Which SF Neighborhood Should You Move To?
Despite being just 46.9 square miles, San Francisco and its million-billion-trillion 'hoods and micro-'hoods can be seriously confusing. And that’s even if you’re from here. If you’re not from here, there’s no way you’ll know how to tell the difference between the Upper Haight and Lower Haight (hippies/hipsters) or Pac Heights and Lower Pac Heights (Tesla/Prius). Yeah, it’s pretty impossible to keep track of SF’s constantly changing landscape... Or it WAS until we put together this breakdown of 31 SF neighborhoods that can be your guide the next time you’re thinking about changing ZIP codes.
Bayview-Hunters Point isn’t the most popular neighborhood in SF, thanks to the fact that it’s isolated, has pollution problems, and is identified as one of the Bay Area’s “extreme poverty” neighborhoods. Still, like all of San Francisco, it’s being gentrified. How this will change the neighborhood remains to be seen.
Who lives here: Bayview was once considered a historic African American district, and while it still has the highest percentage of African Americans among SF neighborhoods, that number is declining.
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,100/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Frisco Fried is one of the best places to get legit fried chicken in the city. And Smokin’ Warehouse Barbecue also lives up to its name. CDXX is where you’ll go for California cuisine and microbrews.
Public transit situation: The T Third St light rail needs to be your best friend.
Quote from a resident: “I think there's a lot of activity and growth happening in Bayview, but when I moved here, I also bought a car because I knew nobody would come out to visit me.” - @burr86
The people who live in Bernal love it for its small-town vibe, but they’re lying if they try to convince you it’s not kinda out of the way.
Who lives here: Bernal attracts couples/families, first-time homeowners, dog owners, artists, and is also popular with the lesbian community.
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,810/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Cortland Ave is the main “drag” in Bernal and is home to Precita Park Café (work there in the morning; come back at night for a great dinner), Holy Water (a neighborhood bar with great cocktails), and Wild Side West, a lesbian bar with one of the best back patio gardens in SF. You’ll have to walk down the hill towards the Mission to get to Front Porch, but you can burn off the fried chicken (some of the best in town) on the walk home.
Public transit situation: The 24-Divisadero and 67-Bernal Heights will both get you started on your journey, though you’re probably going to have to transfer at some point.
Quote from a resident: “I would say it's awesome because you're so close to one of the best spots for great views of the city (Bernal Hill), it has a super-neighborly vibe, people really take pride in the neighborhood, and it's not pretentious; it's close enough to the Mission that it's fairly easy to go out to all your favorite spots from when you used to live there. It's great for families, relatively quiet, laid-back, clean, and sunny (which I think most people don't realize!). The downside is the giant hill on Cortland that you have to walk up to get there.” - Ali B.
The Castro is known for being a “gay mecca,” which means it’s also a tourist attraction, but if you’re off the main strip, it’s also a great, even quiet, place to call home.
Who lives here: A lot of people in the LGBT community; families
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,320/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Well, Ike’s is there, so if you’re in the mood for a sandwich you’re set. Castro’s food scene has only been getting better in recent years. Get pizza on the patio at Starbelly, wait months for a reservation at Frances, or enjoy a late dinner at Bisou, which serves French fare. There are so many bars to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with the wraparound balcony at the Lookout or catching a game at Hi Tops, SF’s first gay sports bar.
Public transit situation: So many options -- the F streetcar (it’s historic!), the K, L, and M metro lines, and the 33, 35, 37, and 24.
Quote from a resident: “Views are amazing! Your neighbors will all be rich gay men! You will never really see any bums! It's super quiet, which is great, but you can't really walk anywhere. Public transportation is not amazing, so expect to Uber or drive everywhere.” - Jessica R.
There is no neighborhood in San Francisco where the line between local and tourist is more solidly drawn.
Who lives here: Chinatown has the largest Chinese population outside of Asia. It also has 15,000 people living in 20 square blocks which makes it the most densely populated urban area west of Manhattan.
