The Fillmore stands near the confluence of three neighborhoods. Here's what to visit in each.
For a jazzier scene in a throwback setting far smaller than the Fillmore, step across Geary Boulevard to the Boom Boom Room at 1601 Fillmore St. Once known for its association with John Lee Hooker, the Boom Boom Room is a long, narrow lounge (no food) with a round booth reserved in case Hooker, who died in 2001, should return.
These days, owner Zander Andreas books "blues, boogie, soul, groove and funk," usually with a cover charge of $7-$15. I caught a rollicking, organ-driven jazz-funk show by the Wil Blades Starting 5.
Just north of Geary Boulevard, a compact, reborn Japantown includes the Japan Center mall, several ramen and sushi spots, the graceful Peace Pagoda and the stylish Kabuki and Kimpton Buchanan hotels.
Head north on Fillmore Street from the auditorium and within a few blocks you'll notice the shops getting fancier, the prices getting higher.
This is Pacific Heights. If you keep climbing to Broadway, you'll be able to see San Francisco Bay from the top of the hill.
Along the way you'll pass dozens of boutiques and restaurants, including the Grove at 2016 Fillmore (where I had two hearty breakfasts); Jane at 2123 Fillmore (where I waited in a close-quarters line for a good lunch); and Chouquet's, 2500 Washington St. at Fillmore (where I enjoyed a better lunch, smoked trout salad, at a sidewalk table).