Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 19, 2010 07:44 PM

Moving to Bay Area - What SF neighborhoods rival Berkeley in good, cheap eats?

I just matched to a residency position at California Pacific Medical Center yesterday, and am really excited about getting to leave LA (I'm at USC) and move back up to the Bay Area. I used to live in Berkeley and am in love with that city, but I'm wondering whether it's worth it to commute from Berkeley to Pacific Heights every day. Is there anywhere in San Francisco that can give me the same foodie environment as Berkeley and the gourmet ghetto? Some of my favorites are Cheeseboard (cheeses, scones, pizza!), Berkeley Bowl (produce and everything else), the little Brazilian place on University, La Farine Bakery (morning buns!), and Acme (bread). I'm open to living in a new area if I can find one that would be as awesome as Berkeley.

I would really appreciate recommendations for neighborhoods in San Francisco that have a bunch of great foodie places, are fun, safe, and relatively cheap (doable to rent with $75,000 income).

Thank you! I can't wait to move up there soon!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The Mission or Inner Richmond. In the Mission, you have Tartine, BiRite Market, Pizzeria Delfina and much, much more all within 18th street and 5 blocks. The Inner Richmond has some of the best ethnic food in the Bay Area. From Pizzetta 211, to simple Chinese places. Easier commute from the inner Richmond to Pac Heights. Cheaper option would be the border between Nob Hill and Tendorloin which also has good ethnic eats like Bodega Bistro and Ler Ros and fun bars like Rye. Pac Heights itself has improved lately with Pizzeria Delfina, SPQR (my current crush), and DOSA. Lower Pac Heights which is South of Bush is much cheaper and still walking distance to your job. Nearby would be Divisadero. Berkeley is great from a distance to quality ratio. SF has equal good stuff in spades but it is spread out. Not worth the commute given the hours you will be facing. You can eat as well within city limits and avoid the hassle.

    Bodega Bistro
    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Pizzeria Delfina
    3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

    Pizzetta 211
    211 23rd Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

    2 Replies
    1. re: Amy G

      does the Inner Sunset still have an Andronico's? (10 or 11 and Irving)

      1. re: hill food

        Andronico's is at 1200 Irving St. (between Funston and 14th Ave.) in SF.

    2. Second on the inner Mission. Bi-Rite and Tartine are expensive compared with Berkeley Bowl, Cheese Board, and Acme, but it's tops for cheap restaurants. The 22 bus makes it an easy commute.

      Unfortunately you'd probably be paying maybe $400 a month more in rent than you would in the Temescal, which is the most comparable neighborhood in the East Bay.

      Berkeley Bowl
      2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

      6 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Rainbow Grocery is very close to the Mission and comparable price wise to Berkeley Bowl. The tolls and extra gas will make up for the $400 in rent savings, not to mention all the time in traffic.

        Berkeley Bowl
        2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

        Rainbow Grocery
        1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. re: Amy G

          BART between MacArthur and Civic Center is about $130 a month, and there's a free shuttle from BART.

          Rainbow has its virtues but isn't very similar to the Berkeley Bowl. Lousy produce and there's no meat.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Rainbow has lousy produce? Coulda fooled me. Cheap, it's not, but lousy? Some of it is the same stuff as what's at some of the farmers markets.

            Since I get most of my produce at farmers markets, I rarely buy it there, but I always look, sometimes pick up one thing or another. Looks good to me.

            1. re: maigre

              The fruit at Rainbow is definitely disappointing. We live two and a half blocks away and haven't bought a piece of fruit there for over a year.

              Oh, but bigger picture. Yes Mission is awesome. Great cheap eats and nicer places like Delfina and Flour + Water. Plus a mix of gourmet groceries and ethnic shops.

              1. re: possumspice

                Even the Swanton strawberries? Buddha's hands, citrus, apples?

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              A few disparate comments in response:
              1) if the OP has a car and plans to keep it, it will be expensive to get a garage in the Mission and impossible to park. My friends who are residents and work 18+ hour days really don't like to hassle finding parking when they get home in the middle of the night
              2) If the shuttle runs at all hours to BART, then Berkeley/Oakland might be better. If only during the 9-5 day time hours, then it doesn't really count as an option.
              3) "Rainbow...isn't very similar to the Berkeley Bowl." I get what you're saying, but if somebody asked which supermarket was most similar to Berkeley Bowl, the answer would be Whole Foods (prepared stuff) or Rainbow Grocery (bulk, local produce), each for different reasons.

              If the shuttle runs around the clock, one option might be 24th street in SF for slightly cheaper rent. Good ethnic (latino) neighborhood, BART from 24th to Civic Center is reliable, cheap, fast, and it's also easy to get over to the 18th st gourmet corridor. 24th also has Dynamo Donuts, Pal's Sandwiches, and a variety of other new-wave food and coffee going on.

              Berkeley Bowl
              2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

              Rainbow Grocery
              1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        2. Given where you're going to work and that you probably want a very short commute I suggest the inner Richmond district. Tons of restaurants and bars, at good prices. Plus a lot of cheap markets to buy an assortment of great foods. There are also some great supermarkets in the area, my fave being Cal Mart. Which is right up the street from the hospital.

