Where [in SF proper] should a Chowhound live?
- ErikT Apr 2, 2008 07:56 PM
I am in the process of completing a personal move to San Francisco from the east coast. For me, where I live is primarily about the food. Specifically, the question I care most about the answer to is, "How many great restaurants can I WALK to from my home?".
I tried living in Manhattan (specifically for the restaurants) but couldn't handle the cold winter weather, so I'm back in my favorite city. (I lived in North Beach from '93 to '98). But the neighborhoods have all changed, South of Market is completely different, and I need help figuring out where to look for housing if my main criterion is restaurants in the area.
Again, what I care specifically about is how many great restaurants I can walk to. By great restaurants, I mean gourmet food - no denny's or McDonald's, but since I eat out 14 times a week, I over-the-top high end places don't work well. The problem I had living in North Beach was that every place there was too rich and/or heavy for every day dining (Zax was my favorite exception if anyone remembers it). I frequently eat alone, and therefore prefer restaurants that have a comfortable setting for eating dinner at the bar.
Several people recommended the South Beach (ball park) area, but when I checked it out I liked the modern living spaces available there but found the restaurant scene terribly limited. The Paragon (a frequent stop of mine in the 90s) has moved there, but only a few other places were open when I toured the neighborhood and the whole place seemed dead. I'm decidedly not a sports fan either, so the prospect of living next to the park wasn't appealing.
I ended up taking a temporary (3 months) furnished lease in Cow Hollow because I couldn't figure out where to live on my short househunting visit. Although both Union and Chestnut appear "lined with restaurants", on closer inspection it seems like there are only a few places (Betelnut, maybe Osha, Circa if its not thursday night) that I would frequent. But if there is a part of San Francisco that feels like Los Angeles, it's this neighborhood, and frankly I don't like that feeling (no offense to LA intended). I'm more of a down-to-earth kind of guy and prefer to avoid scenes where image and trendiness are considered important to people.
So where should I be looking in the city? I can afford a car but prefer not to drive one. That's why I like the city in the first place, besides the food. First priority is walking distance restaurant selection, 2nd priority is convenient access to public transportation. A lot of people have said So. of Market, but if there is a busy at night/happening part of SoMA, I haven't found it yet. It's sure not around the ballpark neighborhood.
The best advice you can give me is "For XXX, try walking down YYY street around dinner time". I have 3 months to go research neighborhoods before my short-term lease runs out, so I can do plenty of research.
it seems to me the easiest thing would be to peruse this board and see which places appeal most to you and start mapping them.
The Mission--both the street itself and Valencia, as I'm sure you already know--has been v. happening in recent years.
If you like Asian, then there are parts of the Sunset you might find appealing, including Irving and Noriega west of 19th.
Upper Fillmore and just-plain Fillmore both are areas with lots of places to eat, including some with branches of established faves open or opening.
I recommend you do a little research on the SFPD web site for crime stats before you settle on a place you plan to be walking in at night.
That said, certainly Polk and the 'loin have a plethora of lower-priced restaurants of many different nationalities, with an accent on South and Southeast Asian.
As I'm sure you know, like New York or LA and probably many other cities, SF restaurants don't all cluster in one area.
You can eat good Chinese all over the city, though there are three or four prime clusters. Likewise Japanese away from Japantown.
Some parts of downtown (say, Bush or Pine)would put you in proximity to Chinatown and a variety of Union Square district places .
North Beach, aside from its other charms, puts Chinatown, the Embarcadero, and parts of the Financial District within fairly easy walking distance, along with the Beach itself.
19th and Noriega is very dead, to put it nicely.
9th and Irving is a nice neighborhood. It's become popular because it's on a Metro line that gets you downtown in 20 minutes. Sleepy by Mission standards but diverse offerings and close to GG Park, the Richmond/Clement St.
19th/Irving is good for Asian food but pretty much dies at 6 p.m.
This discussion has come up before but for the life of me, I can't tell you how to search for it...
Every time, I have touted my neighborhood; Western Addition/Japantown. I live on the corner of Webster and Geary and I have within a 10-minute walk all of the new restored Fillmore Jazz District (Yoshi's, 1300 at Fillmore, Rasella's, Sheba's Lounge, and Jubili yogurt), the Fillmore (SPQR, Vivandi, Toraya, and about ten other restaurants including some under construction like a new Dosa's as well as an Out The Door (quickie version of Slanted Door), and then there is Japantown (Kiss, Kappa, and more than two dozen Japanese/Korean). Michelin-starred Bushi-Tei and Quince are also walking distance.
