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San Francisco Neighborhoods

Updated on February 18, 2008

The Mission

Living in the Mission The Mission is an ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood, with a population that is approximately half Latino, a third White, and 11 percent Asian. It has a lot of artists and is known for being a less-expensive area to live in. There is a great selection of neighborhood bars and affordable dining options. The Mission sits east of Twin Peaks, which insulates it from the fog and wind from the west. As a result, the Mission has a tendency to be warmer and sunnier than the rest of the city.

People The Mission os the nexus of the Chicano and Latino community and a neighborhood of artists and hipsters. Most of the neighborhood's Hispanic residents tend to live on the eastern side and hipsters center around Valencia Street and Mission Dolores Park on the western side. However, there are certainly no distinct racial lines.

Pubs, Clubs, Entertainment The nightlife of the area centers around the intersection of 16th Street and Valencia Street. There are many bars, pubs, and clubs to choose from in this area and bordering neighborhoods. Double Dutch is an 80's themed bar, with Lite Brite, old school Nikes, and 80's photos oh the wall. Elbo Room is a 2-level bar where live music is often played. They host a monthly 60's soul party, which is rockin', a blast, and only $5. Only a few places in the Mission have a dress code, one of which is the nightclub Medjool, which has a rooftop bar and shares buildings with a hostel.

Parks Dolores park is a place where people barbecue, play sports, and bring their pets. They host a movie night every week in the summer and there are unique events all the time, such as Frenchie Friday.

Shops & Restaurants Going hand in hand with the large latino population, there are excellent restaurants serving the cuisines of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. You will also find great Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Italian and Chinese food in the area. There are many thrift shops, vintage shops, pawn shops, and non-chain grocery stores.

Transportation The neighborhood is served by the BART rail system with stations at 16th street and 24th street. Muni bus numbers 26, 12, 14, 49, 28, 33, 22, and 27 run through the area as well. To the west, the Muni J line runs down Church Street, linking the Mission to the city's western areas. There are many bike riders as well.

Good points Relatively less expensive housing, high density of restaurants and drinking establishments, cultural attractions

Bad points Seedy neighborhood

San Francisco Life

Cable Cars: a great way to see the city
Cable Cars: a great way to see the city

Russian Hill

Living in Russian Hill Russian Hill is an affluent, largely residential neighborhood. It is directly north of Nob Hill, south of Fisherman's Wharf, and west of North Beach. Russian Hill is sometimes called the 'Marina Junior', because of it's posh restaurants and shopping. The area is safe, and prices are relatively high. The crookedest street in San Francisco is located on Lombard Street, which is in Russian Hill.

Housing Mostly apartments and flats.

People The crowd leans towards the young professional crowd, and is predominantly white. As there is a Crunch Fitness located on Polk street, you'll often see people in workout clothes walking around. On sunday morning, you'll often catch people sitting outside having brunch or drinking coffee.

Pubs, Clubs, Entertainment Polk Street is the main street, on which most of the nightlife and restaurants are located. Greens Sports Bar is a great place to catch the game, as they have 23 TVs. Shanghai Kelly's is a bar, and Rouge is a club. Both are 2 popular night spots, which sit across the street from each other.

Parks There are tennis courts and a basketball court at the top of the hill.

Shops & Restaurants Clothing boutiques, hardware stores, groceries, and restaurants line Polk street. Though budget meals can be found, there are a considerable amount of sit-down restaurants to choose from, which are on the pricey side. Other than Escape from New York Pizza ($3.50/slice), there aren't many budget options. Nick's Crispy Tacos is a staple destination, where they have Taco Tuesdays and Breakfast Burritos on the weekends. There are Vietnamese and Thai restaurants, both of which are sit-down places.

Transportation The Powell-Hyde cable car passes directly over Russian Hill, and goes to Fisherman's Wharf and to Union Square. A number of San Francisco Muni buses also pass through Russian Hill, such as the 19, 12, 47 and 49.

Good points Safe, nice place to hang out, eat, or drink. Good nightlife and shopping.

Bad points Pricey. Not many budget dining options.

North Beach/Telegraph Hill

Living in North Beach/Telegraph Hill While North Beach is bustling with cafes and nightlife, Telegraph Hill is a residential area. Both neighborhoods are adjoining I'll refer to them in this piece as one. These areas sit in the north-east of the city, and is adjacent to Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. It is the city's most European neighborhood, with a primarily Italian flavor. Like The Mission, North Beach/Telegraph Hill is sheltered from the ocean breezes by hills to the west, and often enjoys sunny days when most of the city is covered in fog. The area has a compact layout that is conducive to walking.

Housing People This neighborhood is ethnically diverse, ranging from Italian and Chinese, to Arab, French, and Spanish.

Pubs, Clubs, Entertainment Dragon Bar, Zebra Lounge, Velvet Lounge, Sake Lab, and Dolce are all nightclubs in the area that typically have dress codes and cover charges. Scattered among the main strip (Columbus Street and Broadway) are many clubs, bars, and strip clubs. Bimbo's 365 is a great venue where you can have dinner and catch a live show. Cobb's comedy club is also in the area, where many stand up comics come to perform.