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,505/month
Bar and restaurant scene: There’s tons of amazing authentic Chinese food and dim sum. Empress of China and Dol Ho are both excellent choices. At night, Li Po Lounge and its famous Chinese Mai Tais are the way to go, though Buddha Lounge is also a safe bet if dive bars are your thing.
Public transit situation: The 1-California, 10-Townsend, 12-Folsom/Pacific, 30-Stockton, and 41-Union will all get you a little closer to where you’re going.
Quote from a resident: “The crowds of both locals and tourists can be frustrating, but I like living close to Downtown, even if it means someone pushes me on the street any time I go outside. I also eat more dim sum than any one person probably should.” - Maya P.
Cole Valley is a little village with shops, bars, and restaurants. If you don’t want to leave, you almost never have to. And it’s close to Golden Gate Park.
Who lives here: Families with babies and dogs
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,430/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Zazie is a brunch go-to even for people not in Cole Valley; Say Cheese offers tasty sandwiches; and Padrecito serves up fancy Mexican food and legit cocktails. The bartenders at Finnegans Wake aren’t afraid of a strong drink and it has an outside area with a ping-pong table. InoVino is a great choice for a glass of wine and a first date. And the Ice Cream Bar has boozy milkshakes. See? You never have to leave!
Public transit situation: The N-Judah is your best bet, but the 43-Masonic, 37-Corbett, and 6-Parnassus are also right there.
Quote from a resident: “I love Cole Valley because it’s central to everything and has pretty much everything I could need, including good Mexican and French food, sushi, and a shop dedicated to cheese. Plus, it feels like a real community, which is something my dog and I really appreciate.” - @daisy
It’s like the Marina’s big sister with lots of good restaurants and plenty of gyms to work off the calories after.
Who lives here: Young urban professionals; families with children
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,280/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Union and Fillmore Sts are home to tons of great restaurants and bars including Atelier Crenn, Belga, Umami, Terzo, and Balboa Café. The bar scene skews a little younger, but the Bus Stop is a great place to watch sports, Ottimista is perfect for an after-work drink, and Black Horse London Pub is probably the most intimate (partially because it's the smallest) bar in the city.
Public transit situation: There’s no train, but the 30, 45, 41, 49, 3, and 43 are all right there.
Quote from a resident: “If you don't mind dodging the endless stream of yoga pants and double-wide strollers, Cow Hollow is a great area to live. Old-school gems like the Brazenhead, Perry's, and Black Horse seem like they were plucked right out of Maupin's San Francisco. And if you need a respite, Allyne Park is a hidden oasis away from the madness of Union St.” - @tvham
Go there for the dogs in the park; stay for the centrality. But be wary of the crime ‘cause it’s been getting worse recently.
Who lives here: Families with children and dogs; 30-something single people; Castro spillover
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,320/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Duboce Triangle is very residential, but Market and Castro Sts are close by. Duboce Park Café serves breakfast, sandwiches, pizzas, and has free Wi-Fi.
Public transit situation: The N-Judah is right there, and every single MUNI metro or bus that runs along Market is within walking distance.
Quote from a resident: “One of the tiniest nabes in SF, tree-lined Duboce Triangle is home to the doggiest of dog parks at Duboce Park (host to the annual DogFest), the Harvey Milk Rec Center (complete with state-of-the-art photography lab), and the perfectly charming bistro, L'Ardoise. Add to that the adjacencies to Lower Haight and Castro bars and all MUNI train lines, and it's nearly perfect. One major drawback: discarded hypodermics throughout the neighborhood from the needle exchange program that takes place behind the Market St Safeway each Tuesday. Ah, city living.” - David Lytle
The Dogpatch is very up-and-coming with lots of converted warehouses spaces and lofts.
Who lives here: Young professionals; artists
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,970/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Dogpatch is probably best known right now for its food. Magnolia Brewing Company recently opened up a giant brewpub there, Piccino has great Italian, and The Ramp is THE place to go to sit outside by the water on a sunny day.