For groceries we have both a Mollie Stones and a Safeway. Pizza-wise, I stick to either Extreme or Mozzarella di Buffala (good Brazilian food also to be found there!). Bay Bread and La Boulangerie supply bread, macarons, and other baked goodies. Bittersweet Cafe can warm you with unctuous chocolate treats and Tango Gelato can cool you down.
Honestly, the *only* thing I can't get is good Middle Eastern. Caveat though - it IS not a cheap neighborhood and I am guessing that most studios and single-bedroom apartments are in the $2,000 to $3,000 a month range.
re: Carrie 218
I live in the same area (though on the other side of Geary St) and I also love it here. On top of the reasons Carrie listed, it's also walking distance to the great cheap eats in Tenderloin. On my side, I can also walk downhill to Hayes Valley. And it's in the middle of SF with quick access to all the other neighborhoods via Geary St/Fell St/Bush St for east/west and Franklin St/Van Ness St for north/south.
Need to weigh in here...
I was born and raised in SF and lived there for over 30 yrs, although not since 1998. As much as some things change, others don't. During my SF tenure I lived all over town and each area has it's own offerings and problems. My advice to you is to find a place to live that makes you happy in an area that suits you. The food is everywhere, even if secreted away and that is the fun of it!
I was driving through town from the Cow Palace a couple of months ago, motoring along Geneva to Mssion; even out there, there is food to be discovered.
Just find a home/don't overthink this.
There is no area better then another in San Francisco. The Muni is very decent and will take anywhere. In the city. I think the area in the upper Market is nice and has great link by public transportation. If I think you should pick a area that you like and then you can travel to the food. Also SOMA may have lofts available too. I have a friend who live in a converted warehouse. High ceilings and lots of room.
I pick an area out the city be have been know to travel to eat there a lot. But will do so less now that gas is this high. I like the idea of having more than one car parking at home.
Despite your stated reasons for North Beach not being your cup of tea I, as a many times visitor, would still pick that area for myself. I also spend a lot of time in restaurants during periods when my wife is away working and find it very easy to develop rapport with restaurant owners and managers and have things that are off menu prepared to my liking. I live in a small town in Arizona without a lot of choices and find myself sitting at the bar at Outback many nights enjoying two for one wine (Yeah, I know, far from CHish) and the chefs in the kitchen make me quesadillas with fresh chopped salsa, with fresh jalapenos and cilantro, and great tacos and as all of you know they are not on the menu. It seems they are more than willing to accommodate me and the proximity to the Italian and ethnic choices (proximity to China Town in particular) and extremely frequent and accessible transportation by bus would make that the area of choice for me. You would not find me out by the beach spraying the inside of my closets with bleach every three months to kill the mold, that is for sure. Just my two cents.
Can't beat the Mission for walkable restaurants. No other neighborhood offers as much variety in a compact area. Ideally, make Bi-Rite your corner store.
Here are some related topics:
At least two previous long topics on this exact question have been removed by the moderators, so I'm not going to go on at length.
Well, if you are looking for concentrated happening scenes you probably hit it in Cow Hollow other than the area around 11th and Folsom which has a lot of clubs.
I lived in SOMA way over a decade. When I first moved there the ballpark was a twinkle in developers eyes and like a lot of the neighbors, we approached it with fear and loathing. They turned out to be a good neighbor so that is not a factor. It ain't like living near the East Coast ballparks. San Franciscans are more civilized. The ballpark here actually spiffed up the neighborhood nicely.
More of a factor is the Bay Bridge ... but since you are not driving much, that isn't so much a consideration ... but Folsom, Harrison, 1st can get really blocked at rush hour.
The area around the train station and Moscone Center have more late night eats (which I mean after 11) like the new Orson (bet that doesn't last long though), Bacar, Thirsty Bear, Oola. On the Embarcadero is the new Roasthaus and Waterbar. Closing a little earlier (in the 10-11 range there is Coco500, Lulu, Two, etc, etc. Anyway here's a list of many of the places in SOMA ... day and night.
I enjoyed SOMA a lot. I liked being near the water and near downtown. I liked being near the Ferry Plaza Farmers market. There are nice little restaurants like Town's End with nice breakfasts and good deals for dinner. South Park has some nice cafes.I lliked looking out my window at a sweeping view of the bay and watching the boats go by ... great way to wake up. It isn't as food-dense as some areas but there are nice places and it is continuing to develop.
