Moving out of San Francisco is the new moving to San Francisco. Thanks to skyrocketing rents, exorbitant cost of living and all of your favorite clubs being torn down to build big-box luxury McCondos, you may feel that this is no longer the San Francisco you thought you were moving to. But the San Francisco you thought you were moving to is still alive and well -- it just had to move out of San Francisco, because it got owner move-in evicted so its old studio could be converted into three different Airbnbs.
San Franciscans have been moving out of the city for so long that the greater Bay Area is now packed with outposts of San Francisco expats. The spirit of the city has taken residence in the East Bay, the Peninsula, and beyond in a collection of up-and-coming Bay Area neighborhoods. If you’ve loved and/or left any of these San Francisco neighborhoods, these are their equivalent, doppelganger Bay Area neighborhoods where you can also lose your heart.
If you love Bernal Heights, move to the San Mateo
The provincial cuteness, fabulous views, and ‘Hey, look at me, I live in the Bay Area and I actually have a yard!’ novelty of Bernal Heights is more affordably available to all in the Peninsula’s squee suburb of San Mateo. You can unleash the dog-friendly possibilities at expansive outdoor parks like the coastal Coyote Point Recreation Area, Laurelwood Park, and the kids’ train-equipped Central Park. And astonishing, Bernal-caliber views are available on the daily for those who are willing to walk up and down outrageously steep hills.
If you love Chinatown, move to Chinatown (in Oakland)
The most obvious equivalence of a San Francisco district to another Bay Area neighborhood is Chinatown, and you’ll find Chinatowns in both SF and Oakland. But Oakland’s Chinatown is more of a true Chinatown than a tourist trap, and has culinary local legends like the dumplings of Shan Dong, the celebrated jook (rice porridge) of Gum Kuo, and the famed stinky tofu of Spices 3. And to further establish Oakland Chinatown’s bona fides, Bruce Lee established his first martial studio there and it is the birthplace of famed Chinese-American author Amy Tan.
If you love The Castro, move to Lake Merritt
The East Bay does have a designated “gayborhood” a la The Castro, but Oakland has become a mecca-like melting pot for the LGBT community. Oakland has more lesbian couples per capita than any other city in California according to the 2010 census, and Telegraph Ave's White Horse Inn claims to be the oldest operating gay bar in the US (though several American bars make this claim). But if we had to pick one Oakland neighborhood as the height of East Bay gay, we’d pick Lake Merritt, which has a solid selection of gay bars, a gay retirement community, and plenty of paved lakeside trails for a jog-slash-cruise.
If you love Dogpatch, move to the Gourmet Ghetto
Residents of San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood are accustomed to the finer Bay Area things like iconic restaurants (The Ramp), groundbreaking brewpubs (Magnolia Brewing Company) and a neighborhood nickname that’s as catchy as they come. You’ll find all this and more in North Berkeley’s paradigm-establishing Gourmet Ghetto, birthplace to legendary Bay Area institutions like Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, the original specialty coffee stop Peet’s Coffee, and northern California’s oldest food collective the Cheese Board Collective. And you don’t even have to give up your indoor rock climbing privileges when you move away from Dogpatch Boulders, because the rock climbing operation Berkeley Ironworks is just a quick trip away in South Berkeley.
If you love Hayes Valley, move to Piedmont Avenue
Much like Hayes Valley, Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue neighborhood takes its name from its thoroughfare main drag street. And in both cases, that street is a quaint but bustling retail village that never fails to elicit a gasp of “Very nice!” from your visiting parents. Both Hayes Valley and Piedmont Avenue shun national chain stores in favor of local favorites that have developed devoted followings, like Fentons Creamery (recreated in CGI in the Pixar movie Up), outdoor hot-tub-with-a-view hotspot Piedmont Springs, and Michelin-starred Commis -- the only East Bay restaurant with two Michelin stars.
If you love Haight-Ashbury, move to Berkeley
It’s more than just flower power that makes Berkeley the East Bay’s Haight-Ashbury. Berkeley’s college-town vibe maintains the anti-establishment chic even during tech boom bubbles, Berkeley’s politics are light-years beyond left-wing, and Berkeley is still a Bohemian paradise of book shops, record stores, and cafes. Telegraph Ave will serve as your new Haight St, People’s Park will serve as your new Golden Gate Park, and legendary live music venues like 924 Gilman, the Starry Plough, and Freight & Salvage keep the counterculture scene alive and rocking.
