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Mar 27, 2007 02:19 PM

Looking for great neighborhood to find "Chowhound" worthy walk up restaurant.

What are good CH neighborhoods in SF? Suggestions?

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  1. Please help by further defining "good." Good to live in? Good for ethnic food? Good to visit or stay in as a tourist? Good to feel safe in? Good for walking? Highest density of restaurants? Cheapest restaurants? Most luxurious restaurants? Best markets?

    As you may suspect by now, it depends.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Paul H

      Paul, thank you for the clarification. I *should* have known better! I was trying to find a neighborhood in SF where a tourist could walk around and have a better than average chance of finding a great restaurant not already on the "must go to" list that everyone makes. I know you can find it anywhere, which is the point of CH, but I want to increase the statistical probabilities for these folks. They don't need to stay in the neighborhood, just be able to walk around and have lunch in dinner in the same area. Sorry for such a random question!

      1. re: Tatum

        I'd go with Russian Hill... it has a lot of excellent neighborhood restaurants that aren't necessarily destination restaurants, and they tend to be tucked into side streets, so you get the feeling of exploration and discovery as you're walking around. It's also close enough to Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach that you can do the tourist thing, then head over to Russian Hill for a pleasant afternoon of walking around, reading menus, snacking on something from Boulange de Polk, and deciding where to eat for dinner.

        Names that come up frequently are Luella, Tablespoon, Petit Robert, Frascati, Acquerello.

        1. re: daveena

          Russian Hill's rents are too high to support a diverse restaurant scene, though the Tenderloin's not far away.

          1. re: Maya

            38188's fairly definitive as regards where to live: Mission (within easy walk of restaurant central at 18th & Valencia), closely followed by the inner Richmond (circa 7th and Clement).

            The Mission's a better base for a tourist as you have BART plus the 22 and 47-49 trolley buses to get across town.

      2. I'm pretty thrilled with my neighborhood; Fillmore which is adjacent to Japantown. For a tourist, there are boutique shops, great people-watching, Japantown, and no less than 40 eating establishments from Peruvian to small plates and two Michelin-starred restaurants (Bushi-Tei and Quince). We have local watering holes like Harry's Bar and the Fillmore Grill. Chez Nous has excellent Middle Eastern-inspired small plates while Vivande has to-die-for handmade pasta. At the bottom of the hill, on the corner of Fillmore and Geary, are musical potentials like The Boom Boom Room and The Fillmore, and across the street two Ethiopian restaurants that also include jazz; Rassela's and Sheba's. Besides the plethora of Japanese restaurants, there has been an increase in Korean establishments within Japantown. For small nibbles, there is La Boulange and Bay Bread for bakery items, Tango Gelato for a smooth, cool sweet, and Bittersweet Cafe for a chocolate treat (not to mention the variety of snacky shops wtihin Japantown itself).

        I love this neighborhood.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Carrie 218

          The Pacific Heights / Fillmore neighborhood's got a lot going on, but it's fairly high-rent, so that limits diversity and means prices are relatively high. Same goes for the Marina, the Castro, and Noe Valley. Nice places to live if you've got plenty of money, but few restaurants worth a detour.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            That doesn't leave much else.
            I live in Fillmore area, it's average for SF prices, less you consider the missions Taquria's average. Plus there nice shops and Japan town is a nice tourist spot, Suzu's worth checking out. Fillmore Jackson's is great Itailan, better than the North Beach phonies.

            1. re: cperretti

              Lower-rent areas with more diverse and affordable restaurants include the Mission, the Tenderloin, inner Richmond (Clement), and the Western Addition (Divisadero).

        2. As unimaginative and hackneyed as it sounds, I'd send a tourist to North Beach. In addition to all the great coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries it is adjacent to Chinatown with those restaurants. It is also the most compact.

          It also depends on their taste, how much they want to walk and and how much street smarts they have.

          The Mission is interesting and I'd start them out near Tartine and then direct them over to 24th Street for a variety of styles. They have to like shabby chic and have a certain amount of street smarts. For the most part the focus is Latino or Cal.

          Clement street starting at the foot (around near Q restaurant0 is great if they want to see the real Chinatown. The focus for the most part is Asian, but there are little pockets here and there of other cuisines. I think this is an interesting neighborhood.

          I like Fillmore too that is a longer spread out walk but Carrie has given a good description of that nabe I'd start up around Sacramento Street and walk downhill. More gentrified at the top with lots of boutique type of shops to look in . As you approach Geary it is still evolving and moderate street smarts come into play.

          If they are looking for a little upscale/tony there is either Union Street (on the Marina side of Geary near the Marina. Some nice restaurants and shops, not as many as others. They could walk down Fillmore to Chestnut with more of the same and better eating options.

          There is always Polk starting up around Le Petit Robert. Sort of mid-level in ambiance between Union Street and the Mission. Not as many interesting shops but some nice good eats. Some street smarts at the top and as you move closer to the Civic Center a lot more street smarts.

          There is the area around the Civic Center where Citizen Cake is located. Some good restaurants and shops and it is developing with lots more like Blue Bottle and Miette confections (or whatever the heck they called it) moving in. A little street smarts.

          And then, though it is not a neighborhood really. There is Always the Ferry Building to the Ballpark. Nice hanging out eating at the FB and that pleasant walk along the water to the Ball park with a few restaurants along the way ... Red's Java House ... Delancy St/Crossroads ... TownsEnd ... South Beach ... and then into the tip of Soma with places like Coco500, Fringale, all those dreary trendy-ish places like Tres Agaves or old places like the patio joint ... not so much shopping in this area but one might fine walk along the water with great views. Moderate street smarts as you reach the ballpark. I like walking along the water.

