Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Dec 13, 2011 11:01 AM

Foodie from Chicago needs to know what SFO Neighborhood to live in.

Here are the facts:

I am moving to SF in a few months.
I like food.
I will be working in Menlo Park (not sure if I will drive or take the train yet).
I have a dog & a wife (they like food too).

Marina looks good but it seems too far for my commute?
Mission looks good but what is it like to live there?
Other posts have mentioned Hayes Valley as a good Food Hood but is it also a good Hood to reside?

Any tips are greatly appreciated.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Which Chicago neighborhood do you currently live in?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pamf

      Logan Square/Bucktown. Lots of great options there.

    2. Can't beat Dogpatch near the 22nd St. CalTrain station. There are lots of great places to eat and it's also near a couple of freeway onramps.

      18 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Thanks Robert - seems super convenient for my commute. That is close to Potrero Hill right? I was checking there but it seemed a little desolate... I will check it out.

        1. re: kelgar21

          Dog Patch ...Not a great neighborhood for either a kid or a dog...basically an industrial area being repurposed for housing with a pocket here and there of older nearby parks of any size,..and pretty desolate at night. Do you wish to be an Urban Pioneer as a new neighborhood ultimately emerges?...The Mission is trendy..with new and older housing, the best weather in the city...access to the freeway and Dolores Park and numerous smaller parks/playgrounds.and hospitals. it is multi ethnic and quite vibrant...

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            Dogpatch has been repurposed, definitely past tense, pioneers are long gone. West of Third it's solidly upper middle-class at this point, and east the loft / industrial spaces are pretty upscale, architects, designers, gourmet butcher, Kitchenette. Walk around Serpentine, Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, Yield, and Piccino some evening to get a sense of the demographics, or midday to see all the strollers. Live around 20th and Pennsylvania and the Potrero restaurant row (18th from Connecticut and Texas) is equidistant.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              There still is no THERE cohesion yet... just pockets of and there...and hardly a pedestrian feel park....and no real neighborhood feel for which SF is noted....some food yes...but hardly a place for a pet.or a pedestrian..and did I miss a supermarket somewhere?

              1. re: ChowFun_derek

                I think Dogpatch is where Hayes Valley was 15 year ago, but it's going to change a lot faster because of the Mission Bay campus they're building, which is among the priciest commercial real estate in the city right now. So I wouldn't be at all surprised if a market pops up soon. Already they have a butcher for goodnesssakes. The only thing I don't love is the new housing stock which is mostly big condo/loft buildings. Somehow it feels isolating unless you live in that building.

                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  If you were picking a neighborhood solely for food, the Mission can't be beat, but factor in the CalTrain commute ... I have foodie friends, one of whom goes pretty much everywhere on foot or public transit, who moved to 20th and Pennsylvania a couple of years ago and they love it.

                  1. re: ChowFun_derek

                    There's Whole Foods & Good Life Grocery as well as a few spots for dogs near-by in Potrero.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    but what happens after you go to all of those restaurants? i've been in the mission for two years now and there's still plenty of places i haven't tried

                  3. re: ChowFun_derek

                    I don't think I am looking to be an Urban Pioneer at this time since I am unsure of my duration in any particular neighborhood... I am thinking of something more established with a nice neighborhood/community feel...
                    Mission sounds good but isn't it a little dicey?

                    1. re: kelgar21

                      There are parts of the Mission that you might find dicey, after dark, and other parts that are much nicer.

                      You might like Noe Valley, right next to the Mission, but probably the most neighbor-hoody part of SF.

                      Are you planning a trip to visit and walk around these neighborhoods before you make the move? Also, if you can try out the commute.

                      1. re: pamf

                        I will be able to visit some of the neighborhoods before I make a decision. Not sure about the commute - which I heard is not fun! I think I will look further into Noe Valley and give the Mission another chance :)

                      2. re: kelgar21

                        I don't know your Chicago neighborhood but based on the Wikipedia description, it sounds most like the Mission. I think you'll want to look west of Mission Street to Guerrero for your comfort zone.

                        1. re: kelgar21

                          as others have said, some parts of the Mission can be dicey, but there are also kiddie shops opening every day and strollers abound (to the chagrin of some, delight of others). if you really want the uber family friendly feel, and to still be close to really good food (aka, the Mission), I would say Noe. I wouldn't know about the commute, however. Bernal Heights is another good option - used to live there myself, and daily had to compete for sidewalk space with dogs and strollers. smaller neighborhood, so, less restaurants, but it's a growing foodie spot.