If you love The Marina, move to Redwood City
Marina residents may have just spit their vanilla soy latte cappuccinos at their computer screens for having been compared to the once-sleepy hamlet with the “Climate Best by Government Test” motto. But when people are complaining about the “Manhattanization” of a town, Marina residents know that’s the ideal time to move in. Top-tier tech firms like Google and Box are snapping up Redwood City property like it's pre-IPO stock offerings, and restaurants like Latin seafood fusion concept La Viga, wood-fired pizza joint Vesta, and gourmet comfort food phenom the Patty Shack all made our Peninsula’s Best Restaurants list.
If you love The Mission, move to Temescal
Both the Mission District and Oakland’s Temescal District have been hipster neighborhoods since back way when “hipster” still referred to a hitchhiker with a fondness for jazz music. Temescal has long been a multicultural mashup of African, Korean, and LGBT subcultures, and its famed points in interest include the 32-beers-on-tap Hog’s Apothecary and the drive-thru mac-&-cheese joint Homeroom. And its Temescal Alley Barbershop has remained the Bay Area’s cult favorite barbershop for decades, if you’re so old-school you would go to something called a “barbershop”.
If you love The Richmond, move to Half Moon Bay
Do you like fog? Your time living in the Richmond may have slowly weaned you off any tolerance to organic sunshine, and Half Moon Bay might as well be called “Full Fog Bay.” A move from the Richmond means letting go of your old standbys Burma Superstar and the oodles of sushi places you frequent, but it’s a step up in the seafood department with Bay Area icons like Sam’s Chowder House, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, and that extremely large and cold ocean you so love living next to.
If you love SoMA, move to Jack London Square
In the language of realtors, Jack London Square is what you say instead of “West Oakland.” The Jack London Square-West Oakland area has that special ‘best of times, worst of times’ combination of scuzz and luxury that you’ve grown accustomed to in South of Market. From the fine-dining flair of Jack London Square’s Kincaid’s and Yoshi’s Oakland to the Stalingrad chic of sensationally seedy Heinold’s First and Last Chance and the 880 overpass, Jack London Square blends the opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum just like SoMa has conditioned you to love.
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1. Shandong Restaurant328 10th St #101, Oakland
2. Gum Kuo Restaurant388 9th St #182, Oakland
3. Spices 3 Restaurants369 12th St, Oakland
4. White Horse Bar6551 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
5. The Ramp855 Terry Francois St, San Francisco
6. Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing2505 3rd St, San Francisco
7. Chez Panisse1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
8. Peet's Coffee & Tea2124 Vine St, Berkeley
9. Cheese Board Pizza1504 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
10. Commis3859 Piedmont Ave, Oakland
11. La Viga1772 Broadway St, Redwood City
12. Vesta2022 Broadway St, Redwood City
13. The Patty Shack909 Main St, Redwood City
14. The Hog's Apothecary375 40th Street, Oakland
15. Homeroom400 40th St, Oakland
16. Burma Superstar309 Clement St, San Francisco
17. Sam's Chowder House4210 North Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay
18. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company390 Capistrano Rd., Half Moon Bay
The soft and juicy dumplings at the always-crowded Shandong Restaurant are the stuff of East Bay legend. Packed with savory flavors from components like tender beef and crisp cabbage, the dumplings are handmade with machine-like speed and served to your table with the same velocity, so they're as fresh as humanly possible. You'd be wise to order spicy beef chow mein and the sesame paste noodles too, just be sure to spend the extra buck to have them prepared with the house's hand-pulled noodles.
Nestled into the Pacific Renaissance Plaza (the shopping mall at the center of Oakland's Chinatown), this beloved counter-serve is immediately recognizable by the succulent meats hanging in its window, attracting long lines of locals for authentic Cantonese BBQ, jook, and congee. As cheap and comforting as it gets in Chinatown, Gum Kuo's fan-favorite jook (rice porridge) is ideal for a cool and foggy day, particularly the salted pork or preserved duck egg. As for those meats in the window, they aren't just for show: pair your hearty porridge with the incredibly moist BBQ roast pork and you'll understand why the owners of this tiny Honk Kong-inspired joint display them proudly.