The Safeway and Whole Foods filled the long time gap in the supermarket scene in SOMA. It is still not bakery heavy, but you can always walk to Ferry Plaza and hit Acme and Frog Hollow.
That being said Carrie has a good point about the evolving Fillmore being one of the more walkable with a lot of diversity. It is also positioned so that other food neighborhoods like Clement Street aren't that far away.
If you can afford to live in Cow Hollow or the SOMA ballpark area you can certainly afford the Fillmore which is a lower-rent district in comparison and at this point still a little grittier ... depending on what end of Filmore you choose ... grittier near Geary and more toney as you go up the hill toward Broadway.
Hayes Valley is also evolving a lot recently, so you might take a look there.
Looking forward to your posts on wherever you decide and hope to hear about some of your experiences in Cow Hollow.
SOMA has some late-night places, but they're not very diverse, mostly Cal / New American cuisine. Ethnic places, especially those open after the office crowd goes home, are mostly Americanized. After the office workers go home, there aren't many budget options. Many blocks are dead at night, except on weekends when suburban kids are club-hopping. Not a very attractive neighborhood for someone without a car.
I am a SOMA resident and I will plug my location of 5th and Folsom. Not sure what this is called specifically but it sure isn't South Beach/Ballpark. True, it's not as clean and yuppified (YET) as near the ballpark, but if you're coming from NYC, I think a bit of urban grit shouldn't be too hard for you. I will list some restaurants around that you can search on to read about that are all within walking distance of this area unless otherwise noted.
Bristol Farms (very spendy)
Civic Center Farmers Market
Nicer Cal/Med/Fusion-ish -
Oola (open until 1AM and stumbling distance)
Julie's Supper Club
Out the Door (and other plethora of things at the Westfield)
King of Thai Noodle
Split Pea Theory
the Vietnamese place of 6th and Harrison
Lousiana Fried Chicken
2 Taqeuerias on 6th and Mission
You're close to BART and MUNI and lots of bars and clubs in the area if that's your thing. AND you'll feel like you're worlds away from Cow Hollow/LA.
I have to recommend my hood, I live in Russian Hill at Larkin and Vallejo and there are a myriad of dining options within three blocks of me. I can go down to Polk and eat at Le Petit Robert, Pesce, Bar Johnny, Antica Trattoria, Yabbies, Polkers, Nick's Crisy Tacos, Extreme Pizza, Aux Delices Vietnamese, Rex Cafe, La Folie, Wasabi & Ginger, Lemongrass Thai, Andy's Chinese. If I go up to Hyde then there is Luella, Zarzuela, Frascati, Za Pizza, Sushi Groove South, Hyde Street Bistro, Hyde Street Seafood House, 1550 Hyde. This is all within ten minutes or less walking. It's an awesome place to live.
Here's something you might want to consider: no matter what neighborhood you live in, you'll probobly get bored of your local restaurants. For example, I've lived on Green and Larkin (Russian Hill) for the past three years, and while there are a ton of restaurants in the neighborhood that people love (cathyt lists them in her post above), I've eaten at them all so many times that they no longer interest me: I know what to expect at every place, and it's just no longer compelling.
So, I find myself going to the Mission or Hayes Valley or NOPA or pretty much anywhere in the city for great food. As long as you're centrally located, you'll be fine.
That said, I understand you want a neighborhood with options. The best one is the Mission: preferably as close to 18th and Guerrero as possible. That way you'd have bi-rite market, birite creamery, delfina, pizzeria delfina and tartine bakery right there - plus it's only a two block walk to a ton of stuff on Valencia. And I find that part of the Mission (near Dolores Park) to be a prettier and safer living environment than some of the grimier streets near the 16th St. BART station.
I would avoid SOMA. To me, it has no energy. The streets are big and wide and on weekends and evenings it can feel like a wasteland: grey and warehouse-y and depressing. I know the area right by the ballpark is livelier, but in that part of the City, you're pretty isolated - it's a lot harder to get outside the neighborhood without a long walk through sometimes-terrible neighborhoods (unless you hop on Muni, but that's not always fun). Plus, it doesn't feel like San Francisco.
You're right on this one. The local places only last so long and you do end up going to different neighborhoods...which is no big deal in SF. Also if you live near really tasty places...I'm not so sure that's good. Getting burnt out on the best would be bad.
