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South Of Market - SOMA

South of Market is a huge district, sprawling from the Embarcadero to Eleventh Street, between Market and Townsend. The neighborhood is a patchwork of warehouses, swanky nightspots, residential hotels, art spaces, loft apartments, furniture showrooms and the tenacious Internet companies that survived the tech market collapse. Although a lot of building has gone on in recent years, it is still not densely developed. You can walk several desolate blocks before suddenly finding a hopping restaurant.

Most of the action can be found in three general areas: by South Park and the Giants ballpark, around the SF MOMA and Yerba Buena gardens, and over by Folsom and Eleventh Street. SoMa, as it's known, sounds a little like a SoHo wannabe, and it does have a strong downtown vibe. However, the name has its roots in the old nickname "South of the Slot," referring to its position on the "wrong side" of the Market Street cable car track when it was an industrial district of factories and Gold Rush immigrant workers.

These days the industry most associated with South of Market has to do with that other Gold Rush: the dot com boom. Once buzzing with purple-haired programmers and hobnobbing young executives, South Park is noticeably more subdued since the Internet companies started closing shop, and probably all the more pleasant for it. The grassy square is a nice place to walk your dog or eat a sandwich, and is bordered by several good shops and restaurants. In the summer the area gets more foot traffic as packs of Giants fans head for the ballpark. A handful of new restaurants have also opened to serve this crowd.