Over the past decade, the gayborhood has morphed into what’s often termed a “post-gay” neighborhood. At many LGBT-owned businesses, you’re apt to bump into plenty of straight folks as well — and vice versa. And it’s a good bet that the formerly explicitly gay neighborhoods will continue to become steadily more diverse — including the influx of the dreaded “hipster”. But if you can get beyond the sometimes precious conceits of these trendy urban districts, you’ll discover some of the best businesses and restaurants in the country.
Every day for the next two weeks, we’ll be taking a look at a dozen of the most dynamic and interesting post-gay neighborhoods in the United States and Canada. These aren’t necessarily the biggest or the most popular — just a good sampling of especially notable ones.
To see all the articles in this series, click here.
Adjacent to arguably the world’s most recognizable gay ghetto, the Castro, the significantly larger Mission District has a long and fascinating history. It’s named for the oldest extant building in the city, Mission San Francisco de Asis, and has been a center of the city’s Mexican-American population for eons. By the ‘60s it had become a hub of countercultural activists, feminists, and lesbians, and today—although very much gentrified and increasingly expensive—it’s a diverse community known for some of the hippest coffeehouses, indie retail, and creative restaurants in the city.
There are still a couple of queer hangouts in these parts, including El Rio and Truck, but the venerable Lexington Club lesbian bar and Latin-flavored Esta Noche have both recently closed. And the gay nightlife of the Castro on one side and lower SoMa (South of Market) on the other, are within walking distance.
The best strip in the Mission for shopping and dining is Valencia Street from Duboce Avenue to 24th Street, but parallel Mission and Guerrero streets are also notable, as are intersecting 16th, 18th, and 24th streets. Ritual Coffee Roasters and Four Barrel Coffee are two of the favorite addresses of java aficionados. Delfina turns out unerringly delicious pizza and Italian fare, and you’ll find amazingly good ice cream across the street at Bi-Rite—also delightful for a sweet treat is the artisan chocolatier Dandelion.
This article is one in a series about post-gayborhoods.
(Featured image via Jeff Few/Flickr)