          However, I'd still send them to North Beach.

          4 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            North Beach is a great base for a tourist without a car.

            I wouldn't say the Mission is focused on Latino and California cuisines. There are plenty of both but it has the most diverse assortment of restaurants in the city. Here's a list of 32 of the various cuisines on offer:


            1. re: rworange

              The important clue is contained in this sentence: "They don't need to stay in the neighborhood, just be able to _walk_around_and_have_lunch_and_dinner_in_the_same_area."

              To me this means they want to walk around and look at interesting things (not necessarily food related) and be able to eat a good lunch and a good dinner in a great restaurant not already on the "must go to" list.

              I agree with rworange, North Beach is best. I'd suggest they stay at the Washington Square Inn. They will be in a real San Francisco residential neighborhood, and will be within easy walking distance of the Ferry Building and Chinatown. There are lots of really good places to eat in this area including Piperade, R&G Lounge, and Restaurant Ideale. And if they want to buy some Italian sandwiches from Molinari and take them up to the top of Telegraph Hill and eat them in the park behind Coit Tower, so much the better.

              1. re: Paul H

                North Beach is a gem, and there are great places to eat, but if you don't know where you're going it's easy to end up in a mediocre place or even an outright tourist trap. I'd give tourists a list rather than suggest they pick someplace on their own.

                To my taste the Mission is more interesting and diverse both in terms of food and shops, and if a restaurant is full, it's almost always a safe bet.

              2. re: rworange

                You know, I was feeling lame about recommending North Beach until I read this post. I sent them there, and just got the "we had the best time ever" call. Thanks for tips.

              3. There are great pockets everywhere. To fully enjoy the flavors walking is best way to see and feel. You need street smarts everywhere and in EVERY neighborhood. Also, I think it depends on the activities you are looking for to combined with eating.

                So far all the replies given are great for a tourist.
                The Mission area is pretty diverse and not just limited to Latin/California. Here are some links will show the breakdown of The Mission:
                24th street-
                Mission Dolores-
                16th- Valencia Hub-
                Mission - Portrero

                3 Replies
                1. re: Lori SF

                  There are great restaurants scattered all over San Francisco, but there are also some relative culinary wastelands. Around Fisherman's Wharf, the Financial District, and Union Square, if you don't plan ahead and know where to go it's easy to end up with mediocre food that costs more than something great a few blocks or short bus ride away.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    That is true Robert. Financial District is best avoided unless you work there then you have to be creative and pick the least evil, with the exception of a handful of great places. There are places around Union Square but nothing great in Union Square. Fisherman's Wharf yuck!

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Hayes Valley is a good place to stroll--Indigo is a nice little restaurant, as are Hayes St. Grill, Absinthe, and several smaller spots and cafes. Citizen Cake, though known more for its desserts, also serves elegant (but casual) lunch and dinner.

                      Noe Valley isn't a bad choice either. It's a bit out of the tourist area, but Church St. has some really good restaurants now.

                  2. If I understand the request correctly, these folks are looking for a fun neighborhood to wander around in and they want to be able to stop and have either lunch or dinner in the same neighborhood without a big brouhaha of an "in" place. Assuming the wandering around does not mean checking out restaurants, I would not be inclined to send someone to either the Mission or the inner Richmond. While there may be good restaurants in both places, I'm not sure there is much to see otherwise. Before I get deluged with rude comments, I've lived in SF for almost 40 years, including in the inner Richmond and I'm a native of the Bay Area. If one wanted to look at some great views and homes, Russian Hill is fun and Polk St. has several nice restaurants, several of which are listed here already. I'd add Yabbie's Coastal Kitchen on Polk for fish. One can also do the Union St./Chestnut St. loop or Fillmore Street (described in detail here) which has more shopping/window shopping options if that is of interest. North Beach and Chinatown, as noted below, have some interesting things to look at while wandering and there are restaurants noted already in this thread. To me, the first question is what do these people want to wander around and see and then, once that area is identified, figure out what the food options are.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dinnerout

                      The Richmond and the Mission are both very interesting for any food-obsessed tourist coming from a place without a lot of Latin, Asian, or Russian immigrants, plus the Mission has the hippest bar scene.

                      Though Stockton St. in Chinatown has the most intense Chinese food shopping.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        To me, this goes back to the question of what do these people want to wander around and see. I didn't see any indication that they either are or are not food-obsessed. If they are, then certain neighborhoods would definitely be more interesting than others, but without knowing what they want to wander and look it, it seems to me as we are simply suggesting restaurants in a vacuum. Maybe it is just me, but if I send out of town friends out to wander and eat, the first question I ask is where do you want to wander, then I can figure out what restaurants to suggest. Other folks may look at it entirely differently.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I'm not sure I would agree that the Mission is without interest for a tourist. It may not be loaded with tacky stuff like Pier 39, but there are some beautiful murals and architecture, Dolores Park, and of course Mission Dolores. I guess it depends on what type of tourist you are. And like Robert said, for someone who is food-obsessed, the diversity of cuisines available in a relatively compact area is pretty much unparalleled.

                        2. re: dinnerout

                          Couldn't agree with you more. North Beach, Polk Street or the Marina.