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West Portal

March 7th, 2022 BY CHRIS COLE

West Portal is the last major Muni station before the K, L, and M lines branch off in different directions. This small commercial district, encircled by residential neighborhoods and extending only to St. Francis Circle, is in fact an urban village full of hidden gems. It remains one of my favorite hubs in the city. While a few chain stores have encroached, you’ll find a plethora of restaurants and boutiques, some of which have been around for generations.

Anyone who loves to read knows that, like independent movie theaters, our local bookstores are in danger. swing by Bookshop West Portal for a wide variety of books, as well as posters, literary-themed tote bags, and other knickknacks. On top of being a quality bookstore, it hosts events, has a weekly book club.

The music store is a used record store and is a goldmine for those seeking cheap CDs, records, cassette tapes, or posters, and every so often the owner invites a local musician to play.

Ambassador Toys is wonderland for children and emotionally arrested adults alike! Come here to buy unique toys for the youngsters in your life, cram your mouth with gumballs from the quarter machine, or just take in the atmosphere of an independent toy store — more of a rarity these days than one might think. Ambassador Toys was named the “Best Toy Store You Wish Had Been Around When You Were a Kid” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and it’s been a neighborhood staple for almost 20 years, so you can expect quality.

After all this shopping, you’ll probably need something to eat. Luckily, the restaurants on West Portal are just as great as the shops.

No neighborhood is complete without a good pizzeria, and on West Portal you’ll find two. Mozzarella di Bufala is a long-standing institution, which opened in 1992 and continues to thrive in the community. A warm, inviting sit-down restaurant, you won’t leave disappointed and its excellent New York–style pizza and Twin Peaks Pizza.

Calibur is a great place for all grass-fed beef delicious burgers, fries and shakes. There is also Squat and Gobble and Bullshead.

Trattoria da Vittorio for Calabrian-inspired pizzas & handmade pastas star at this cozy eatery with brick & stone accents.

Franco’s Latin Table is a popular, casual restaurant offering inventive takes on Peruvian classics like ceviche.

West Portal Produce and Eezy Freezy

Want to save some money and make your own dinner? West Portal Produce has a thorough selection of fruits and vegetables, cheaper than anything in a chain supermarket, and you can get everything else at Eezy Freezy. Its many offerings include a large spice rack, an aisle of gourmet chocolate, and various snacks from all over the world.

With four streetcar lines serving the neighborhood, it’s easy to seek out excitement elsewhere, but I always feel comforted passing through this tucked-away community. It’s a place where the familiarity and coziness of a small town blends perfectly with San Francisco’s vibrant urban life, a place that feels like home.

Bernal Heights


Although Bernal Heights has become increasingly well known for its real estate, few understand the excellent and distinctive quality of life for which the landmark hill is both a center and a beacon. Beginning on the southern edge of Cesar Chavez and extending to Bayshore Boulevard in the east and Alemany Boulevard in the south, the neighborhood also includes an irregular tranche of flatland to the west, encompassing a vital district of restaurants and other businesses along Mission Street. Those who ascend the hill are rewarded by a placid main street of restaurants, shops, and cafes; a panorama of sweeping views across the city; as well as a truly unique neighborhood character.


Bernal Heights Homes For Sale

Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights is host to several parks, three of which are are central to its neighborhood identity. Just one block south of Cesar Chavez, Precita Park feels like an especially serene extension of the Inner Mission. On any given day, dog owners exercise their pets along its three blocks of lawn and children enjoy its gated playground and butterfly garden. Due south five blocks from Precita Park (and nearly 400 feet above it) is Bernal Heights Park, with its stunning views looking north over the city and its trails ambling around rock outcroppings and through fields of tall grass. Continuing on to the southern edge of the neighborhood, we come to St. Mary’€™s Park, which features a large playground, as well as public tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts; a dog play area; and Alemany Farm, San Francisco’s largest urban garden. Bernal Heights also has several mini parks and community gardens, which contribute substantially to the neighborhood’€™s character, though one in particular bears mention here: the Esmerelda Street Slides. Created and maintained through a resident initiative, this pair of 42-foot-long chutes attests to the community’€™s sense of pride, as well as its joie de vivre.

Where dining is concerned, there are several excellent options along the aforementioned stretch of Mission Street at the foot of the hill, though the businesses along Cortland Avenue, near its top, have a special charm. This quiet little strip is host to reliably good sushi, Italian, and New American restaurants, as well as bakeries, cafes, and a couple of inviting bars, one a decades-old center of the local LGBTQ community. Further notable social centers on Cortland Avenue include Progressive Grounds cafe and the Bernal Heights branch of the San Francisco Public Library, the latter in a beautiful Works Progress Administration building. The Good Life Grocery Store is well stocked for weekly shopping, though you will also want to visit the lively and surprisingly well-priced Alemany Farmers Market, next to St. Mary’€™s Park, on Saturday mornings. The Sunday flea market on this same site is also refreshingly off the beaten path. Unfamiliar to most, slightly unconventional, and undeniably worthwhile, these weekend markets are Bernal Heights in a nutshell.

The iconic Bernal Hill is at the center of Bernal Heights and is adored by locals as a great place for walking, running, visiting with neighbors, taking your dog for a long walk or for tourists its a amazing location for sight seeing and photography. There are several other parks in Bernal Heights, the most popular is Precita Park on the north side and Holly Park to the south.

You can visit Precita Park’s Facebook page for more information.

