Wednesday, August 3, 2011

San Francisco Bookstores — Christopher's Books, Potrero Hill, The Land That Tourists Forgot

This is the sixth in a series of short articles on independent San Francisco bookstores. While their numbers are dwindling, there are still many colorful, one-of-a-kind bookstores in various colorful, one-of-a-kind San Francisco neighborhoods.

Look down the hill from 18th, the neighborhood’s main street, and you’ll have a striking view of San Francisco’s skyline. It’s as if Potrero Hill isn’t in the city, but above it and that the “City by the Bay” is another place altogether. In a way it is. If you were a resident, you might want to leave the Hill from time to time. But you wouldn’t need to. The neighborhood is self-sustaining.

It’s also an unlikely place for tourists, which is a good thing only because many of the great places on Potrero are small, very small. It’s “supersizing” in reverse. You will not go to Baked for a warm welcome, but this tiny bakery delivers the goods. Try the Ricotta cake. Chez Maman may be one of the smallest restaurants in the city, but also one of the best — a glorious hamburger is just one reason to dine there.

Certainly, Christopher’s Books falls into this “good things come in a small packages” category. They have a carefully cultivated, high-quality selection of books, just right for a beautiful neighborhood that also has other great small places — a wine shop, coffee shops and more than their fair share of excellent restaurants, grocers and bakeries. It has a bar that looks like it just emerged from an old PI movie (with a second-story window that reads “Golden Gun Investigations”) and a great renovated public library with million dollar views.

Have a drink, have lunch, grab a dessert and buy a book.

1400 18th Street, (415) 255-8802,

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