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Moving to San Francisco: Foodie friendly neighborhoods?

I'm starting a job in the south bay in a month, and I'm looking to move to San Francisco from Pennsylvania. I'm a single mid-20s guy, going to be working long hours away from the city at a silicon valley job. I'd like to be able to spend what little time I have on the nights and weekends enjoying the city, especially the food, beer, and music scenes. Ideally, this means being really close to a few good places, so I don't waste even more time on travel than I already will be doing. Does anyone have any suggestions of what areas of the city to look at?

I'm not as interested in fine dining, since I'd rarely get to take advantage of that anyway, but more like casual stuff, ethnic food, funky places, craft beer/cocktail bars, grocery stores, and specialty markets.

I know it's going to be tough finding something good and within my budget (which is probably $2500/mo) anywhere, but which neighborhoods should be my priorities?

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  1. Welcome to the area!

    A few background questions: What do you want your commute to be like, do you mean the peninsula or the south bay, does your company provide transportation to/from SF, will you have a car, and is Cal Train convenient to where you work? Is eating past 10pm something you plan to do?

    FYI, the SF neighborhoods most easily accessible by car to the South Bay are covered in the following thread. I'm enjoying it quite a bit because it's so easy to get elsewhere in the city on the weekends, and the commute isn't terrible during the week. It's not a culinary or mecca though. Lots of cheap, not particularly healthy eats, and a handful of destinathing worthy spots:

    If the commute would make sense, Oakland is great. See also this thread:


    5 Replies
    1. re: hyperbowler

      I'll have company-provided transportation, but I don't know the specifics of that yet, so as of now there's no location constraints with respect to commute. I suppose it would be better in general to be further south than north though. I will also have a car, so more parking-friendly areas would be cool, although it looks like that might be a challenge regardless.

      Yeah, I'd like to be able to eat after 10, although if that's uncommon that's ok.

      and thanks, I'll check out that thread you linked

      1. re: alliaphagist

        Cool, company-provided transport will make a big difference.

        I edited my post, so look at the two links.

        Check out this map: http://sf.curbed.com/archives/2013/03...

        Focus on the Mission (you'll need to rent a garage, but it's doable for $2500 total) and Western Addition/NOPA. Duboce Triangle has good access to lots of other parts of the city, and is close enough to the Mission and other neighborhoods with good bars and eats

        See also:


        1. re: alliaphagist

          I'd suggest the Mission District, Upper Haight, or SoMa.

          1. re: alliaphagist

            I have done the company shuttle commute to the peninsula. Ask your HR rep for the shuttle map and schedule.

            I live in North Beach, was the first stop on one of the most frequent shuttle route. It took over an 70 minute minimum (taking one of the before 7:30 am shuttles) on the commute. I seldom left work before 8 pm, because that commute is almost certainly 2 hrs.

            You are going to want to be as south in the City as possible, Noe Valley is the most popular for the shuttle commute crowd. It's also the reason rent in that neighborhood sky rocketed.

            Restaurants in SF close quite early compare to cities like NYC. Not many serve till that late Mon-Thur.

            1. re: alliaphagist

              "company provided transport" means one of the busses (like google bus or yahoo bus). Check the bus stops and live within 3 or 4 blocks. Anything else is not what you want - you don't want to bike or drive to a stop.

              That being said, you'll want to be between Mission and SOMA.

          2. Here's a thread from last year that had a very similar question to yours. It should give you some ideas:


            4 Replies
            1. re: pamf

              Second on that topic. Note that many neighborhoods, including the Mission, lower Haight, and every other area with a high concentration of bars and restaurants, are a nightmare for parking unless you have a garage. If you want to live in SF, consider getting rid of your car and doing hourly rental or rental when you need one.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                OP is commuting to Silicon Valley so driving is probably the way.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Actually, I should have company-provided transportation to work. I have a car just because I already own one, and I like it. It also would be really nice to have in order to leave the city or go anywhere that's not easily accessible with public transportation.

                  I know parking's going to be a problem though. I figure I'll give it a few months, and if it's more trouble than it's worth I'll ditch it. But I'm going to wait until I get there to decide that.

