Neighborhood Guides

San Francisco

San Francisco has 36 neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive flair. The Enkasa San Francisco Neighborhood Guide breaks down what it’s like living in some of the city’s bigger districts.

  • Schools and infrastructure

EAST

The Financial District

San Francisco’s downtown, the financial district is the business center of the city characterized by high rise commercial buildings, high-end hotels, fine dining, and newer development condo and rental buildings. People typically live in the financial district if they are looking for a place with stunning city views (see Millennium Tower), want more amenities in their residence (doorman, security, pool, gym), need to be close to work, or just prefer new construction and low maintenance.

Highlights

  • Equinox (two locations)
  • The Ferry Building
  • Embarcadero Boardwalk
  • The Battery
  • Punchline Comedy Club

  • Hyatt Regency San Francisco
  • Bay Club Gateway
  • Embarcadero Center
  • Kokkari Estiatorio

  • Wayfare Tavern
  • Angler
  • Cotogna
  • Quince

South of Market (SoMa)

One of the largest neighborhoods within San Francisco’s downtown corridor. SoMa covers everything south of Market Street as it runs east to west, roughly from 3rd Street to 9th Street and extends south to Townsend Street. SoMa represents an eclectic mix of retail, commercial, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, arts & culture, and residential real estate. It is most commonly known for its loft style buildings which appeal to the creative class and lean a bit more into a younger demo. SoMa has seen more new construction in recent years than other neighborhoods. SoMa is also fairly accessible from all parts of the city given its proximity to Market Street and is great for those who need to be close to the Bay Bridge or Highway 101.

Highlights

  • Yerba Buena Gardens / Center for the Arts
  • Westfield Shopping Center
  • Moscone Center the SF MOMA
  • The Contemporary Jewish Museum

  • Novela Cocktail Bar
  • Benu
  • Mourad

South Beach

An area that we like to refer to as a ‘pocket neighborhood,’ South Beach, is a sleepy little enclave just south of the Financial District and east of SoMa. It is a small corridor of townhomes and mid-rise residential buildings that sit just south of the Bay Bridge off the Embarcadero and are seconds from the waterfront. At the edge of south beach lies Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and this area is really known for its Bay Bridge views, quiet and clean streets, and bustling atmosphere during the spring and summer when the Giants are playing.

Highlights

  • South Beach Yacht Club
  • Embarcadero Boardwalk
  • Oracle Park

Iconic SF Dive Bars

  • Hi Dives
  • Reds
  • Frankies
  • 21st Amendment Brewery
  • Saison
  • Rooftop 25

Mission Bay

By San Francisco standards, Mission Bay is a relatively new development which lies due south of SoMa and runs along the interior coastline of the San Francisco Bay. Mission Bay really started developing in the early to mid 2000s and is a combination of high rise condo and rental buildings, retail, and well maintained parks and community-centric destinations that make it attractive for young families. Mission Bay also has some of the flattest real estate in all of San Francisco, which make it easy for stroller-pushing parents to get around. Even though it’s quite a change of pace from the hills, hustle, and bustle of the neighborhoods to the north, it provides a nice balance of live, work, and play with close proximity to Oracle Park, the Chase Center, and the world renowned UCSF Medical Center.

Highlights

  • Cal Train
  • Oracle Park
  • Chase Center

  • Uber HQ
  • UCSF Mission Bay
  • Spark Social

  • Mission Rock Restaurant
  • Mission Bay Wine & Cheese
  • New Belgium Brewing Taproom & Restaurant

The Dog Patch

Formerly a district that housed industrial warehouses and shipyards (and little else), the Dog Patch has been one of San Francisco’s most transformed neighborhoods over the last 10 years. It lies directly south of Mission Bay and includes a combination of new development rental and condo buildings, trendy cocktail bars and brew pubs, and more rustic commercial spaces that pay homage to the neighborhood’s industrial roots. The state of the art UCSF Mission Bay campus and 2020 development of the Chase Center in the Dog Patch (edge of Mission Bay) has significantly increased both property value and foot traffic in the area. The Dog Patch is now on the map as one of SF’s most desired up and coming ‘hoods.