Public transit situation: Easier to bike around than, say, Potrero, but the Third St line will still be a major part of your life.
Quote from a resident: “We bought our loft 10 years ago, which was probably the best investment I’ve ever made. I love walking to Just for You Café for brunch and my husband and I go to Mission Rock Resort for oysters more often than I want to admit.” - Abby D.
South of the Mission, this neighborhood is low-key and next to the city’s second-biggest park.
Who lives here: It’s actually one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in SF with lots of families.
Median one-bedroom rent: $1,950/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Lots of Asian and Mexican restaurants. A few local watering holes, like Broken Record (make sure you get the burger there).
Public transit situation: Eh… the M and the J will get you close.
Quote from a resident: “It can feel sort of desolate and if not for the fact that I have a view of the Mission, I might not feel like I’m actually in San Francisco. It’s way affordable though and since I work south of the city, it sort of makes sense for my commute. Also, I have two dogs, so McClaren Park, which is always empty, is basically our backyard.” - Megan
Psych! No one actually lives there.
A lovely residential neighborhood “no one” ever goes to.
Who lives here: People who don’t enjoy visitors; families; professionals
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,800/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Glen Park isn’t known for its bustling restaurant scene, but there’s actually more there than you’d think. Le P'tit Laurent is a popular French spot, the Cheese Boutique is the place to go for cheese and sandwiches, and Glen Park Station is a good local bar with a fireplace and TVs for watching the game.
Public transit situation: Glen Park BART station, J-Church, and a couple of bus lines
Quote from a resident: “Don’t move here. It's a beautiful residential neighborhood with access to an amazing recreation area and a decent commercial village. We want to keep it that way! Stay in the Marina where you belong.” - Jimmy V.
Hayes Valley used to be super seedy back in the day, but now people use words like “chic” and “trendy” to describe this bustling corridor.
Who lives here: Young professionals, though Hayes Valley remains diverse, despite gentrification efforts.
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,250/month
Bar and restaurant scene: It seems like a new bar or restaurant is popping up every day, but you can always count on Absinthe for great cocktails and food. Boxing Room serves up delicious Southern cuisine, including fried alligator, and Suppenkuche has authentic German fare and boots of beer. Biergarten is perfect for a midday beer and Smuggler’s Cove never fails when you’re in the mood for a pirate-themed Tiki bar with over 400 rums.
Public transit situation: 21-Hayes runs right through the neighborhood, but it’s also a short walk to the Civic Center MUNI/BART station.
Quote from a resident: "Hayes Valley is a great spot for restaurants and boutique shops (there are no chain stores allowed). Condos keep rising which is great for density and the retail businesses that go in (like Monsiuer Benjamin, for example). Downside is the prices are insane. There are still a lot of homeless people who are mainly harmless, but occasionally there are some ranting lunatics or I have to grab my 2-year-old to keep him from stepping in human poo. Places like the Jazz Center and the Nourse Theater offer incredible entertainment and at times (basically when shows let out) hundreds of patrons come streaming out to look for food and drinks. I feel like I'm in New York, not sleepy SF where it used to be hard to grab a bite after 10pm." - John Glander
It’s kind of like a mini Chinatown that’s also close to a ton of parks.
Who lives here: The Richmond has a lot of Irish and Russian roots and there’s also a big Chinese population.
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,140/month
Bar and restaurant scene: You’ll find some of the cheapest, most delicious dim sum on Clement St, plus the famous Burma Superstar is worth the wait (and there will be a wait). Steins is fun for grabbing a beer and German food and the Buckshot has skee-ball, which is all you need to know about that.