This hole in the wall in Oakland's Chinatown specializes in seriously spicy Szechuan fare. Expect chili oil, chili peppers, and curry on the meat-centric, family-style menu. The hot pots are definitely a standout, especially the "Murder Style Gangsta Casserole" but vegetarian plates are equally piquant -- the vegetarian casserole isn't described as "Numbing" for no reason.
Though many bars across the country stake the same claim, White Horse Bar on Telegraph Avenue is the self-dubbed oldest continuously operating gay and lesbian bar in the country. Since 1933, it's been a beacon of hope and community for LGBT locals, offering them not only a safe and welcoming space, but also a damn good time: you'll find karaoke nights, drag shows, and DJ dance parties all on the calendar here. Plus, you can sip classic cocktails that are as cheap and reliable as you'd expect from your friendly neighborhood watering hole.
Hanging out in a shipyard while drinking sounds like a potentially dangerous combination, but at The Ramp, it’s nothing but a good idea. Open for brunch, lunch, and evening appetizers (the menus are American and seafood-centric), this popular waterfront hole-in-the-wall is situated directly next to the San Francisco shipyard in Dogpatch, meaning the views of tankers are exceptional -- and so is the brunch lineup, particularly the top-notch Bloody Marys and the juicy Angus beef burgers on locally baked buns. Not to mention, if you stick around long enough (and down enough drinks), there's live Latin music and outdoor dancing later in the day.
The folks behind Magnolia Brewing Company expanded their beloved operation with this hip warehouse-style brewpub in Dogpatch (exposed pipe and reclaimed wood abound), which not only boasts a huge, on-site brewing system that can produce up to 30 barrels, but also -- across the room -- smoked-in-house BBQ offerings including sausage, brisket, and Wagyu beef ribs. There's even a full-of-surprises cocktail program that slings exceptional whiskey concoctions like the Dutchman's Flat with rye, ginger, honey, lemon, toasted Nori, and beef bouillon (didn't see that one coming, did you?).
Open since 1971, Alice Waters' now iconic Chez Panisse first put terms like "California cuisine" and "slow food" on the map by introducing Bay Area diners to seasonal, produce-heavy small plates. Set in a bungalow-like space, the two-level restaurant includes a downstairs, reservation-only dining room that serves a three-to-four course dinner Monday-Saturday. Upstairs, the Café offers a more casual, à la carte alternative available for both lunch and dinner. Both menus change every day, but anything you order is signature Alice Waters.
Before outposts starting popping up across the country, Peet's began as a revolutionary coffee experience right here, on the corner of Vine and Walnut in North Berkeley, where Holland native Alfred Peet impressed locals and helped change the American coffee game with his rich and complex small-batch brews. Situated in the Gourmet Ghetto area, the original Peet's is cozy, wood-laden, and full of vintage coffee makers and canisters, plus the diverse teas, scrumptious treats, and high-quality beans -- from pungent Ethiopian to lush Arabic mocha -- you've come to expect from the popular chain.
The culinary offshoot of the worker-owned Cheese Board Collective, this three-in-one pizzeria, bakery, and cheese counter has been melting Berkeley tastebuds since 1985. There's only type of veggie pizza (never meat) and one type of salad per day, and each is available until they sell out. The Cheese Board is well-known to have some of the best pizza around, so there's usually a wait (especially at peak lunch and dinner hours), but live music from local artists keeps you entertained. If you don't like the element of surprise, the website lists the pizzas for the week ahead, but truth be told, they're all insanely good.
This Oakland eatery is the only fine dining spot in the East Bay to boast a Michelin star (let alone the two that it has). Chef James Syhabout helped open Coi with Daniel Patterson and opened Hawker Fare, and you’ll see those Asian influences come through in dishes like Dungeness crab with coral and dried pickled celeriac or a simple radish with charred mustard broth and speck ham. The eight-course tasting menu is $125, while the pairing menu will cost you an extra $75.