Highlights

  • Magnolia Brewery
  • The Ramp
  • Mission Rock Resort
  • Harmonic Brewing

  • Restoration Hardware Gallery
  • Third Rail Bar
  • Yield Wine Bar

SOUTH

Potrero Hill

Located directly west of the Mission district and directly east of the Dog Patch lies Potrero Hill, a quiet community of mostly single family residences that sit on one of San Francisco’s many hills. Potrero is tucked away west of Highway 280, making it accessible for commuters entering from the south (Peninsula / Silicon Valley), and somewhat difficult to get to from anywhere else in the city. Potrero Hill has some of the most unique real estate (both traditional and modern) in all of San Francisco and is a great option for anyone looking for a larger space while still in a more residential, neighborhood-centric environment.

Highlights

  • Potrero Hill Recreation Center
  • Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital

  • San Francisco International High School
  • Plow Restaurant

  • Chez Maman East
  • Anchor Brewing Company

The Mission District

Arguably one of the most culturally rich communities in San Francisco, the Mission is home to delicious cuisine (both street food and fine dining), the historic Dolores Park, and two Bart stations. The Mission is eclectic, bustling with diversity and activity. It attracts a wide range of individuals from the Silicon Valley tech elite (Mark Zuckerberg has a home in the Mission), to those living on a much smaller budget with stretches of low income housing. Located along the primary Bart line in San Francisco, the Mission is very accessible from the downtown / SoMa area and generally fairly easy to get to from all areas of the city. Shielded by hills to the east and west, the Mission also boasts weather that is a bit warmer than other parts of the city.

Highlights

  • Mission Dolores Park
  • Heath Ceramics
  • Flour + Water
  • Tartine Bakery

  • Taqueria El Farolito
  • Beretta
  • Lazy Bear

  • Foreign Cinema
  • El Porteno II Restaurant & Bar
  • El Techo

Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights lies south of the Mission at the crest of one of San Francisco’s highest hills. Bernal was once one of the more affordable neighborhoods within the city limits, and its distance from the city center and charming ‘downtown’ area gives it a suburb-like feel within the city. The community consists of more single family residences and has been a hotbed for architects, developers, and the like to transform traditional San Francisco bungalows into jaw dropping modern, yet very livable residences. Take a stroll down Cortland Avenue for a great mix of ethnic cuisine, craft cocktail bars, and local watering holes—you won’t be disappointed. If you are looking for a bit more space, a slower pace, and a slight discount to some of the more pricey hillside neighborhoods of Pacific and Presidio Heights, Bernal Heights is a great option.

Highlights

  • Bernal Heights Park
  • Precita Park
  • Holly Park

  • Mitchell’s Ice Cream
  • Barebottle Brewing Company

Noe Valley

Just west of the busy and bustling streets of the Mission District lies Noe Valley, a quiet neighborhood known for sweeping hillside streets and classic Victorian architecture. The center of Noe Valley is at 24th and Castro Street, where you can find a small but very tasty selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars (be sure to check out the critically acclaimed Noe Valley Bakery!). Access into and out of Noe is a bit more difficult as it is positioned away from most of the public transportation and highways into and out of SF, however it is not far from the Church Street Lightrail which can take you into downtown SF.

Highlights

  • Noe Valley Courts
  • Douglass Park
  • Noe Valley Bakery
  • Bacco Restaurant

  • Noe Bagel
  • Valley Tavern
  • Diamond Cafe

  • Barneys Gourmet Hamburgers
  • Harmono Sushi
  • Firefly

Glen Park / Mira Loma

Glen Park is an old San Francisco neighborhood filled with curved and angled streets. In the center lies Glen Canyon Park, a natural escape from the city with a wide range of challenging and easy hiking trails. To the west of Glen Canyon Park is Mt. Davidson. For those looking for an architecturally distinct single family home in a classic San Francisco neighborhood, there is no place better than the Glen Park and Mira Loma area!

Highlights

  • Glen Park Recreation Center
  • Glen Park Station

  • Sunnyside Playground
  • Academy of Arts and Sciences

CENTRAL

Union Square

One of the most popular tourist destinations in San Francisco, Union Square is known for its blue chip retail stores (Saks 5th Avenue, Williams Sonoma, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany’s, and Nike Town all on the same block!), large hotels, arts & culture, and restaurants. Union Square lies north of SoMa and west of the Financial District. It is SF’s version of New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, and on any given day it is bustling with tourists and visitors looking to hitch a ride on San Francisco’s famed Trolley #5 rail car (among all the other things that Union Square has to offer). Given its presence as a tourist center, there is not much residential property in this area and the majority of the area is designed for commercial use.

