Image by Valerie Stimac Lonely Planet
Grant Ave is Chinatown's economic heart, but its soul is Waverly Place, lined with historic clinker-brick buildings and flag-festooned temple balconies. Nineteenth-century race-based planning restrictions left Chinatown noplace to go but up – so family associations and temples were built atop barber shops, laundries and restaurants lining Waverly Place. Through World Wars and Prohibition gunfights, Waverly Place calmly stood its ground. Temple services have been held here since 1852 – even after San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and fire, when altars were still smoldering.
Readers will recognize this byway as the namesake of a lead character in Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club; diners may know it as the location of Michelin-starred Mister Jiu's, in a historic Chinatown clinker-brick banquet hall where lunar new year has been celebrated for 130 years.