The weather forecast was rain yesterday, rain today, rain tomorrow. If we were to get a walk in, the prudent thing would be to go somewhere it was possible to duck under cover if the rain became too heavy. Upper Piedmont Avenue, with its shops and cafes, fit the bill.
Start at Monte Vista Avenue, near Glen Echo Park. Bella Ceramica, on the corner, features pottery from Tuscany in brilliant, intricately painted patterns. It’s just one example of the one-of-a-kind gift shops and specialty stores along the charming, pedestrian-friendly street.
Are you crafty? A little uphill from Monte Vista is Piedmont Fabric, with its interesting and ever-changing selection of printed cotton and silk. A few blocks farther, at Sew Images, you can buy the machine and take the lessons to learn how to stitch it up. More of a knitter? Piedmont Yarn and Apparel can set you up. If you prefer your crafts ready-made, try Folks’ Art.
If it’s food that tempts you, Bar Cesar has tapas and cocktails. Ninna blends European and Asian flavors. Lo Coco’s has Sicilian style pizza and Messob serves Ethiopian. You can shop for bread at La Farine or wine at Vino. And if it’s dessert you’re after, have a scoop of ice cream at Fenton’s.
Piedmont Avenue is also rich in bookstores (three, plus a comic book store), antique stores and clothing stores. If you plan to observe “Plaid Friday” by shopping at small, independent stores, this would be a good place to start.
Like the shops, the buildings on upper Piedmont Avenue are an eclectic mix. Deco-era tile fronts stand next to utilitarian mid-century storefronts and Victorians. If you tire of the commercial stretch, many of the side streets are pleasant, lined with neat bungalows. And if you want to sit a while and watch an independent film, the Piedmont Theatre has three screens.
Getting there: Parking is tight on Piedmont Avenue, but the area is served by buses.
Cool stuff in the neighborhood: Besides everything listed here, Mountain View Cemetery is at the upper end of Piedmont Avenue.
More information: From the San Francisco Chronicle’s neighborhood pages.