Public transit situation: No trains, but plenty of buses like the 1-California, 38-Geary, and 5-Fulton
Quote from a resident: “The Inner Richmond is a perfect mix of all the best things SF has to offer: great food, culture, and fun things to do outdoors. Yes, you're a little bit further out from jobs in Downtown/SoMa but MUNI is actually pretty fast and reliable to get down there and you're very central to many other cool neighborhoods in a way that you wouldn't be if you were living in, say, North Beach, SoMa, or the Outer Sunset. Being surrounded by a wide variety of affordable, tasty ethnic eateries and fun bars on Clement St plus having Golden Gate Park, Lake St (for running and biking), the Presidio and its golf course all a short distance away makes the Inner Richmond one of the more underrated places to live in the city. Bonus points for being an actual neighborhood with character and a diverse group of residents including families, older people, and students/recent graduates.” - Alex P.
People either love the Inner Sunset or they hate it. Either way, it’s really not that far out there and it just feels like San Francisco.
Who lives here: People who were born in SF; UCSF students; families
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,750/month
Bar and restaurant scene: If you like sushi, you’ll love the Inner Sunset. There are also lots of cafes and diners, and plenty of bars. Blackthorn Tavern and Yancey’s both have tons of TVs for watching the game.
Public transit situation: The N-Judah. Learn it. Love it.
Quote from a resident: "The Inner Sunset is a great place to live -- you have Golden Gate Park just blocks away, as well as many fine bars and restaurants. Just don't be surprised if your friends assume you've moved to a fog-covered land far, far away (when in fact it's just a few minutes)." - @njudah
This is the ‘hood all of the edgy cool kids move to when they come to SF.
Who lives here: Young people; people who love their bikes; hipsters
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,640/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Toronado is probably the most famous bar, thanks to its extensive beer list, but there are plenty of dive bars and places to get cheap eats, like Rosamunde Sausage Grill, Memphis Minnie’s Bar-B-Que Joint, and Wing Wings.
Public transit situation: The 7-Haight runs right down Haight St, but bikes are popular since The Wiggle is right there.
Quote from a resident: “It can feel seedy at times, but nothing beats having chill bars and cheap food right outside my door. I don’t leave my bike locked up outside any of them though; learned that lesson the hard way.” - Chris M.
Lower Pacific Heights
Thank you realtors for yet another neighborhood that used to be called something totally different 20 years ago. (Western AdditionUpper FillmoreLower Pac Heights.)
Who lives here: People who want to claim Pac Heights, but can’t afford Pac Heights; young professionals
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,260/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Upper Fillmore has lots of great bars and restaurants that cater to both families and professionals. SPQR, Pizzeria Delfina, and Elite Café are all good choices, plus there’s a ton of Thai food for eating in or taking out. Harry’s is the spot to watch the game and is usually full of people who’ve had one or two too many on the weekends.
Public transit situation: Eh… the 1, 22, and 24 are all right there, but you’ll probably Uber a lot.
Quote from a resident: “I had no idea Lower Pac Heights wasn’t a thing until a couple of years after I moved here. I like it a lot, but being so close to a Kiehl's has been a challenge. Being close to so much shopping in general is actually hard, though it’s good if I need a last-minute outfit. I definitely think it’s a fun place to live, especially if you’re sort of new to the city.” - Jennifer M.
The Marina has a terrible reputation that anyone who lives there would argue is totally undeserved. You know the people who live there really love it since they’re willing to pay that much rent to live on landfill.
Who lives here: Young professionals; people who were in sororities and fraternities; people who were young professionals, but are now older and have babies
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,680/month
Bar and restaurant scene: The Marina has a ton of good food and it’s all close together. A16, Delarosa, Greens, Scotland Yard, The Tipsy Pig, Causwells, and Tacolicious are just a few spots to grab a good meal. The bar scene can be a little douchey, but there are still plenty of great spots to grab a drink, including Monaghan’s, the Horseshoe Tavern, The Interval, and The Dorian.
Public transit situation: Lots of buses, including the 30, 45, 43, and 22
Quote from a resident: “People always hate on the Marina. I guess that means they hate the idea of living right next to Crissy Field, having some of the best restaurants in the city, and being surrounded by people who are fit and attractive.” - Jen F.
Easily SF’s most popular neighborhood thanks to the sunshine and bar scene, the Mission is also at the heart of almost every housing development and gentrification debate.