That said, my criteria for a neighborhood would be:
1) easy transportation or parking (is both possible?), 2 blks distance to:
2) a good small grocery or big one
3) a decent cafe to either go in the morning or hang after work
4) a few basic restaurants that you could rely on (sandwich, burrito, breakfast, Chinese)..doesn't have to be the best, just good
5) at least one "nice" neighborhood places to get a quality meal w/o breaking the bank...again not the best
Of course these are subjective but if you need more or better in SF, it's easily available.
In my view, you should decide where you want to live based on how much you like the neighborhood. As others have mentioned, you will want to go outside your immediate neighborhood to eat much of the time anyway. In SF you even need to consider such questions as whether or not you want to see sun! While there are a lot of great restaurants there, I don't like the Mission - never have and at this point guess I never will. OTOH, I live in the Marina and obviously many people on this board hate my neighborhood. Food-wise, I can walk to Chestnut - which has many more places than Circa, trust me. I can also walk to the places on Polk and Union. And honestly I walk to Russian Hill just because I probably couldn't park much closer than my house anyway! So my advice is to choose a neighborhood that you like and that feels comfortable and then scout around for food options, not worrying about whether you can eat out within a few blocks every night. You should also check out the neighborhoods that you like at night. A lot of places kind of empty out at night - not a criticism, merely an observation. Good luck.
I've lived in 2 locations in SF, the Inner Sunset and Duboce Triangle (my current home).
The Inner Sunset is nice but a bit removed. But there are some good market options there -- Andronico's, Park's (produce market), Man Hing (for Chinese groceries, vegetables and roast duck). You've got a nice bakery Arizmendi. A lot of Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian options. Restaurants are non-pretentious in this 'hood, but easy to frequent. If you venture out towards Irving and 22nd Avenue there are some really good Chinese places, produce markets (22nd and Irving market rocks for fruit), a Jewish market, Middle Eastern markets and more.
Duboce Triangle isn't a "food nexus" but I'd describe it as a 'hood that is within close walking distance to a lot of good food nabes and well served by public transportation (all the Muni Metro lines pass through). You can easily walk to the Mission, Lower Haight, Hayes Valley or Castro. Jump on the Market Street subway to head into the Civic Center farmer's market or go a little further to get to the Ferry Building Market. You can also head outbound and hit sleepy little West Portal which has some decent eateries. Outbound on the J and you can get to Noe Valley easily. Outbound on the N and you can get to Upper Haight, Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset.
You are well served by markets in Duboce. You've got Golden Produce and Golden Natural Foods as well as the 24 hour Safeway. There are plenty of small markets in the Castro and Lower Haight that are close by and even the vaunted Bi-Rite Market is only a 12 minute walk away.
I like this neighborhood a lot for the variety of neighboring hoods, good walkability and rich transit options.
i love this thread and i hate this thread. no simple answers. i'll be moving out sometime next year. i can't decide where to live so i'll probably rent a small apartment near the embarcadero and the financial district until i can sort stuff out. i do know that access to mass transit overcomes a lot of shortcomings.
There are really only a hand full of neighborhoods with walk to food selection.
A lot of people pick an area like they're picking an identity (not that I'm suggesting that's what you're doing at all), but the most important thing should be proximity to public transport (it's an awful city without a car, sorry to say), markets, banks, post offices, and all those other living conveniences that make a city a city. Oh, and rent! Every area accept for maybe the Sunset has an extensive shopping area within 10 minutes of travel.... it's just a matter of what suits YOUR tastes, and the only way to determine that is to explore. Also, food wise, I think you'll find that like in New York, it's really the cheapie casual food take out options that effect your quality of living rather then the fancy places.
The Mission has become one of the most central areas, and thanks to recent changes of the map, that's your ideal choice without a car. You're near SOMA, and the Castro, and Hayes, and even Glen Park, plus a taxi is fairly reasonable to most every other part of the city from that area. There is no comparable. I would suggest living as close to Dolores as possible, because the quality of living conditions improve, and you're less likely to be neighbors with a bunch of part hipsters, or be woken up by loud music every morning. Technically it's Noe Valley actually. Parking there is miserable, and that will come up even though you don't want a car yourself. Expect a lot of street traffic passing by your windows at night, in the way of drunk kids or cracked out folks... it's not the suburbs. The block with Bi-Rite, Tartine and Delfina is food heaven. It's going to be the easiest area to feed your food cravings.