Highlights

  • Westfield Mall
  • Harry Potter Theater
  • Luxury Retail – Neiman Marcus

  • Chanel
  • Dior; Del Popolo Pizzeria
  • Aliment

  • Sons & Daughters
  • Mastro’s Steakhouse
  • The Ritz-Calrton San Francisco

Nob Hill

Situated atop one of San Francisco’s tallest hills, Nob Hill is one of the larger residential areas in the city and is only a 10-15 minute ride from the city center via public transit. The neighborhood is known for its narrow but deep Victorian style homes built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Residents of this area love it for its charming coffee shops and corner bodegas, cozy restaurants and wine bars, and the access it provides to other parts of the city. Despite the high concentration of Victorians, there are a handful of high rise buildings in the neighborhood whose units provide sweeping views of the entire city.

Highlights

  • San Francisco Cable Car Museum
  • SF Masonic Auditorium
  • Grace Cathedral
  • Mark Hopkins Hotel / Top of the Mark
  • Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

  • House of Prime Rib
  • Nob Hill Cafe
  • Swan Oyster Depot
  • Zeki’s Bar

  • Harper & Rye
  • Amelie Wine Bar
  • Lord Stanley Restaurant
  • Hyde Street Seafood House & Raw Bar

Hayes Valley / Alamo Square

At one point a less desirable neighborhood, Hayes Valley went through a urban development renewal starting in the early 2000s when a highway overpass was removed from the central part of the neighborhood. It is now one of the hippest places to live in the city, offering a fun mix of craft wine and cocktail bars, trendy retail, and Michelin-star-worthy cuisine. It also has one of the more diverse cross-sections of residents in the city as it has large swaths of lower income housing juxtaposed with high-end, mid-rise condo developments. Just up the hill from the heart of Hayes Valley sits Alamo Square Park known for having one of the most iconic sets of real estate in San Francisco: the 5 home stretch that is affectionately referred to as the Painted Ladies. The Hayes Valley / Alamo Square area offers quintessential urban living and has become one of the more popular hoods in all of SF.

Highlights

  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • SF Jazz
  • International High School
  • Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
  • Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley
  • Hayes Valley Playground

  • Alamo Square Park
  • The Painted Ladies
  • Petit Crenn
  • Suppenkuche
  • A Mano
  • Absinthe

  • Birba
  • Nightbird
  • Linden Room
  • Souvla
  • Biergarten
  • Linden & Laguna

The Castro

Vibrant, expressive, eccentric—these are just a few of the words that can be used to describe The Castro. The Castro is one of the last neighborhoods at the south end of the Market Street corridor and it is known for its mostly flat and walkable streets, bustling and energetic bar and restaurant scene, and celebration of the LGBTQ community. Given the Castro’s proximity to Market Street, it is one of the more central and accessible neighborhoods in the entire city allowing for multiple commute options to downtown SF. Property in this area is a mix of Victorian multi-unit walk-ups, single family homes, and recently developed condo and apartment buildings. It is a quintessential San Francisco neighborhood and attracts a very diverse mix of inhabitants providing for a rich social and cultural experience.

Highlights

  • The Castro Theater
  • Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
  • Corona Heights Park
  • GLBT Historical Museum

  • The Lookout
  • Hi Tops
  • Last Rites

  • Churchill
  • Wilkhommen Blackhammer Brewing
  • Cliff’s Variety Store

NORTH

North Beach

Located just west and south of the Financial District, North Beach is the home of little Italy and known as the pasta and pizza epicenter of San Francisco. Columbus Street runs diagonally through the heart of the neighborhood with Broadway and Bay Street bordering to the east and west respectively. The area is a hotspot with tourists and visitors alike given its proximity to the water, appealing food scene, and iconic landmarks such as Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill, one of the steepest and tallest hills in San Francisco. Property in North Beach is some of the oldest in San Francisco with Victorian single and multi-family homes representing the majority of the real estate. Given North Beach’s dense and tightly packed, and hilly streets there has not been a lot of new development, and street parking is a challenge.