Who lives here: Hispanic families; blue-collar workers; hipsters; tech workers; 20-somethings
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,450/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Probably the best place in the city to live for eating and drinking. Taquerias are right next to trendy new spots, dive bars next to places that take 10 minutes to make craft cocktails.
Public transit situation: Two BART stations (16th and 24th Sts) as well as a million buses (9, 12, 14, 14L, 22, 27, 33, 48, 49, 67) and the J-Church on the western edge
Quote from a resident: “This is an amazing place to live if you love: burritos, gentrification, anger about gentrification, authentic SF culture (aka more than just white people!). If you're young and are moving to the city, it's either here or the Marina, and the two are becoming less and less dissimilar. It's always awake, loud, and has a bar open (which is fun when you're young). It's always awake, loud, and has a bar open (which is exhausting when you're old). It's a great 'SF Starter Kit' place to live.” - Drew Hoolhorst
Know before you go: some people call it “Snob Hill.” Also, there are a lot of swanky hotels on top of the hill, aka: lots and lots tourists. Still, there’s no denying it’s a gorgeous spot, thanks to Grace Cathedral and the amazing views.
Who lives here: Upper-class families; young urban professionals; old money
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,110/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Nob Hill isn’t really known for its restaurants, but if you’re in the mood to drink with tourists, head to Top of the Mark or the Tonga Room.
Public transit situation: You could take the California St cable car, or you could not do that and instead take the 1-California or the 27-Bryant.
Quote from a resident: “There's no better daily reminder to be grateful for where I live than when a bunch of tourists wave and screech with joy as they pass my apartment on a cable car. I mean, I guess I have tourists yelling outside my apartment every day, but their excitement for my little charming-as-fuck neighborhood is contagious. And this place really does feel magical -- like living in a postcard. After five years, watching the wild parrots fly across the most gorgeous views in all the city every twilight still takes my breath away. Of course, that could also have something to do with the massive hill I likely just struggled up, too. “ - Amy Copperman
Noe Valley’s main shopping drag has everything you could need, but if you live in one of the hills surrounding it, be prepared to get your heart rate up on the way home.
Who lives here: Families and tech people with young children who appreciate that there are so many Google bus stops nearby
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,250/month
Bar and restaurant scene: 24th St is where it’s all at with spots like Firefly Restaurant and Patxi's. There aren’t a lot of drinking options, but Valley Tavern has 20+ beers on tap, plenty of TVs, and an outside patio.
Public transit situation: J-Church and the 24-Divisadero
Quote from a resident: “Noe is a friendly and sunny neighborhood full of young families. It's easy to hate on the sheer volume of strollers, but all of the cute dogs (and, to be honest, kids) make up for it. It's pretty quiet, though, and if you're looking for anything to do after 9pm, you are out of luck.” - Kristen H.
Known for being home to Italian Americans (which it still is) and beatniks (not so much), North Beach is a bustling neighborhood that gets a ton of bridge and tunnel traffic on the weekends.
Who lives here: It’s still home to a lot of Italian Americans and old-school San Franciscans.
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,450/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Do you like to eat your meals in strip clubs? Then North Beach is the place for you. If not, don’t worry; North Beach is also home to some of the best Italian food in the city. Park Tavern is a sure bet, and Original Joe’s has been serving up food for 75 years. The cocktail scene is also bustling with bars like Comstock Saloon and The Devil’s Acre, but don’t skip out on old classics like Vesuvio’s and Tosca.
Public transit situation: It's not the easiest place to get to or from, but the 8, 30, 39, and 45 all serve North Beach.
