also represent local jewelers and small artisan brands, such as a small Brooklyn perfumery and candlemaker. Folio Books is a fantastic find for bookstore lovers. It has a sizable selection of fiction and a dream cookbook wall, mostly made up of Bay area chefs because, let’s face it, the food in the Bay Area is simply outstanding.
As if Noe Valley weren’t pocket-size enough, a whole other piece of the neighborhood is hiding six blocks farther south. It is as if the San Francisco wind scattered them down to 30th, and the only worthwhile snippet between 24th and La Ciccia is the new Bom Dia Market. It is indeed exactly what it professes to be: a neighborhood corner market selling just a little bit of everything and an impressive collection of wine. I found my favorite cranberry walnut date bites made by Bacano Bakery, and I indulged in everyone’s favorite Goody Goodie chocolate chip cookie with chocolate wafers in the middle. It was divine, but rich, and I’m glad it’s all the way in far-flung Noe Valley and not in my own neighborhood. They have ready-made food items, an assortment of condiments, all of my favorite coffee brewers, organic cleaning products, and an adorable, petite produce display.
Farther afield, Curator is yet another light, airy boutique which feels like a bite-size version of MILL. It’s the perfect gift store or pick-me-up store, and afterwards, you can swing by one of the two Italian eateries on the same block, La Nebbia or La Ciccia. For the tiniest most far-flung piece of the neighborhood, the dining options are quite impressive. That’s two restaurants for one shop. And that, my friend, is the end of Noe Valley. Until the next gust of San Francisco wind…