Highlights

  • Coit Tower/Telegraph Hill
  • Washington Square Park
  • Bay Club San Francisco
  • Levi’s Plaza
  • Joe DiMaggio Playground

  • Powell/Mason Cable Car Turnaround
  • Bimbo’s 365 Club
  • Cobb’s Comedy Club
  • San Francisco Art Institute
  • The New School of San Francisco

  • China Live
  • Calzones
  • Park Tavern
  • Tony’s Pizza
  • Don Pistos

Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the more popular tourist destinations in the city, Fisherman’s Wharf is situated just west of North Beach and is a mostly commercial district of shops, restaurants, and sight seeing. Many of the walking and biking tour companies in the city are based in Fisherman’s Wharf due to its proximity to the water providing immediate access to the Embarcadero, several ferry terminals, and the Marina District to the west. Ghirardelli Square is the most frequented destination within the area and is a great spot for a bite to eat, a sweet treat, or a casual stroll. Given its position as a tourist hotspot, Fisherman’s Wharf is mostly a hotel and restaurant district with a handful of small residential streets scattered throughout the neighborhood.

Highlights

  • Ghirardelli Marketplace & Ghirardelli Square
  • Aquatic Park & San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park
  • Gary Danko

  • The Buena Vista
  • Blue Mermaid Restaurant
  • Madame Tussauds San Francisco

Russian Hill

Adjacent to Nob Hill is Russian Hill, an area with almost all of the same residential features and characteristics as its neighbor to the east. Located slightly closer to the water, Russian Hill provides for some lifestyle advantages for those that want access to the Bay. The Polk Street corridor runs through the heart of Russian Hill and this 5 block strip provides for the ideal landing zone for trendy bars, restaurants, and cafes along with boutique grocery stores. Be prepared to walk up or down a hill depending on which direction you are heading in this area, but feel good that you are living in one of the more sought after neighborhoods in the city.

Highlights

  • George
  • Sterling Park
  • Lombard Street

  • Russian Hill Park
  • Saint Frank Coffee
  • Blue Barn

  • Nick’s Crispy Tacos
  • Seven Hills Restaurant

Marina / Cow Hollow

The Marina and Cow Hollow districts are home to some of the most beautiful streets in the entire Bay Area. The neighborhoods offer a bit of everything that makes San Francisco unique: picturesque tree lined streets, Bay and Golden Gate Views, and a bustling central corridor of restaurants, bars, and boutique retail on both Union and Chestnut streets. Residents of the Marina / Cow Hollow area may find it hard to leave given the ideal combination of outdoor recreation (Fort Mason and Chrissy Field), proximity to the water (Marina Harbor), and iconic San Francisco landmarks (the Palace of Fine Arts). Residences in the Marina flats and facing the coast on Marina Blvd represent some of the most expensive real estate in the Bay Area. While the Marina skews a bit younger, this is definitely an area that is worth checking out if you are looking to maximize everything that San Francisco has to offer.

Highlights

  • Fort Mason Park
  • Chrissy Field
  • Palace of Fine Arts
  • Moscone Park
  • Marina Green
  • Lyon Street Steps

  • Causwells
  • A16 Italian
  • Izzy’s Steakhouse
  • Ace Wasabi
  • Rose’s Cafe

  • Marina Submarine
  • Perry’s on Union
  • Shake Shack
  • Mauna Loa Club
  • Balboa Cafe

The Presidio

Located just west of the Marina is the Presidio, which has its roots as a military base during the 20th century war time era (and was originally a Spanish fort founded in 1776). The Presidio is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is administered by a partnership with the National Park space, so most housing is rental properties that were former army barracks and officer housing. The Presidio is great for hiking, bike rides, and long (but challenging) walks given its hilly terrain.

Highlights

  • Presidio Main Post
  • The Walt Disney Museum
  • Lovers Lane

  • Presidio Golf Course
  • Baker Beach

Presidio Heights

By lot size and square footage, Presidio Heights has some of the largest single family residences in all of San Francisco. This area is characterized by having a highly affluent population base and offers privacy and exclusivity that is unmatched in any other area of the city. Many of the embassies and consulates are located in Presidio Heights, which adds to the appeal of it being a destination for the area’s business and political elite.

Highlights

  • Jewish Community Center SF
  • Spruce restaurant
  • The Laurel Inn

Laurel Heights

A quaint and charming area located due west of the Presidio known to be very attractive to young families who are looking for a bit more space but don’t want to be pushed out to the outer reaches of the city. Laurel Heights is a very walkable neighborhood and is just a stone's throw away from nearby Golden Gate Park and the Clement Street corridor, a popular street known for its eclectic mix of ethnic cuisine and weekend farmers market.