Quote from a resident: “You know how everybody likes to complain about gentrification and SF changing? Come live in North Beach where everything looks exactly the same as it did 15 years ago, nothing new ever gets built (thanks Telegraph Hill Dwellers!), and instead of hipsters, you'll see the same old Chinese ladies walking around and going about their business long past the time that you'll move out of the neighborhood. You're never more than a short walk away from the waters by the Embarcadero, parks to chill in on a sunny day, or easily getting to your work. And if you like frequenting cheap neighborhood dive bars, having a wide range of late-night food options, and generally enjoy living in a lawless environment (and who doesn't), North Beach is for you!” - Alex
The Outer Richmond is still somewhat affordable, which makes it a great place to live, if you don’t care that there are never any cabs or Ubers around. And if you’re okay with constant fog.
Who lives here: Surfers; families; Russians; Irish; Chinese; wealthy people (see: Sea Cliff)
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,800/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Hahahaha. No. Okay, seriously there’s some good food in the Outer Richmond; it just isn’t on every single block. Hard Knox is all about the Southern food, Tommy’s serves amazing margaritas, and Pizzetta 221 is great for, yes: pizza. Plus, Park Chalet is right by the ocean for when you want to sit outside, drink beer, and listen to live music.
Public transit situation: Hahahaha. No. Okay, fine. The 1-California, 38-Geary, and 5-Fulton all go there.
Quote from a resident: “I love it out here because I surf and my dog has a yard he can play in, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a car. And a parking space. People love to tow cars here.” - Matt D.
Pretty much like the Outer Richmond, except on the other side of the park. You’re close to the beach, but that means you’re also close to the fog. And at times it can feel like suburbia.
Who lives here: Half of the Sunset’s residents are Asian American. There are also a lot of Irish Americans and plenty of families. And surfers.
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,500/month
Bar and restaurant scene: There’s always a wait for Outerlands, but it’s worth it. There’s never a wait for pizza at The Pizza Place on Noriega, but it’s also worth it. The best bar in the ‘hood, Riptide, is currently rebuilding after a devastating fire, but there are a few local spots. Still, it’s better if you like drinking at home.
Public transit situation: You’re going to do a lot of driving, but the N Judah will also be both your best and worst friend.
Quote from a resident: “Trouble Coffee is awesome. And Noriega pizza is very much East Coast in style of pizza and love of the Celtics. The downfalls are there is a pretty good chance you will never see the sun again, and if you have seasonal affective disorder, be ready to cry. A lot. Other downfalls may be you could be washing your car and in the span of an hour be offered drugs, twice. Also be ready for the chill with surfers and yoga mamas, but it's still okay to live there and make fun of that because the rare sunset on the beach with a beer lasts forever. And if you live close enough, you can fall asleep to waves crashing, and Chinese people lighting fireworks for who knows the fuck why.” - @cassiemccall
If you like mansions, stunning views, and mingling with the 1%, then you’ll love Pacific Heights.
Who lives here: Danielle Steele; Nancy Pelosi; Larry Ellison
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,860/month
Bar and restaurant scene: There is no bar and restaurant scene in Pacific Heights except on Fillmore St, which is technically Lower Pac Heights, which is technically a neighborhood made up by brokers, but who cares because your personal chef will likely be cooking all of your meals.
Public transit situation: You’re going to want a car. But there are a few bus lines that run through Pac Heights, like the 3, 22, and 45.
Quote from a resident: “I love the beauty of Pac Heights. When I walk out my door, I often see tourists on my street corner taking pictures. They're taking pics of the bay, the steep hills, and all the beautiful homes. The views from the corner of Fillmore and Broadway and Divisadero and Broadway are some of my favorite in the city. I also love the ambience of Fillmore St once you pop over the hill. It's lively, with lots of things to do, but also quaint and 'neighborhoodly,' I also think Pac Heights has the best summer street festival, the Fillmore Jazz Festival. As for the downfalls, it's expensive. I just read an article recently that it's the most expensive neighborhood in the city.” - @FrankGarzaSF
Presidio Heights/Laurel Heights
A lovely extension of Pacific Heights that’s right on the border of the Presidio.
Who lives here: Affluent people
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,850/month
Bar and restaurant scene: There aren’t a lot of bars in this neighborhood, but Spruce is excellent, albeit pricey, as is Sociale across the street. Ella’s is perfect for a down-home brunch. Just expect a wait.
