The sleek facade of glass, concrete, and steel that occupies a corner in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood embodies one of the city’s best characteristics: the seamless blend of old and new. As the first stand-alone structure in the country dedicated entirely to jazz, the SFJAZZ Center simultaneously celebrates San Francisco’s rich jazz history—famed jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton once played in the Barbary Coast, while Miles Davis frequented the long-shuttered Black Hawk in the Tenderloin—and trumpets its future.
Get tickets to a show in the center’s performance hall, which was designed to marry the acoustics of a music hall with the intimacy of a club. Make sure you book dinner at the in-house restaurant and café, South, where local restaurateur Charles Phan riffs on southern dishes like jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and hush puppy fritters. Upstairs, murals painted by artists Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet depict the history of jazz on ceramic tiles.
On the second Thursday of every month, drop in for the center’s Hotplate series in the Joe Henderson Lab. These smaller, informal concerts bring together local musicians who play re-envisioned versions of recordings by jazz greats. Cocktails are encouraged.