Parks Washington square park is the main square of north beach and each year the Annual North Beach Jazz Festival is held here.

Shops & Restaurants There is a strong commitment in the community to keep businesses and stores independently owned and operated. There are a number of cafes and restaurants, especially of the italian flavor. The Stinking Rose is a restaurant that is well known for its use of garlic in many dishes.

Good points great nightlife, restaurants, and shopping. Safe neighborhood.

Bad points pricey

The Tenderloin

Living in the Tenderloin The Tenderloin is a dense residential, retail and nightlife neighborhood. It lies west of Union Square, south of Nob Hill, and encompasses approximately 50 square blocks. The San Francisco Library Main Branch and Glide Memorial Church are both centers of the community. The Tenderloin has a diverse international community and is known for its bars, clubs, and ethnic restaurants. The area also has a seedy reputation due to significant homelessness, poverty, and crime. However, these conditions have kept rents in this area more affordable.

Housing The majority of housing is rented in dense 4-6 story Edwardian apartment buildings.

People The Tenderloin community is ethnically diverse, consisting of families, young people living in cheap apartments, and recent immigrants from Southeast Asia and Latin America. It is one of the lowest income neighborhoods in San Francisco and is home to a large population of homeless, those living in extreme poverty, and numerous soup kitchens and homeless shelters. It's not unlikely to pass homeless people or prostitutes as you walk around the neighborhood, especially the few blocks directly above Market Street.

Pubs, Clubs, Entertainment The Tenderloin has a lot of bars, clubs, and theaters to choose from. The Orpheum Theater, Great American Music Hall, Warfield Theater, Club 6, Suite 181, Ruby Skye ,and Strip clubs like Mitchell Brothers.

Parks There are a number of parks and playgrounds in the area, including Boeddeker Park, a multi-use facility. This is one of the most used parks in the city, but is often unused by children; drug addicts and intoxicated people commonly occupy it during the daytime. The Tenderloin Playground, which is youth oriented, sits on Ellis Street between Leavenworth and Hyde.

Shops & Restaurants In the Tenderloin, shopping sucks, but the area makes up for it in its restaurant selection. The neighborhood abounds in low priced ethnic restaurants, many of which have won raves from critics. There are many informal Pakistani/Indian restaurants, including Pakwan, Naan 'n' Curry, and Shalimar. There are also many Vietnamese restaurants, including Pho noodle soup shops and cafes that serve Vietnamese sandwiches on French-style baguettes. Part of the western area was officially named "Little Saigon" by the City.

Other restaurants in the area include several taquerias, as well as Thai, Chinese, Turkish, Korean, Middle Eastern, and other cuisines.

Transportation There are no shortages of transportation in the Tenderloin. Major bus lines dissect the neighborhood in all directions. The Powell Street and Civic Center subway stations connect the SF Muni lines and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, including service to and from the San Francisco International Airport.

With the large number of hotels, restaurants, bars and theaters in the neighborhood, cabs are usually easy to hail. From the center of the Tenderloin, rides to most areas are no more than 10 minutes, or $10.

Good points Affordable rent, diverse community, lots to do such as the library, asian art museum, and nightlife

Bad points Shady characters on the streets, especially at night. Drug-related crime.


Living in Haight-Ashbury The Haight-Ashbury, commonly known as The Haight, is a district famous for its role as a center of the 1960s hippie movement. The main area of the district is a 7-block stretch on Haight Street. The district is transitioning into the mainstream, as evidenced by the existence of American Apparel, Ben & Jerry's & McDonald's. Yet, the area still maintains its bohemian ambiance. It is home to many independent restaurants, bars, boutiques (TRUE, Stussy, ShoeBiz), thrift shops (Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading Co.), head shops, and record stores (Amoeba Records). The annual Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is held on the second Sunday of each June.

Housing The Haight is full of 19-century multi-story wooden houses.

Pubs, Clubs, Entertainment The main stretch of Upper Haight (between Stanyan and Fillmore) has several bars, including Hobson's Choice and a hookah bar.

Parks Adjacent to the Haight is the eastern edge of Golden Gate park. In the immediate vicinity are Hippie Hill (where drumming circles take place on Sundays), a playground, and Lawn Bowling grounds.

Shops & Restaurants The main commercial area is very diverse in street life. There is a constant flow of youth living on the street. However, the area has a low crime rate, relative to San Francisco's rougher neighborhoods. Restaurants range in cuisine from spanish tapas (Cha Cha Cha) to Thai (Thai Plurn, a restaurant situated in a converted apartment unit.

Transportation MUNI buses 37, 43, and 71 pass through the area, which bring you to Market Street. 5 blocks away from Haight street is the N Judah MUNI rail line, which connects to downtown BART stations, as well as the Sunset district and Sunset Beach in the western part of the city.

Good points Relatively safe, lots to do and see.

Bad points Panhandlers on the main strip.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Dolce in North Beach is closed and has been replaced by Apartment 24. Sake Lab is now Horizon. While the clubs and nightlife in Telegraph Hill are certainly world-class, don't forget the role of the neighborhood during the Beat Era.

    • profile image

      apartments valencia 

      10 years ago

      some nice info on San Fran - thinking of going there next month.


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