Then there are areas like Polk St. near Union, but it's really just an extension of that Union, Chestnut vibe. It's more spirited socially but food wise I could see the options getting stale really quickly. There's a good cheese shop, and a nice wine store, but they're not cheap. You can go through all the areas and check them off your list that way....North Beach doesn't have a great supermarket for example, and the food selection is limited to Pasta, Seafood, or Chinese...or leaving your area... they're trying to rezone it to be the type of neighborhood it was never meant to be, but unless you love what's there, you shouldn't move there. Unfortunately, no area in the city has everything, it's just not New York..... SOMA isn't good living without a car, it's very spread out, and caters to a different lifestyle. There are fun places to eat, but would you want to live there? Basically, having lived in both NY and SF, I think you're going to find that all the areas have their ups and downs, and the best way around it is to remember you're moving to a small city, that you're familiar with and plan on putting in the effort to explore all of it.
Many thanks to all who have responded so far! I can't say how much I appreciate the welcome reception and numerous suggestions. I appreciate all of it and will take the suggestions to heart.
I think several people have come to mistaken impressions about my goals and intentions, however. To clarify, I am easily able to afford a car and I will probably have one. The point is that I prefer a lifestyle in which I don't need to drive. When I lived in North Beach I had a Porsche in the garage that I drove about once every 6 months. So the point is not "I can't afford a car", but rather that I can afford to live where I choose, and would like to find the optimal location given my preference for city life not involving driving.
I don't care about what pizza options exist or what supermarket is in the neighborhood. I love gourmet food and don't mind spending money for it, within reason. As a guideline, I typically spend about $50/night on dinner with a glass of wine. I'm looking for the maximum number of options possible in that price range within walking distance. I care about great food, don't mind a social atmosphere, but avoid night clubs and other trendy scenes like the plague.
I appreciate everyone's taking the time to offer advice, but I just don't understand where the people are coming from when they say "don't worry about this - just choose a neighborhood where you want to live and find the food from there". I feel like they didn't pay attention to the quesiton or something. The point is that I have the luxury of choosing to live anywhere I want, and my choice is to focus on living in the place that offers the very best culinary options in walking distance, but without New York weather. Given that these are my stated criteria, to suggest that I should forget about culinary considerations in choosing a place to live seems silly, but I appreciate the gesture of well-meaning advice just the same.
I think the point is that SF proper is a fairly small place. Locating in North Beach, for instance, is a good idea because it's convenient to several of the better food neighborhoods in town, even though North Beach isn't itself one of the better food neighborhoods. I strongly agree with those who say that you should pick the neighborhood for its own sake, because the good food is everywhere in SF, and most parts of the town are pretty easy to access via foot, public transit, or taxi.
I can't speak with authority on the subject. I lived in the Mission years back, before it was gentrified. I wouldn't recommend it, although Dolores is pretty, and the general area is sunny more often than the rest of the city. And I understand the food scene there is quite vibrant these days.
But if you've got the money, I'd recommend somewhere with better views. Given your criteria, plus quality of life concerns, I'd go with North Beach. It's just so central, convenient, and fun to walk around in.
I do chime in with others who have suggested that close proximity to public transit is a very good thing in SF. Being anywhere near that grand artery known as Market can be very advantageous when in search of food. BART, MUNI, the trolleys, the Geary line, taxis-aplenty, etc.
Wow. Okay sorry for giving what was intended to be practical advice.
Try Nob Hill. Otherwise,that leaves the previous suggestions of Soma/South Park. Perhaps the Fillmore, Polk, or Potrero, but your selection will be no greater then the Marina, which you nixed. So if those don't suit your needs, then I doubt any neighborhoods will provide you the condensed upscale dining options you're dreaming of. Real talk. San Francisco does not have a Tribeca.
in my mind, there's no debate: you want to live in the mission. i too have a nice car, but prefer to walk. the mission is flat, sunny, and walkable to noe, castro, soma, and even parts of portrero (especially for someone relocating from nyc). plus, there's good access to public transportation.
rents are cheaper here relative to other parts of the city, so the neighborhood is full of the casual (but high-quality) drop-in restaurants you're describing like delfina, bar tartine, maverick, and the newly opened beretta. at the other end of the spectrum, you've got great ethnic eats like the famous taquerias (one category in which sf has nyc beat), truly mediterranean, yamo, etc. neighborhoods like soma are packed with event-y restaurants and cheaper spots like inner richmond are nearly all holes in the wall; mission is great for mid-range options that are ideal for the everyday eating out experience it sounds like you're looking for.
don't even get me started on bi-rite, rainbow grocery, and ritual roasters. i've been living in the mission for six months now, and it feels like there's a new place to try at least once a week.
