At the corner of Market and Castro streets, a lively intersection depending on when you happen to encounter it, there’s a shop selling one-of-a-kind San Francisco delicacies. Teeny-tiny bakery and pizza place Chadwick’s is the kind of business that can only come from San Francisco: overtly queer food, high-quality products, and a cast of characters as colorful as the city is gray. Importantly, San Franciscans in the know flock to the little shop of treats for its “fun buns” (in actuality, iced cinnamon buns) and “dough boys” (personal pizzas with focaccia crusts) amongst other singular offerings.
The “fun buns,” the signature item at the 2375 Market Street bakery, are sweet, yes, but not overly so. Michael Evans uses the tangzhong, or water roux, method for the cinnamon buns to give it a fluffier, softer texture and higher resistance to staling. Meanwhile, the healthy portion of frosting served on top adds a helpful tanginess to the treat. The chocolate variation is worth a try for its indulgent depth of brownie-like flavor. “It’s not over the top,” Aaron Van Arsdale, co-owner and general manager, says. “We wanted to find something different from what was in the neighborhood, something new.” For $8 one can nab a cinnamon bun and a coffee, though the Chris’ Coffee cold brew is worth a try, too: it’s a French roast from Oakland’s old-school roaster Peerless with house-made almond milk and honey.
The “dough boys,” however, are focaccia-style pizzas with rotating flavors including a vegetarian option and pepperoni; the crust here is the unique angle rather than any zany flavors. A calzone riff, also known as a “wick,” runs for $7 with options including olive, pepperoni, and fresh tomato. Recently, slices of focaccia are on deck, and customers can purchase a sheet of focaccia now, too. In the coming weeks, just in time for Hanukkah, the shop will roll out a “knotty babka,” with chocolate ganache and black sesame seeds.
Van Arsdale says the name of the business is itself the first stitch in a very San Francisco tapestry: Chadwick is the first name of Evans’ first friend in the Castro, now one of his best friends. Sadly, Chadwick is currently battling cancer; it was a no-brainer to pay honor to this integral part of the Castro for Evans. It should come as no surprise that the shop’s roots in the Castro are then quite serious to the staff at Chadwick’s. Van Arsdale himself spent two decades living just a few blocks away from the bakery. “I’m very familiar with the area,” Van Arsdale says. Evans has lived in San Francisco for some odd 25 years, and he’s been baking and cooking since he was about 12 years old. The owner now lives in Hayes Valley, but has been an active member of the Castro community for many years. He always wanted to open his own place, so when the space became available at the beginning of 2022, he moved fast. The recipes at Chadwick’s are all Evans’ that he’s developed over the years. “This story is all about Michael,” Van Arsdale says.
It really does feel like hanging out with friends to stop by Chadwick’s, a motley crew down to pitch in for the neighborhood they love. The shop just took part in the neighborhood trick-or-treating map, for instance. One of their staff, Isaac Rodriguez, is a cyclist, a beat poet, and a friend of the owners. Van Arsdale wasn’t even working in the industry before taking on this project. This business, almost one year old, comes at the right time: the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to allow new liquor licenses in the Castro for the first time since 1987. Van Arsdale is well aware of the initiative, saying the Castro could change a lot in the years to come. “It’s our mission to be a part of the community,” Van Arsdale says.
Chadwick’s is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.