                  1. re: alliaphagist

                    One of our daughters and SIL live at about 16th and Mission and have a garage space. They CAN be had. And being new to the area, I think a car will be really nice. You can go off exploring. I'm envious. I'm 65 now and moved to the city when I was in my late 20s. What an adventure. You're going to love it, I'm sure.

            2. First of all, congrats on moving to the best city in the world! :)

              I'd recommend seriously considering the Lower Haight and the Mission.

              Lower Haight:
              casual stuff- clothing stores, street art, dog parks, one bus to the Marina, Sunset, Mission, Downtown areas
              ethnic food- Indian, Ethiopian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, WIngs, and more (all within 3-4 blocks)
              funky places - Everywhere
              craft beer/cocktail bars- Toronado (infamous for beer selection; was featured on Anthony Bourdain's show), Mad Dog (great trivia nights/sports bar), Nickies & Danny Coyles (Irish), Noc Noc (funky bar, feels like you're in a cartoon)
              grocery stores - Safeway

              The Mission also has a ton of great ethnic food, funky shops, street art, and a Whole Foods supermarket. Something to keep in mind though is that most areas of the Mission get pretty sketchy at night.

              Hope this helps!

              4 Replies
              1. re: ChowDownSF

                There's a Whole Foods in the Mission now? You're not thinking of the Noe Valley or Potrero branch?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  One is opening at Dolores x Market, across from the safeway there.

                2. re: ChowDownSF

                  Going to dissent on the Lower Haight. While it has excellent options for drinking, its choices for eating are actually mostly mediocre.

                  Palmyra is good and I haven't tried Axum, but the rest of the ethnic food is overshadowed by everything else in the city:

                  -the plantain burrrito at Cuco's might be OK but the rest of the Latin American options pale in comparison to the Mission
                  -the Chinese food in the LH is a total joke
                  -the Indian and Thai food is OK but is weak compared with many other neighborhoods. Indian Oven is now owned by the same India Clay Oven chain that has locations around SF.
                  -never heard anything particularly good about any of the Japanese restaurants in the LH. Japantown is significantly more than 3-4 blocks away.
                  -not really ethnic but the pizza in the Lower Haight is downright awful unless you head to Divisadero for whole pies at Ragazza or Little Star.
                  edit to add: the Rice Paper Scissors pop-up at Mojo on Divisadero is great for Vietnamese food - but it's only one day a week

                  Also, I've decided that Rosamunde's is incredibly overrated - they're taking the same Schwarz sausages that every hotdog maker in the city buys, throwing some condiments on, and selling them to drinkers at $6 a pop.

                  If you're going to be the kind of SF resident who never wants to venture past Stanyan or into the Tenderloin for good ethnic food and is content at Memphis Minnie's/Rickybobby/Nopa, by all means the Lower Haight is for you. If you are really serious about Asian food, try the Sunset.

                  PS: I find much of the LH just as sketchy as the Mission. It's less dense and dystopian feeling than, say, 16th and Mission, but on the other hand it's also significantly less well-lit than much of the Mission is.

                  1. re: bigwheel042

                    If you want to know which neighborhoods are really sketchy, look at the SFPD's crime maps. Muggers go where the money is.

                3. My suggestion would be to live somewhere that makes your daily work commute easy, and find a neighborhood you like based on that. Glen Park or Bernal Heights are worth looking into, but there are many pockets in between to consider.

                  Mission is the most central for eating/drinking options.

                  Traveling for food is a way of life though, and a lot of places are opening up away from shopping districts, and new ones are sprouting up all the time.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sugartoof

                    I think you make an excellent point. The nabes you mention are especially easy to get around to others.

                  2. This is all good advice, except that a single guy in his mid-20s probably wants to be closer to the "main" city, such that meeting up with your friends after work for a few drinks isn't a major hassle. Anything further south than Bernal Heights means that meeting you friends for drinks will probably involve a very long bus ride or a somewhat expensive cab. I don't think the commute is a big deal with respect to where you live -- on weeknights, you're going to care about that extra 15 minutes ride time at midnight when you're leaving the bar, not at 8pm when you get home. Besides, many of those commuter buses go right down Divisadero, so the Lower Haight and Nopa nabes are perfectly good choices.

