Alleys are a major part of the character of San Francisco, and many parts of the city are trying to embrace these unique aspects of the urban makeup.
"Built in haste after the discovery of California gold in 1848 and rebuilt in a bigger hurry after the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco is riven with all manner of concrete crannies, quaint cobblestone back ways and remote waterfront hide-outs like the Ramp, a sunset margarita spot whose front deck literally drops into the bay. In the tradition of a city whose literary legacy includes both the Beats and Sam Spade, those out-of-the-way addresses also include hipster bars and Zagat-rated speakeasies like Bix, an alley-front favorite whose Jazz Age ethos includes tuxedo jackets and torch songs."
"Indeed, unlike many cities that have built over or ignored their old service streets, San Francisco has embraced them, with tourist-friendly spots like Belden Lane downtown, which is home to a row of restaurants specializing in everything from Spanish food (B44) to vodka (Voda). Cast an eye down pretty much any alley near the Union Square shopping district and you'll find a different national cuisine, including French (Café Claude, Anjou), bar-top bar food (Azul), Vietnamese (Le Colonial) or Irish (the Irish Bank), though much of the "eating" there seems to be the liquid variety."