• Little Saigon

    Little Saigon and Tendernob

    Little Saigon and the Tendernob are two Tenderloin neighborhoods that are home to large immigrant populations and some of the best food in the city. Join us as we take you on the only food tour of this district and explore the flavors of Asia, the Middle East, and beyond!
  • The Mission

    The Mission District

    San Francisco's 1st neighborhood, The Mission District is still the heart & soul of this vibrant city. This area is so rich in culture, that we have 4 Mission food tours & 2 neighborhood walks.
  • North Beach

    North Beach

    North Beach is that rare thing -- a neighborhood that manages to be a perennial hit with tourists, and also to remain beloved by San Franciscans. It's San Francisco's Little Italy and the home of the beatniks.
  • Scenic Running

    Scenic Running

    Just a short run from the urban landscape of San Francisco's busy city streets you will find numerous trails and parks offering phenomenal views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the City Skyline and other gems.
  • Chinatown


    Established in the 1840s, San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Our food and walking tours are 2nd to none.
  • Parrots!


    Wild Parrots in San Francisco? Yes there are officially at least two flocks of wild Parrots here. These Parrots have evolved into a brand new species of parrot indigenous to San Francisco.

Hidden Gems of San Francisco: Uptown Tenderloin Architecture

Hidden Gems of San Francisco


By Dan Chew

Usually when walking through the Tenderloin, most folks are either clutching their purses and wallets tightly while sidestepping the homeless, or making a beeline for the latest foodie discovery. Looking at your surroundings is a wise self-preservation technique in what has been referred to as “the worst neighborhood in the city.” Originally called St. Ann’s Valley, this area was completely destroyed during the 1906 earthquake. The neighborhood was rebuilt with more density, and more concrete. Prior to 1906 there were many single family homes with a smattering of hotels and apartment buildings, after 1906, building codes in this part of the city required safer and more fireproof structures. Wood was out and concrete was in.

Along with the higher density and bigger buildings which now had to compete for more tenants, came a smorgasbord of architectural styles, instead of a Victorian neighborhood, something new was born out of the ashes. The name at that time was the “Uptown Tenderloin.”

Along with the higher density and bigger buildings which now had to compete for more tenants, came a smorgasbord of architectural styles, instead of a Victorian neighborhood, something new was born out of the ashes. The name at that time was the “Uptown Tenderloin.”

Alcazar Theater, 650 Geary Street

Next time you happen to be in the neighborhood, take note of some of the spectacular architecture in this historic neighborhood. Some of the city’s most beautiful buildings (and some of the city’s tastiest bites) can be found tucked in among the many nondescript apartment buildings and neighborhood liquor stores.

Admiral Hotel
Admiral Hotel, 608 O’Farrell St

A leisurely 45 minute stroll down just two streets reveals some true architectural gems “hidden” in plain sight. Starting at Van Ness and Geary, head east a few blocks opposite the one-way traffic on the south side of Geary, and just past Larkin Street, look across Geary, and gaze at the spectacular Alhambra Apartments (860 Geary Street). Built in 1913 in the Moorish style by native SF architect James Francis Dunn. Born and raised in a working-class, largely Irish, South of Market neighborhood by a widowed mother, Dunn was self-taught as an architect — but remarkably well taught. His buildings can be found all around the city. This apartment building is a beautiful example of some of his best work. The romantic penthouse and dome of the Alhambra are where the legendary Rudolph Valentino reputedly entertained his paramours.

Alhambra Apartments
Alhambra Apartments, 860 Geary Street

Continue down Geary past Leavenworth and look across the street at the exotic Alcazar Theatre (650 Geary Street). This Moorish/Byzantine masterpiece was originally built as a Shriner’s temple in 1917 by architect T.Patterson Ross.

Castle Apartments
Castle Apartments, [Maybeck] 825 Geary Street

Into Little Saigon now but still on Geary Street, 825 to be exact, is the Castle Apartments, 36 units and designed by the famous Bernard Maybeck himself and finished in 1928 this building is currently for sale for a mere $10 million dollars. On our weekly Little Saigon and Tendernob Food Tours we traverse this neighborhood and eat some of the most exciting food in the city. Besides the fact that traveling in a group is safer and more fun than venturing into the Tenderloin without guidance. We know of eateries here that will change your opinion of this part of the city forever more. Some of the places here are amazingly superb, join us!

Explore San Francisco is a locally owned co-op of guides who help us explore and discover the City’s “hidden gems”. For more information on touring SF, check out their website at ExploreSanFrancisco.biz or call them at 415.793.1104v

February 2014

Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco. Alcazar Theatre

English: Palace of Fine Arts (architect Bernar... Also by Bernard Maybeck: Palace of Fine Arts

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