          The area has several bus lines that will take you very close to where you work, the 1 California being the best one.

          You can totally manage this area given your budget needs. And many of the houses in the area have garages.

          FYI it would take FOREVER to get to the hospital from the mission on public transit.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cosmogrrl

            From the California St. hospital you are just a few blocks from a great array of restaurants and small markets on Clement St. Many of the small Asian markets have very good produce at good prices. New May Wah (Clement at 8th, just 9 or 10 blocks from the hospital) has a good selection of reasonably priced meat and seafood. More restaurants can be found a block over from Clement on Geary St.

            Since all this is so close to the hospital you don't actually have to live in the Inner Richmond to have easy access to the restaurants and markets-- you could visit them at lunch or after work and live in another good food neighborhood for even more variety.

            New May Wah
            719 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

            1. re: cosmogrrl

              The OP said Pacific Heights, so assuming we're talking about the campus at Sacramento and Webster, the 22 bus takes 13 to 25 minutes from / to 16th and Mission depending on traffic. So that foodiest part of the Mission would be a relatively easy commute.

            2. Thank you all who replied! This is really helpful info. It's sounding like Mission might be the best fit for me, and I'm really glad to hear the area around the hospital is a pretty good food area as well. I'm still really tempted to move back to Berkeley, since it's cheaper and has all of the places I already know and love, but that would be a long commute. If I do that I will just make my morning and evening subway commute mandatory study time. It's nice to have a few options of places to look at, though, so I will be checking apartment listings for both Mission and Berkeley.

              Thanks again!

              8 Replies
              1. re: Ciel

                I have to agree with the Richmond (laurel heights) recommendation. The California 1 is awesome and fast and Clement Street is a cheap food paradise. I used to live a few blocks from CPMC on Arguello and it was a great area (can walk to GG Park).

                1. re: myst

                  My fantasy has long been that if I moved to San Francisco, I'd try to get as close as possible to the corner of 18th & Guerrero. It's a pleasant, interesting neighborhood. Tartine Bakery is on the corner, Delfina Pizza and just plain Delfina down the block. There's BiRite Market, which would make a hell of a convenience store, though probably too expensive to buy all one's groceries there. Still on the same block, BiRite has an ice cream place. And there are tons of cafes, restaurants, bars, and (admittedly mostly small0 grocery stores in the blocks around. You could get staples at the Safeway at Church & Market.

                  And the 22 trolleybus to the hospital is only two blocks away, so the commute works.

                  Tartine Bakery
                  600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Delfina Restaurant
                  3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  1. re: redrover

                    Bi-Rite is pricey as a grocery store, though it's a great resource for prepared food for someone working long hours. Rainbow's just a mile away for lower prices and bigger selection.

                    Safeway, blech. The only thing I buy from them these days is dryer sheets, since Costco doesn't carry unscented.

                2. re: Ciel

                  My husband is a resident at UCSF and I would advise you NOT to push a long commute. It is really hard with long hours, home call and difficult to deal with transit depending on your specialty (surgery requires very early mornings). He commutes for family reasons, but we have to rent him a couch in the city to deal with home call. And he doesn't need sleep!

                  Anyway, I think that most neighborhoods have decent options although I do love the Dolores park area. if it weren't for the school situation we would probably live in Dolores Park area or SOMA.

                  Dolores Park Cafe
                  501 Dolores St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  1. re: jsaimd

                    the nice part of the Dolores Park/Mission area is - good restaurants, great weather and easy transit North to the Med Ctr. and easy access to downtown either by BART or the J church or the F line (and shopping at the Ferry Plaza Market)

                    1. re: hill food

                      I would still recommend living close to the hospital and just going to the Mission on the weekend. Walk to work, walk to Clement street and GG Park. Why commute at all if you don't have too? There is also a little star pizza on Divisadero, Ella's for banana pancakes, Shubert's for baked goods, Genki for crepes and japanese treats, and a couple fun lounge/bars within walking distance.

                      Little Star Pizza
                      846 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                      2801 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                      Ella's Restaurant
                      500 Presidio Ave, San Francisco, CA 94115

                      225 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                      Le Soleil Authentic Vietnamese
                      133 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                      King of Thai Kitchen 2
                      346 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                      Pho Hoa Clement
                      239 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

                      Lion Pub
                      , San Francisco, CA 94102

                      1. re: myst

                        I'd also recommend living as close to work as possible. Regardless of occupation it makes life easier. The more intense the schedule, the more you'll appreciate it.

                        I 3rd or 4th living near CPMC. You get the Richmond District, close enough to 9th/Irving, the Fillmore and Japantown, and of course if you have a car everything in the City is 20 minutes away. The only thing you can't get in area is stand-out cheap Mexican but you can get decent at Gordo's.

                        1. re: myst

                          I second this. Especially since MUNI is going to the dogs with all the budget cuts. And the 22 can be sporadic in service, even before the budget cuts. Tons of great stuff in the Richmond, with easy access to the rest of the city, except to maybe the Sunset district. Of course, keep in mind I'm not a huge Mission fan, I'm not hipster enough, and I really hate people urinating on someone's front steps.

                  2. There is probably nothing more fun than trying to read the "Archives of (pick your specialty)" while holding on to a pole on a crowded BART car.