Here's a breakdown of generally top-rated places by neighborhood. Since you've lived here before I presume you know that some of the borders are vague.
Financial District / Jackson Square
Marina / Cow Hollow
Western Addition / Pacific Heights
Polk / Russian Hill
Union Square / Chinatown
Dining Room at the Ritz
Tenderloin / Nob Hill
re: Robert Lauriston
A nice list, and helpful I am sure, but bear in mind the fact that he stated fifty dollars, I realize this is variable, with a glass, or maybe on foot two, and a comfortable bar setting and I think the choices by name are much broader. I mentioned earlier the fact that regular customers are often recognized by management as someone, even in a tourist city such as SF, who are worth cultivating. I believe one should look also at the number of places that can prepare off-menu items of high quality, and who are willing to do so, in order to make a regular customer happy. If one looks at the North Beach area, and its accessibility to other areas, I think one can see many such establishments. I admit I am prejudiced by the fact that breakfast is important to me and the ability to walk to Mama's on a semi-regular basis is probably influencing my recommendation. No one is going to go to Gary Danko, Rubicin or Delfino on a nightly basis. Most any neighborhood would probably work as it is more a factor of relationship building than it is a factor of pre-existing menus. I wish you well in finding a place that suits your needs.
re: Joan Kureczka
If you organize it that way, I will reiterate my neighborhood, Western Addition (knowing I probably forgot one or two) -- all of which I can walk to within 10 minutes or less:
- 1300 Fillmore
- Elite Café
- Panda Express
- Subway Sandwiches
- Burger King
- Popeye’s Chicken
- Tapioca Express
- India Palace
- La Mediterranee
- (NOTE: Dosa under construction)
- Pride Mediterranean
- San Wang
- One in the strip mall near Safeway
- Sheba Lounge
- Happy Shabu Shabu
- Juban Yakiniku House
- Toraya Sushi
- Maruya Sushi
- Sushi Boom
- Iso Bune
- Tan Po-Po
- On The Bridge
- Zao Noodle Bar (will be a new Delfina Pizza)
- Thai Stick
- Korean House
- Kui Shin Bo
- Seoul Garden
- Won Mi
- New Korea House
- Cocina Poblana
- La Salsa
- Mozzarella di Bufala
- Pizza Inferno
- Sophie’s Crepes
- The Creperie
- La Boulange
- Bay Area Bread
- Bittersweet Café
- Jubili Yogurt
- Tango Gelato
- Andersen Bakery
- Delanghe Patisserie
- Fresca (Peruvian)
- Out The Door (Under construction)
- Johnny Rockets
- Tan Tan Coffee Shop
- Café Murano
- May’s Coffee Shop
- Bushi Tei
- Kabuki Kitchen
- Café Kati
- Florio Bar & Café
- Harry’s Bar and Grill
- Honu’s Island Grill
- Curbside Cafe
- Café Fillmore
re: Robert Lauriston
I wish I could figure out which narrow requirements Erik has outlines which makes you believe my list does not qualify for.
As near as I can tell, he asked for the one location where he could walk to the most restaurants; obviously Western Addition abounds with hundreds of offerings, from fast food to haute cuisine.
What criteria am I seemingly missing that you, yourself have discerned?
re: Carrie 218
Opening post: "Although both Union and Chestnut appear 'lined with restaurants,' on closer inspection it seems like there are only a few places (Betelnut, maybe Osha, Circa if its not thursday night) that I would frequent."
April 5 post: "I don't care about what pizza options exist or what supermarket is in the neighborhood. I love gourmet food and don't mind spending money for it, within reason. As a guideline, I typically spend about $50/night on dinner with a glass of wine. ... I have the luxury of choosing to live anywhere I want, and my choice is to focus on living in the place that offers the very best culinary options in walking distance."
re: Robert Lauriston
"I have the luxury of choosing to live anywhere I want, and my choice is to focus on living in the place that offers the very best culinary options in walking distance"
- Elite Cafe
and my previous list are ALL within a 10-minute walk.
Please name another neighborhood that has as many comparable restaurants in such a short walking distance.
Ok, the concept is sinking in now... I had the impression from some posts that you guys were trying to say "don't worry about where the food is when you choose a place to live". I just couldn't comprehend how you could offer that advice when I said up front that my goal was to live where I could walk to the most restaurants.
