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© Joseph Perez-Green
Smitten Ice Cream's new Hayes Valley home.
In San Francisco, unclaimed space never sits empty for long before fabulous food artisans move in. Since the city closed Hayes Valley’s Central Freeway off-ramp a few years back, it hasn’t been able to afford to develop the abandoned land—but now, it’s offering the space to creative people willing to accept a limited lease time before possible construction begins eventually. Hayes Valley Farm put down roots last year to explore sustainable urban garden strategies, and the supercool new Proxy project will infuse the funky neighborhood with pop-up cafés, art installations and retail shops. Ritual Coffee will soon begin serving seasonal espressos in one of the “pods”—repurposed metal shipping containers—along with newcomers like Smitten Ice Cream, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze flavors like Meyer Lemon Gingersnap and Brown Butter Candied Apple one amazing scoop at a time. Sadly, the rumors of a forthcoming Pizzeria Delfina pop-up are untrue—owners Craig and Anne Stoll say they’re just too busy opening up Locanda this weekend (so we’ll forgive them).