Highlights

  • UCSF Laurel Heights Campus
  • Laurel Hill Playground

WEST

Pacific Heights

Arguably San Francisco’s most recognizable hillside neighborhood, Pacific Heights has some of the highest elevations in the area, offering Bay and Golden Gate Bridge views to the northeast and park and city views to the south. It is a large residential area offering a brand range of price points, from luxury single family homes to multi-family victorians to more moderately priced real estate in Lower Pac Heights, the southern end of the neighborhood. Fillmore Street runs north-south through Pacific Heights and offers everything from high end retail to live music, street festivals, and trendy restaurants. On a beautiful day, there is no better place to be than soaking up the sunshine at Alta Plaza Park and taking a leisurely stroll throughout the surrounding tree lined streets.

Highlights

  • Alta Plaza Park
  • Lafayette Park

  • Jackson Fillmore Trattoria
  • Pizzeria Delfina

  • Jane on Fillmore
  • Japan Town Plaza

NoPa

NoPa is short for ‘North of the Panhandle’ and it’s located exactly north of the stretch of park that is attached to Golden Gate Park and referred to as the Panhandle. The biggest benefit of this area is the close proximity to the beautiful Golden Gate Park district, offering year round recreation and the closest thing to New York’s Central Park this side of the Mississippi. Divisadero Street represents the eastern border of NoPa and it extends all the way up to the entrance of Golden Gate Park on Stanyan Street. Along the way you’ll find an abundance of quiet and quaint tree-lined street off-shoots from the park which have their own unique character and charm. NoPa is not to be overlooked especially if you value being close to the park.

Highlights

  • The Panhandle Park
  • Golden Gate Park
  • University of San Francisco
  • St. Mary’s Medical Center
  • Che Fico

  • 4505 Burgers & BBQ
  • Beretta
  • The Mill Cafe
  • Madrone Art Bar
  • Barrel Head Brewhouse

  • Karma Cafe
  • Manitas Cafe
  • Nopa restaurant
  • Nopalito

Cole Valley

On the opposite side of the panhandle from NoPa is Cole Valley, a small and quiet hillside community known to be socked in with a dense fog on spring and summer mornings. This is a mostly residential area that has a combination of flat streets running west to east and steep hills running north to south. It is highlighted by Buena Vista Park, a dense and forestlike park with a number of walking paths and steep trails that provide breathtaking views of the city. Cole Valley is also home to one of the more prestigious international (and private) schools in the area, the French American International School. The Upper Haight corridor runs through the heart of Cole Valley which is one of the more iconic streets in San Francisco.

Highlights

  • Buena Vista Park
  • The Page
  • Sightglass Coffee

  • French American International School
  • Jimi Hendrix Red House

Richmond District / Sea Cliff

Situated on the northern end of Golden Gate Park, the massive Richmond district extends from Arguello Blvd all the way toward the coast through 48 blocks until it meets the coast at the Great Highway. This mostly residential area is characterized by original construction, traditional Victorian homes. Given the proximity to the ocean, it is often known for having a dense layer of fog and clouds and rarely does it get extended periods of direct sun. This area is highlighted by the Sea Cliff neighborhood which is one of the most exclusive and affluent areas in the city consisting of detached single family homes and immediate access to the northern coast of San Francisco Bay. The Richmond also offers an incredible array of restaurants along Clement Street.

Highlights

  • Golden Gate Park
  • Lands End Lookout
  • Sutro Heights
  • China Beach

  • Lincoln Park Golf Course
  • Clement Street
  • Ocean Beach

  • de Young Museum
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Burma Superstar restaurant

Sunset District

The sunset is positioned on the south side of Golden Gate Park and it extends from Lincoln Way all the way down to Sloat / Skyline Blvd. Similar to the Richmond District, it is a huge, mostly residential area scattered with local grocery, restaurants, bars, and retail. It is known for having some of the best public schools in the area, most notably St. Ignatius High School, Abraham Lincoln High School, and Lowell High School which are in the Outer Sunset. To the far south of this area lies Stern Recreation Grove (a beautiful outdoor event venue), TPC Harding Park (which recently hosted the PGA Championship), Lake Merced Park, Fort Funston, The Olympic Club, San Francisco Golf Club, and San Francisco State University.

Highlights

  • Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company
  • Devil’s Teeth Baking Company
  • Andytown Coffee Roasters

  • Ocean Beach
  • Java Beach Cafe
  • Hook Fish

  • Sunset Reservoir
  • McCoppin Square

Success
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