Now I think I get it... Everyone is saying that no such central place exists in SF, so I might as well choose a neighborhood based on other criteria, or just on being central, because my ideal of being able to walk to a large selection of places just isn't realistic in this city. So I guess the advice is to get used to the idea I'm going to have to cab it or take public transportation frequently, and stop assuming I have to live within walking distance of all my regular dining choices.
The comment that SF just doesn't have a Tribeca really hit home. I lived in Tribeca for 4 months and couldn't stand it - I thought the place was totally dead at night. I wanted to avoid a Tribeca-like neighborhood in favor of something more hapening. Sounds like something AS hapening would be optimistic.
I get the concept behind the advice to forget about the food when choosing a neighborhood now, but it still doesn't work for me. If there really isn't a nice place where I can walk to an ample selection of restaurants, then I need to seriously re-think the decision to live in San Francisco. Sounds like I should look seriously at the Mission district before giving up. I went there today (day time) and it didn't seem all that much improved from its pre-regentrification days when I lived here in the 90s. I'll go back tonight and see how it feels around dinner time. Sounds like Mission and Valencia between 16th and 22nd is the main area to check out. Anyplace else?
Thanks again all,
For the kind of upscale-ish dining you want, I would really take a look around Nob Hill, maybe near Post Street....that area....
You'll be in walking distance from Tendernob, Polk/Hyde, parts of Soma, the financial district, Embarcadero/Ferry Building, North Beach,and not far from the Mission, and the rest of Market Street. etc. give or take some hills.
SOMA would be the closest thing to Tribeca, or even that metropolitan New York vibe which it sounds like you probably left the city to get away from anyway, because yup it gets dead at night. Long desolate stretches of just nothing. On paper it sounds great, but the reality is a little different. We can give you great lists of places broken down neighborhood by neighborhood, but it's really an abstract way to evaluate. What you did today, exploring is the best thing you could do.
Don't give up on SF yet. ... just be realistic that you're moving to a different city with a different layout. You can't fantasize about a lifestyle, and then expect a city to meet that vision. Keep exploring!
I would look again at North Beach. There have been a lot of changes in restaurants in the 10 years since you lived there, and I think as a general rule new restaurants tend to go lighter on the cuisine because eating syles have changed. It's still one of the liveliest places at night time (and I'm not talking about Bawdway). I just walked up Columbus, and there was barely room on the sidewalk to pass the people waiting for tables at the restaurants. Yes, it's Saturday night, but quite chilly.
I may be partisan, having lived in North Beach for most of the past 45 years since arriving as a Beatnik manqué in 1962, and feel that it is one of the few places in SF that really has a "there" there.
Based on your comments in this thread I would say your friends nailed it to start with. You belong in SOMA maybe nearer the Moscone center probably in the apartments on Folsom in the vicinity of 3rd and 4th.
From there you have immediate access (one - three blocks) to: Bong Su (upscale Vietnamese a la Slanted Door), Pazzia (good not heavy Italian), Chaat Cafe (Indian), Canton (Chinese ... god help you), Fly Trap (American), Mefil (Indian), Maya (Mexican), South Park Cafe (French), 21st Ammedment (beer), Thristy Bear (bear / tapas), Fifth Floor (French), Ducca (Italian), Two (California cuisine), Lulu (Med), Oola (American, Le Charm (French), Azie (Asian Fusion), XYZ (forget about it).
Within 5 - 6 blocks in any direction are Zuppa (skip it), Jack Falstaff (American), Salt House (American), Tres Agaves (Mexican), Town Hall (American), Fringale (French), Koh Samui & the Monkey (Thai), Coco500 (Californian), Acme Chop House (steakhouse), Towns End (American), Delancy St (American), Roasthaus (steak), Waterbar (seafood), Bacar (American), Bucca de beppo (just joking), Supperclub (updated dinner theatre), Paragon (you know that is a chain, right?), Brickhouse (burgers), Hotel Utah (bar), Umbria (Italian), South Food Wine Bar (Australian), Orson (Californian), Osha Thai, Naan N Chutney (Indian), Carmen's (Filipino), South Beach Cafe (Italian), the other chinese joint next to Town's End),
I know I missed some, purposely ommitted the lesser. It doesn't count places only open during the day like The Butler and the Chef, Cafe Cafe Centro, Yank Sing ... etc, etc.
