Each district in San Francisco has its charm and culture, we used some time to find the neighborhoods we wanted to stay at. Stayed at three, but visited many more. Some we liked more than others. The distances are not big, so it’s easy to get from one district to another within a 20 minutes walk. We also felt quite safe all the places we were. So where to stay, eat, drink and shop. First stay was Castro for about a week and then moved to Lower Pacific Heights for some nights, then lastly in City center. Here are the districts we think are worth mentioning and good places for food & drink.
Castro embodies the San Francisco vibe, it’s vibrant, colorful and the gay capital of the world….or at least San Francisco. There is a village feel to this place except for the part on the way to Mission station. It dirty and kinda trashy. There’s easy access to city center with the cool vintage street cars (trams). Castro has many cafes and restaurants, we usually had our healthy breakfast at Reveille Coffee ,the sinful breakfast at the “famous” diner – Ophan Andy’s and delicious quick dishes at Saucy Asian. Would we stay at Castro again, yes, but no more than a couple of days. It’s nice but not modern enough for our taste.
Electric Financial district
The high paced and energetic neighbourhood where the skycrapers are tall enough to get the metropolitan feeling, but low enough to feel spacious. Many well known international corporations have their headquaters here. It is packed with lunch spots that are more expensive than all the other neighbourhoods we were at. The Financial district is close to Union square – where you will find all the luxury brand stores. If you are looking for a cosy area it will best to visit the other districts outside the city center. We did find a haven for a timeout. Would we stay in this neighbourhood – No more than a couple of days.
Trendy Hayes Valley
Once a slum is now one of the trendiest areas in San Francisco. This quickly became one of our favorite areas and we spent some time here for dinner and drinks. This is the area you come to when you want feel diversity vibe, niche boutiques, concept cafes and restaurants, galleries, antique shops and vintage stores. It is small, cosy and there is always a fun store or café around the corner and in the side streets. The vibe here is young and vibrant. We found our favorite eating spots, Paxti’s – fantastic pizza, Papito Hayes – superb quesadillas, Salt & Straw for handmade insane ice cream and Anina for great drinks and outdoor seating. Would we stay at Hayes Valley – Yes indeed we would.
Hippie Haight- Ashbury
The birthplace of the hippie movement and a colorful area in literal and figurative sense. The vibe here is laid back and gotta admit there are some dodgy areas. Walk along Haight-street and there are lots of cafes and niche hippish stores.
People are quite open in this area, each place we went people were delighted to chat and share their life stories. One store worker for instance was extremely passionate and aired her frustration over the government taking all her money in taxes, when she should be using it on her weed. Haight street leads to Buena Vista park…were we had a cosy walk in the beautiful park with a view. Would we stay in Haight Ashbury, NO, would we visit again, maybe. But it was fun checking out this famous and historic neigbourhood.
Poshy Lower Pacific Heights
Lower Pacific Heights is what you get when you mix posh with urban. What we liked about this neighbourhood is the quick access to a Alta Plaza park with an amazing view of the bay area. In this neighbourhood great restaurants, upscale shops and cafes are lined up. We had the best gourmet burgers at Roam Artisan Burgers organic ingredients from local farmers.
The best breakfast we had at Sweet Maple, with their notorious Millionaire’s Bacon consisting of a thick slice of bacon covered in sugar and cayenne pepper slow-cooked in an oven. Spicy, sweet and greasy, simply addictive. There tends to be a massive queue at Sweet Maple, but you can dodge it if you go really early in the morning. A perfect place to chill and get your coffee fix is at Blue Bottle Coffee in Pacific Heights.
At the hill tops of Pacific Heights you will find where old money meet tech money. There are some insane mansions in this area and the Billionaire’s Row, where the mansions just gets more fabulous. Would we stay here again – YES. Lower pacific Heights is a favorite.
Areas to avoid
We never felt unsafe no matter where we went, but there were areas we did feel uncomfortable at, like Tenderloin in town center, South of market, Civic center and north part of Mission. If wanting to stay in town center – Nob hill is a good bet,