Public transit situation: There aren’t a ton of options, but the 43-Masonic is nearby as is the 1-California.
Quote from a resident: “I didn’t actually want to live in this neighborhood, but it turns out I really love it. It’s very quiet, the fog doesn’t come here as much as I thought it would, and Laurel Village has everything I need in terms of groceries, a bookstore, a hardware store, and coffee. Sometimes it does feel a little too quiet, but if that’s the worst thing I’m complaining about, I think I’m fine.” - Jill A.
It’s always sunny in Potrero Hill. And often times, there’s parking as well!
Who lives here: Upper-middle-class people, often with families
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,760/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Chez Papa, Serpentine, and Plow are all Potrero Hill favorites. Bars aren’t a big thing in this neighborhood since it’s mostly residential, but Thee Parkside always has good live music.
Public transit situation: Get a car. Or take the 22-Fillmore, or maybe the 10. But probably just get a car.
Quote from a resident: “Great place to live if you love sunny weather. Lots of hills, which can be a downside if you don't like walking, or a positive if you are into fitness (hey that new Fitbit commercial was filmed here). Amazingly, has two of the most famous punk rock venues (Thee Parkside and Bottom of the Hill), and the Anchor Steam brewery tour is one of the best (though waiting list is months long). With all the Dogpatch/Mission Bay construction going on, there are lots of new wine bars and restaurants popping up. Getting a taxi used to be a problem because of less foot traffic than the Mission or say, North Beach, but Uber solved that problem. Easy access to southbound 101/280, but prepare to go through the entire city to go north of the peninsula. Plow is the best brunch in the city, but our Safeway is one of the worst.” - @mattconte
Home to the (not actually) crookedest street in the world, hidden staircases, and cozy restaurants, Russian Hill is a favorite spot for people who like the idea of the Marina, but don’t want to live in the Marina.
Who lives here: Young urban professionals; couples who haven’t had babies (yet); San Francisco families with old money
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,740/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Polk St has a ton of bars and restaurants and there are cute little cafes smattered throughout the neighborhood. Lord Stanley, Reverb, and Cocotte are all great places to eat dinner and Bullitt and Tonic both have a busy, if not a little younger, bar crowd. Greens is the place to go to watch the game.
Public transit situation: There are plenty of buses running through the neighborhood (1, 10, 12, 19, 27, 30, 45, 47, 49), as well as a cable car.
Quote from a resident: “I have a car, but I never use it. Everything I need is on Polk St, including groceries, coffee, and booze. If I could stay here forever, I would.” - Meredith M.
SoMa used to be warehouses and seediness; now it’s charmless loft apartments and startups. Still, it is home to the Giants and there are some great food and drink options. During the week, anyway. Truthfully, this neighborhood is hard to define because it’s so sprawling.
Who lives here: Tech bros; homeless people
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,890/month
Bar and restaurant scene: SoMa is enormous, which means there are a ton of dining options, most of which are top notch. Marlowe, Zero Zero, Prospect, and Salt House are just a few restaurants that will deliver a good meal. For drinks, try Black Hammer Brewing (just beer), Lord George (cocktails by South Park), or Pete’s Tavern if you also want to watch the game.
Public transit situation: There’s a good chance you’ll have to transfer unless you’re going somewhere along the N-Judah line.
Quote from a resident: “I don’t have rent control and there’s not a whole lot open around me on the weekends, but my building has a pool, a hot tub, and tennis courts, which is nice?” - Adam B.
In a city full of nice neighborhoods, the TL is decidedly *not* nice. In fact, it has the some of the highest crime rates in the city. Still, there are plenty of reasons to live here, one of which is affordable housing and the other of which is good bars and restaurants. Also, beware: there’s a nebulous border around the Tenderloin which realtors call the “Tendernob.” Whether or not this is a real neighborhood remains to be seen.
Who lives here: There’s a large homeless population, as well as young people looking for cheap places to live.