From that list I whipped out, the apparent winner in terms of most upscale restaurants you could walk to is the Financial District, but it is depressingly dead at night.
So is most of SOMA. There are lots of restaurants, but they're spread around an area roughly 3 x 1.5 miles. Russian Hill and Nob Hill are pretty dead too; most of the restaurants are on Polk and in the Tenderloin.
I think Valencia Street, the Tenderloin, and Polk Street have the densest concentration of the kind of places you're looking for.
Here's a map of the top Chronicle's top 100 restaurants for 2008. It will give you an idea of where the top restaurants cluster. There are a number of Chowhound favorites missing, but you can blow it up, print it out and past it together on the wall and add your own restaurants. Your own personal chow ground zero will be apparent when you are done.
I live in Pacific Heights, near Divisadero. It's a great area due to the fact that it's pretty central to a lot of the city. Within walking distance are the restuarants on Fillmore St. (Vivande, SPQR, Jackson-Fillmore, Fresca and Cafe Kati in addition to a Pizzeria Delfina, Dosa and Out the Door all coming soon), Mollie Stones grocery store, NOPA and Little Star Pizza, all of the restaurants on Clement St., and Spruce and Quince for upscale dinning. In addition, it's a quick cab ride down to the Mission and all that it has to offer.
18th street is the best food street in San Francisco and soon to get better when Bi-Rite opens a wine bar there and Dolores Park Cafe eventually becomes something better,
Live around Dolores Park and you'll be very happy. Live above Dolores Park on liberty hill and you'll also have a beautiful view.
Very interesting sociological change from Mission to Valencia to Guerrero to Dolores. I would argue the most interesting progression of four parallel streets in San Francisco and frankly anywhere I have lived around the world.
For me, there's no question: Mission/Valencia is my favorite part of SF for food. It's also very well served by public transportation.
I haven't replied in a week because I've been busy following all the excellent suggestions here, and exploring more. I just wanted to post another note to thank everyone for their time and suggestions.
It does seem that the search is narrowing a little... I have concluded that the "great upscale neighborhood where all the greatest restaurants are in walking distance" just doesn't exist. So the question becomes identifying the great restaurants, picking the acceptable neighborhoods, and seeing what works.
I've been to the Valencia st. area now a couple of times and agree there are several decent food choices there. The feel of that neighborhood is too gritty for me to want to live there exactly, so I'm looking for the nicer surrounding areas. I'm checking out Dolores Park in detail, and will look at the 4th/Folsom suggestion as well.
Thanks again, everyone, for the suggestions.
I can't agree. The only good restaurants to in the Gourmet Ghetto are Chez Panisse, Cesar, and Cheese Board Pizza (not an ErikT-type place). The only really good restaurants on Solano are Rivoli (which may fit ErikT's requirements), China Village, and arguably Ajanta (which doesn't). The other choices are mediocre and relatively expensive.
Of the demographically upscale neighborhoods in the East Bay, Rockridge has by far the most good restaurants: Oliveto, À Côté, Wood Tavern, Soi 4, Uzen, Marica, maybe Citron and Garibaldi's.
I wonder if the BART station helps Rockridge beat the curse of upscale demographics?
4th & Folsom is too limiting; check out the bigger area bounded by 3rd & 4th, Folsom and Brannan. For example, from 3rd and Bryant, the following restaurants are among those that can be reached within a 10-minute walk.
Oola, Azie, Lulu, Orson, Zuppa, Fringale, Coco500, Bacar, Koh Samui and the Monkey, South, Pazzia, Flytrap, Mehfil Indian, Maya, South Park Cafe, South Beach Cafe, Ame, Ducca, Fifth Floor, Canton Chinese, Bong Su, Chaat Cafe, Naan n' Chutney, Jack Falstaff, Tres Agaves, Acme Chophouse, Nama Sushi, Sanraku Japanese, Thirsty Bear, and Two.
re: Paul H
and if you expand the stretch to 5th you can walk to:
- mint plaza and the new chef papa bistro
- out the door in westfield mall
- tons of places in the tenderloin
- the new wine bar -- terroir -- at 8th and folsom
and all the places you mentioned above
(all depends on how far you like to walk...
Check out Liberty St., Fair Oaks, Chattnooga, and the blocks west and south from 20th and Church. Two or three blocks from Valencia but feels like a very different neighborhod.
The restaurants in Noe Valley proper (24th west of Church) suffer from upscale demographic syndrome, lots of decent but not great places with relatively high prices.