Hayes Valley — From Under the Shadow

In the not too distant past, the intersection of Hayes and Octavia was darkened by the monstrosity that was the Central Freeway—a raised freeway that cut the Hayes Valley neighborhood in half, keeping its development at bay.  The section that extended past Fell, to Turk, was removed after the ’89 earthquake.  But the expanse up to Fell Street remained in use until 2001, when it was torn down and replaced by the much more attractive multi-way boulevard—Octavia.

Now, Hayes and Octavia is a bright, airy intersection in the heart of Hayes Valley.  Some friends and I took a stroll over to that neighborhood this past Saturday for lunch.  The original intent was to go to Suppenküche for wiener schnitzel and steins of beer, but they’re only open for brunch on Sundays.  Fortunate for us Hayes Street, the main artery of Hayes Valley, is now lined with many fine eateries, from crepes and fries at Frjtz to higher-end fare at Absinthe.  We ended up at Patxi’s.  Not a bad place to have to end up.

Patxi’s (pronounced pah-cheese) is a Chicago-style pizzeria near Hayes and Octavia.  They have a high-ceilinged dining room filled with the echoing voices of their patrons and the savory essence of pizza sauce and melting cheese.  I would recommend this place to anyone in the mood for a great Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  The crust was excellent—the perfect amount of flakiness and crispiness.  The toppings were perfectly balanced: not too much meat or too many veggies.  We ordered their classic which comes with sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, black olives—and had them add pepperoni.

Feeling sluggish from our full stomachs, we thought it would be a good idea to walk over to Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk on Linden Street, a little side street between Octavia and Gough streets, for a cup o’ java.

When we turned the corner, onto Octavia, I was immediately reminded of how amazing Hayes Valley is without the Central Freeway towering over it.  Groups of people played in the sunny park at the end of Octavia.  Bright patches of green grass.  Trees and flower beds lined the roadway.  A tall metal sculpture, Ecstasy, basked in the warm sun.  It is now such a treat to walk along Octavia Boulevard.

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