Exploring Dogpatch, San Francisco's Newest Indie Neighborhood

Dogpatch is proof that good things come in small packages. The charming microhood was largely industrial for years, but has become a budding enclave of artisans and craftsmen. It maintains a sleepy, untouched vibe on the surface, with palpitating creativity at the core.
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Welcome to the Dogpatch. Photo: Ruby Nichols

Style is a way of life for writer and blogger Ruby Nichols, who spends her time sourcing the best in fashion, design, and travel for Almanac of Style. And, on lucky occasion, for Fathom! This time, she ventures to the burgeoning artist community of Dogpatch in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO – Dogpatch is proof that good things come in small packages. The charming microhood was largely industrial for years, but has become a budding enclave of artisans and craftsmen. The area maintains a sleepy, untouched vibe on the surface — with palpitating creativity at the core.

The historic district is home to some of the city's oldest structures and Victorian cottages. Pier 70 is an existing shipyard and industrial site that supported both World Wars and manufactured supplies for the Gold Rush and Transcontinental Railway. The Noonan Building at Pier 70 is now studio space.

The area is also becoming the epicenter of micro-manufacturing, with the American Industrial Center (once the old American Can Factory) divided into work spaces that act as incubators for makers of all kinds, from designers and engineers to chefs, artists, and manufacturers.

The new indie work space in the old American Can factory. Photo: Ruby Nichols

The Yellow Building, a converted horse stable (circa 1841). Photo: Ruby Nichols

In just two years, DODOcase has built an avid fan base for their stylish, handcrafted tablet and laptop accessories. All products are manufactured in-house at The Nest inside the historic American Industrial Center, which also houses a book bindery and wood shop.

At the DODOCase offices. Photo: courtesy of DODOCase

Some of the goods. Photo: courtesy of DODOCase

Piccino Coffee Bar, is a popular morning pit stop for locals who order takeout from Piccino Cafe next door and have it slid through the peek-a-boo window. You can snag a seat by the open kitchen to watch the chefs make the magic happen.

A perfect day in the hood involves dinner at Serpentine, located in the 100-year-old boiler room of the old American Can Factory. Brunch is also stellar, since the menu is regularly tweaked based on what's in season. Save room for the killer Bananas Foster ice cream sandwich for dessert.

The scene at Piccino. Photo: Ruby Nichols

Rickshaw Bags is a cheerful shop in the heart of Dogpatch that's bursting at the seams with passion. Manufacturing takes place in-house, which means after you design a custom bag, you can shake the hands of folks who made it.

Mark Dwight, the founder of Rickshaw Bags, is fueled by the concept of local manufacturing, and inspired by urban cycling. The name is derived from three Japanese characters meaning "human powered vehicle" -- perfect for a company whose ethos is driven by the strength of the human spirit.

Rickshaw's colorful merch and human-powered vehicles. Photo: Ruby Nichols

Mark clued me in to Little Nib, one of his favorite spots in Dogpatch for wine, beer, and whiskey/chocolate pairings by master chocolatier Michael Rechiutti. Little Nib's spin-off, Chocolate Lab, is a cafe with charcuterie, tartines, wine, cocktails, and a long list of options for your sweet tooth.

Modern Appealing Clothing (MAC) has been a fixture for stylish San Franciscans for quite some time. Similar to the original Hayes Valley location, the Dogpatch outpost offers an eclectic selection of heavy hitters like Comme des Garcons and Dries Van Noten, plus elusive Japanese and Belgian brands as well as local up-and-comers.

Modern Appealing Clothing. Photo: Ruby Nichols

Ben Ospital is part of the family that opened the store 32 years ago and is basically a local celebrity. On what inspired the new location in Dogpatch, he says, "Dogpatch is full of makers, and it's about following our clientele. The neighborhood is full of start-ups, designers, and artists ... dreamers, really. There's such a huge food culture here, so our focus includes objects for hearth and home."

According to Ben, the best-kept secret in Dogpatch is Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous ice cream shop. Owned by an adorable husband and wife team, the old-school style parlor serves artisanal ice cream in sweet and savory flavors, like the White Rabbit (condensed milk + white chocolate) and Salted Mango. Go get some.

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous

Photo credit: Scott R. Kline

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