                    If you are like most 20somethings in SF, you and your friends will most often hang out in the Mission, Lower Haight, Divis, Tenderloin and Polk Gulch areas, possibly also the Marina and North Beach areas, if you're a certain sort. I would not live someplace where getting to these neighborhoods takes a long time. Glen Park is definitely way too far, in my opinion.

                    I would say that you do not want to live west of 12th Ave, or south of Noe Valley or Bernal Heights. Beyond that, and you're in the San Francisco equivalent of Queens -- still in the city, but sort of far from the main action.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dunstable

                      "Glen Park is definitely way too far, in my opinion."

                      It can feel remote, yes, but it has a small set of places to eat, a nice gourmet market, a farmer's market, Alemany Market is close, and it's steps from BART, the freeway, right down the hill from Portola. Once you learn the streets, it's a quick hop to the Mission/SOMA area. I don't think people realize just how close.

                      The majority of the city is "away from the action", so if you want to feel like you're living in Brooklyn, or Manhattan instead of Queens, I guess you do have to cultivate that lifestyle.

                    2. If f you're going to spend two hours a day on a bus so that you can live in SF, you should live in the heart of things, ideally somewhere between Valencia and Church.

                      Is there really nowhere on the Peninsula with a similar scene? Redwood City?

                        1. re: smatbrat

                          Hah, yeah I did find that. The comments section seems to crucify the guy, but I thought it was actually pretty helpful, especially cause it sounds like it's from a similar perspective as what I would have.

                        2. " . . .more like casual stuff, ethnic food, funky places, craft beer/cocktail bars, grocery stores, and specialty markets.
                          you just described it: The Mission. Great food, upscale and down, great bar scene, and you CAN find relatively cheap rent if you give it some time. I live here, and i'm considerably (CONSIDERABLY) older than you, but i still love it here, enjoy the food choices, including the grocery shopping (dozens of meximarts), as well as the nightlife. it's easy to get to most places in the City from here too. parking on the streets here is impossible - they streetwash at the most ridiculous hours (4 a.m.??!), every other day or every day on some streets. we have a car that we keep in a garage we pay for monthly. the weather is great, too - it truly is warmer than any other place else in the City.

                          this is the place for you to be at your age. enjoy!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            Folks, the issue of neighborhood safety is one we try to stay away from on Chowhound, because it's pretty far from our core subject area and it tends to get people all riled up. We understand that it will be a factor in where alliaphagist chooses to live, but we hope he/she has a more reliable source of information on safety than the opinions on Chowhound, and that people here will concentrate on the food-related aspects of the decision.

                          2. mission, easily.

                            you can definitely do a one bedroom in the mission for $2500. or you can do what i do and live with multiple roommates, which will easily save you $1,000 per month on rent, which means more disposable income.

                            mission has crime, sure, but it's mostly drug- and gang-related.

                            parking in the mission isn't as hard as people make it out to be, especially if you live in one of the more residential areas a few blocks removed from the commercial stretch. just don't go too far east - there isn't a whole lot there, and it starts getting pretty far away from BART.

                            that being said, the above make the mission a very competitive and expensive neighborhood. if you want to live in the next up and coming neighborhood, i would hands-down choose the divisdero corridor.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: vulber

                              You've never spent a hour looking for a parking space after midnight? Maybe the influx of restaurants and bars makes for more turnover.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                not going to divulge my exact spots, but generally, the northeast corner of the mission, which is more industrial, is pretty easy to find parking in at night.

                                1. re: vulber

                                  Sure, though finding a place where you can leave the car for a day or three narrows it down a lot. If you're working long hours and live near any of the happening neighborhoods, you want a garage, or no car.

                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  The worst SF parking I ever had was when I lived in Pac. Hts. (Pab b/n Franklin and Gough). Probably because rich folks had multiple cars and not enought garage spaces. One night I had met a frend for an early dinner and had driven. After dropping her off, I drove around for about an hour,getting farther and farther from home. I finally parked on the sidewalk,called her (no cell phones back then ) and invited my myself to sleepover :(

                              2. Hayes Valley is also good!