Manuel Martinez’s simple yet expert Latin restaurant, La Viga, helped put Redwood City on the culinary map in 2012, influencing countless other chefs to migrate to the Peninsula and shape it into a dining destination. Mexico City’s fish market is the inspiration for the name and the strong roster of seafood dishes, like coconut prawns and seafood paella. The menu's must-try dish, though, is the ceviche, particularly the sampler trio featuring shrimp, mahi mahi, and red snapper, which lets you taste as much fish as possible -- and gets you off the hook from settling on just one.
While this bright and chic pizzeria in Downtown Redwood City has become a packed local favorite for dinner, it still saves a good number of spots for walk-ins, meaning you just might get your hands on its incredible wood-fired pizza without a reservation. The topping combinations are creative yet approachable, like sausage & honey or tart pear & burrata. Don't skip out on the small plates, which somehow rival the crusty pies (that's saying a lot), including the practically mandatory mushroom toast and the earthy cauliflower dish with toasted almonds, currants, serrano chili, honey, and breadcrumbs.
Offering hefty and creative burgers inside a sleek space adorned with vintage athletic memorabilia, The Patty Shack is a satisfying and sporty respite from the abundance of taquerias in Redwood City. Come for one of the inventive burgers (e.g. The Midnight with a fried egg, bacon, and Cheddar) and stay for one of the nearly 20 local and domestic craft beers on tap. OK, you're also staying for the mac & cheese grilled cheese while you watch one of the giant flat-screens. OK, honestly, you're never leaving because there's a Cap'n Crunch milkshake.
The Hog's Apothecary in Oakland's Jewel Box area takes a modern approach to the beer hall concept, giving it an upscale twist with an expertly curated, sometimes-obscure lineup of local craft beer and gourmet bar snacks. With 33 rotating taps, you have your work cut out for you, but ordering one of the nightly flights is a sure-fire route to discovering your new favorite brew. Though the beer roster certainly takes center stage, the food is in no way an understudy, which you'll realize as soon upon biting into the pork belly and sauerkraut corndog. The stripped-down, industrial-style interior with communal tables provides a chic finishing touch.
Dedicated to perfecting one of man's greatest foodstuffs, Homeroom is a mac & cheese joint decked out with wooden tables built from salvaged Sequoia High football bleachers and a chalkboard map of California. The kitchen rethinks the classic after-school dish with gourmet variations like Dungeness crab mac and Mac the Goat, which plays host to chèvre and scallions, and continues the trip down memory lane with comforting desserts like oversized homemade Oreos and decadent fudge brownies.
This buzzy Richmond restaurant more than lives up to its name: It's become a superstar in its own right for exceptional Burmese cuisine that has guests braving long lines for lunch and dinner daily. A meal at Burma Superstar begins with the tea leaf salad, made with fried yellow beans, garlic, sesame seeds, tomatoes, and dried shrimp and folded into a romaine lettuce base table-side. Another hit is the samusa soup, a soothing dish that symbolizes the influence of China, Thailand, Laos, and India in Burmese cuisine. The vegetarian soup combines lentils, falafel, cabbage, and onions with potato-filled samusas in a fragrant broth. There's plenty of heat on the menu too, as seen in stir-fried lamb with dried and fresh chiles, and wok-tossed shrimp garlic and jalapenos.
No trip to Half Moon Bay is complete without hitting up this waterfront gem, which sports an outdoor area complete with fire pits and Adirondack chairs, plus Christmas lights adorning a beach bar patio. Though the stunning ocean views will remind you that you are, in fact, in California, the nautical decor and New England-inspired menu will transport you to the East Coast. Prepare to feel like a Bostonian with creamy clam chowder, an overflowing lobster roll, and an oyster po-boy anointed with spicy remoulade and smoked bacon.
House-brewed beers and California-inspired plates are cranked out at the laid-back Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. It offers a dog-friendly fire pit and patio overlooking the water, where you can sip craft suds, partake in trivia night, and listen to live bands. Alongside your malty amber ale, you'll want to order one of Half Moon's fresh seafood dishes, such as Baja tacos, prawns & chips, or Dungeness crab in either the garlic, pesto, or cajun variety. (Fun fact: Dungeness crab fishing is illegal in the San Francisco Bay because the region is considered a breeding and hatching ground, so much of SF's Dungeness comes from Half Moon Bay.)