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            Come to think of it, I used to commute to Menlo from SF. If driving, Noe/Mission/Bernal are excellent neighborhoods b/c 280 feeds directly into them. If you plan to take the train, you'll really want to consider living within easy distance of the train stations (4th St or 22nd) unless you want to take a bus/MUNI to the train and you're great about running on time.

                        2. re: ChowFun_derek

                          I disagree. I think dogpatch is great for dogs (esprit park, outside seating at piccino, walk to the butcher and great dog day cares). It is a little desolate but an easy walk (or muni ride) into town.
                          ('course I live in SOMA with dogs because you can walk to everywhere from there, too, and it's easy to go south).

                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                            I have to agree with ChowFun here. There really is no there there yet. It's gonna happen but it'll be a while. If I were choosing a neighborhood for food I'd say you can't beat The Mission you just need to be strategic i.e west of Valencia St.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Robert is correct that Dogpatch is a great location given your commute logistics. The Potrero Hill neighborhood is adjacent and might also be considered.

                            Since you live in Logan Square you might find the Marina a bit posh, plus it is on the opposite side of the city from the trains and freeways for your commute.

                            Remember that SF is pretty small, so it's not that difficult to get from one area to another. You might find this series on the different neighborhoods, currently running in the SF Chronicle interesting:

                          3. Because you have a dog, a child, and a job on the Peninsula, I would suggest Bernal Heights, Glenn Park or Noe Valley. All are in the south part of the city, and are more family oriented than Dogpatch (more single family homes, fewer loft condos).

                            I live in Bernal with family and dog and it is well suited. Has largest off leash dog park in the city (the entire top of Bernal Hill). I commute south to San Mateo daily.

                            Food wise the restaurants on Cortland (Bernal's main business street) range from ok to good. It has a good grocery (Good Life), a great butcher shop (Avedano's,) an enoteca (Vino Rosso) and a small food hall (331 Cortland). Just down the hill on Mission street are a number of really good restaurants and bars.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Calvinist

                              Thanks! Bernal Heights wasn't even on my radar... I like that it is so close to all that the Mission & Noe Valley have to offer.

                              1. re: kelgar21

                                The Noe Valley restaurant scene has a major case of upscale demographic syndrome. There are some exceptions, such as Contigo, Incanto, and La Ciccia, but it's mostly decent-not-great places that charge higher prices than you'd pay for great food in the Mission. What little ethnic food there is is yuppified.

                                Most parts of Bernal, Mission, and Noe are parking nightmares unless you have a garage.

                              2. re: Calvinist

                                Just pointing out that OP does not mention a kid anywhere in his original post.

                                I would vote Noe due to its proximity to everything (especially the Mission) and easy freeway access.

                              3. I lived in Hayes Valley for 12 years. It's very oriented toward young singles and an urban crowd. I can't recall seeing any strollers in the neighborhood. I loved it because it was 10 mins in every direction to get to any other hood, freeway, BART. But it has already tilted beyond cool and more into Union Street ambiance (very commercial). Parking is now best after 10p. There are housing projects on Buchanan St too if that bothers you. But the food options are excellent with only the Mission possibly edging it out IMO.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: rubadubgdub

                                  what on earth do you mean no strollers? half the shops on Hayes St. now are oriented towards children. Patricia's Green is full of kids and parents every day and early evening. there are dogs everywhere!

                                  Hayes Valley is a great neighborhood to be in, such that you are central to everything and have the ability to go to nearly every neighborhood rather quickly. You will tire of what you find in HV (and the people Friday thru Sunday), but overall the neighborhood can't be beat.

                                  1. re: Amandica

                                    You're right, there is shopping for kids' stuff but do these parents live in HV? I think this is what our person wants, a community, not just a shopping destination (which it has become). Plus he doesn't say he has kids, only a dog, so this is probably a moot point. I haven't lived there in 3 yrs, so it's certainly possible that things have changed a bunch. But I mainly meant to emphasize that it's an urban neighborhood, much more so than many of the others in SF.

                                2. If you are going to live in an apartment or condo, you might want to consider South Beach. The northern part is excellent for restaurants, is close to the Ferry Building foodie Disneyland, and it only takes 6 minutes on BART to get to the Mission from the Embarcadero Station. The southern part has easy access to CalTrain and the freeways and the lawn at the South Beach Marina is really popular with dog owners.