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,190/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Bourbon & Branch and Tradition are both known for trendy cocktails, while Mikkeller offers up rare beers on tap and Whiskey Thieves offers up... whiskey. Bartlett Hall has a solid menu and there’s always a wait for Huxley’s New American cuisine.
Public transit situation: Forget having a car in this part of town. The bus and metro are the only way to go. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to find a stop.
Quote from a resident: “One of the more affordable parts of SF, its convenient for walking to the Financial District, most buildings are rent controlled, and there are lots of great cocktail bars in the area. It’s not a good 'hood if you want quiet... throughout the week you'll definitely hear your share of drunk and/or crazy people if you leave your window open.” - @themayorpete
The Upper Haight can be annoying thanks to the tourists looking for the '60s and street kids looking for free money, but it’s right next to Golden Gate Park and central to pretty much everything.
Who lives here: Former (and current) hippies; hipsters; longtime residents; newcomers. The Upper Haight, like so many neighborhoods, is really a melting pot. You won’t see a lot of suit and ties though.
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,160/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Go to Magnolia for good food and good beer and Alembic for good food and excellent cocktails. Street Taco is the place to grab street tacos that aren’t on the street and Hobson’s Choice is perfect for drinking and people-watching. Any night that ends at Aub Zam Zam is a night that went well.
Public transit situation: The N-Judah is nearby in Cole Valley, but the 7, the 33, and the 43 are the neighborhood staples.
Quote from a resident: “I try to avoid Haight St on the weekends, but it’s a great place to go for a bite or drink during the week. And we love being so close to the park. Crime’s definitely gotten worse recently -- it seems like a car is being broken into every other day -- but that also seems to be true everywhere in the city recently.” - Marisa N.
Realtors have tried, pretty successfully, to separate the western part of the Western Addition into a new neighborhood, which they call NoPa in an attempt to gentrify it. That’s gross, but since we do have to acknowledge that part of town is now totally different from the Fillmore, we’ll just call it Divis. Right now it’s very up-and-coming with new bars and restaurants popping up as fast as people can get ‘em built.
Who lives here: This is a pretty ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood thanks to recent gentrification. The Fillmore used to have a bustling African American population, but many of those people have been forced out.
Median one-bedroom rent: $3,160 (around Divisadero)/$2,800 (around the Fillmore)
Bar and restaurant scene: Divisadero has some great food; Nopa and 4505 Burgers & BBQ are just two options. Statebird Provisions and Progress on Fillmore are both famous for a reason and Dosa is a sure bet for tasty Indian food in a cool space.
Public transit situation: No trains, but plenty of buses. That being said, a bike is a good thing to have in this neighborhood.
Quote from a resident: “I always tell people how much I love being by Alamo Square, but I actually don’t go there a lot. Nor do I ever run on the Panhandle like I tell myself I’m going to. It’s nice to know those things are there though and I appreciate that the neighborhood is still changing, so there’s always new stuff to do. Although I say that and yet go to Nopa for brunch every weekend.” - Alison F.
Another neighborhood that feels like a small town, West Portal has a lot of great mom-and-pop shops and a friendly vibe.
Who lives here: Families; retired people; students
Median one-bedroom rent: $2,900/month
Bar and restaurant scene: West Portal’s main strip goes on for a few blocks and within those blocks you have some of the best sub sandwiches in SF (Submarine Center), great burgers (Bullshead Restaurant), sushi, Chinese, Italian, and pizza (Goat Hill). There are also enough bars that you won’t have to go to the same one every single night.
Public transit situation: West Portal Station has the K, L, M, and T, and the 48 and 57 are also right there.
Quote from a resident: “Just tell everyone it sucks. I don’t want tech people to move here. Plus, the line at Sub Center is already hella long.” - Matt R.
Editor's Note: Rent prices provided by Zumper.com.
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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelance writer who has lived in Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Laurel Heights, and Inner Richmond, and now calls the Upper Haight/Cole Valley home. Follow her on Twitter: @daisy.