Bernal Heights

There are thousands of amazing views in Bernal, this is another one of my favorites



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Pacific Heights


This elegant neighborhood embodies Hollywood’s vision of San Francisco, and its blocks of Victorian mansions and its Breath taking views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge make the area a perennial favorite with visitors to the city. San Francisco locals tend to be a bit more cynical about the exclusive air of Pacific Heights, but that doesn’t mean you won’t catch residents of other neighborhoods making a special trip for the eclectic, upscale shopping opportunities that Fillmore Street offers.

The neighborhood is loosely bordered by Van Ness and Presidio avenues and Pine and Vallejo streets and was first colonized by the nouveau riche of the late 1800s when the construction of a new cable-car line made the area accessible. The extravagant dwellings that characterize the district today stand as testimony to the desire of those early residents to impress their Nob Hill neighbors.

That legacy of luxury has persisted, and the neighborhood remains generally quiet and residential, with the majority of its activity clustered around Fillmore Street. For the most part, the activity of choice is shopping, with an emphasis on costly women’s clothing and high-stakes luxury items. The strip is also peppered with nice gift boutiques, bath-and-body shops and consignment stores. Fabulous restaurants, local coffee shops and bars warm up the neighborhood where I have always found the local residents to be delightful.

Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights Real Estate

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The Castro


The Castro district is a world-renowned neighborhood that played an integral part in the modern gay rights movement.

castro theatre

While the San Francisco multiple listing service refers to the neighborhood as “Eureka Valley”, the world knows and loves it as The Castro, the heart of San Francisco. The Castro district offers a diverse mix of homes for sale, with a wide variety of home styles and property types from large single family Victorians to modern condos and tenancies-in-common. Multi-Unit buildings and small apartment buildings are also found in the neighborhood along the commercial corridors.

Homes for sale in this real estate sub-district are bounded roughly by Market street to the north and west sides, 22nd street to the south, and Valencia and Church streets to the east. Both Castro and Market streets are home to numerous shops, restaurants, and both straight and gay bars.

Serviced by the 24, and 37 bus lines, the area is served by two muni subway stations, as well as the F-line with it’s collection of historic streetcars. Homes for sale in the Castro district often have a rich history, as the area was a predominantly working class Irish neighborhood before being gentrified by gay men in the 1970s. It was the epicenter of the gay rights revolution that began in the 1970′s, led by pioneers such as Harvey Milk (a neighborhood school carries his name today).

Today, the neighborhood is undergoing another transition as the long-standing gay community welcomes young families to the increasingly diverse neighborhood. On the eastern end, coveted Liberty Hill offers tremendous views and one-of-a-kind residences. Located centrally with downtown access via Muni streetcar and freeway access just off of Market Street, the hard-to-resist neighborhood is also graced with a wide variety of architectural styles and property types — including many pre-Quake Victorians.

A celebratory attitude often reigns, as each year the streets come alive during the Castro Street Fair and Pride Week. Venture up the hills and you’ll find quieter streets lined with charming, well-kept homes. Locals love to take advantage of many hidden mini-parks like Kite Hill, and the Seward Street slides.

People from all walks of life travel worldwide to the Castro and many fall in love with the central location, good weather, and sense of community.

We are proud to call the Castro District home, our offices are located at 2355 Market Street at Castro street.

Visit our office Facebook page at:

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Potrero Hill


On Potrero Hill, you can relax in brilliant sunshine while watching fog engulf the rest of the city. Bounded roughly by 16th, Third and Cesar Chavez streets and Potrero Avenue, the neighborhood is relatively isolated by freeways and large tracts of industrial landscape, giving Potrero Hill its own pace and a feeling of distance from “San Francisco.”

top view in potrero

The neighborhood’s origins extend back at least to an 1835 land grant to Don Francisco de Haro to graze Mission Dolores’s cattle at the potrero nuevo (“new pasture”). Gold rush squatters started pushing the herd aside and began the first of many waves of urbanization and immigration: Scots in the 1860s, then Irish, Chinese, Russians, Mexicans and finally African-American Southerners in the 1940s, building battleships at the bustling wartime shipyards.

While families lived on the hill, flatland manufacturing by firms like U.S. Steel, the Union Iron Works, the Western Sugar Refinery, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co. and American Can Co., among others, ensured that the area remained largely industrial through most of the 20th century. But a combination of deindustrialization and the late-1990s Internet boom began driving the conversion of factories and warehouses into housing or offices.

New office construction continues on the north side, while condos rise on the hill’s eastern and southern edges, particularly in Dogpatch, the name given to the Third Street corridor between 16th and Cesar Chavez. Largely zoned for heavy industrial use, Dogpatch doesn’t have much going on past quitting time.

One part of Potrero Hill that has changed dramatically is the Safeway shopping complex along 16th Street, between Bryant and Potrero streets. From 1931 to 1959, this was the site of Seals Stadium, an 18,600-capacity venue that hosted the San Francisco Seals and the Missions of the Pacific Coast League. When the then-New York Giants arrived in San Francisco, they played the 1958 and 1959 seasons at Seals Stadium while Candlestick Park was being built.

Potrero Hill’s primary shopping drag is on 18th Street, between Connecticut and Texas streets, along which you’ll see fewer strollers — and fewer weirder dogs — than in already-gentrified neighborhoods like the Inner Sunset and Noe Valley. In spite of increasing yuppiness, 18th Street remains come-as-you-are.

The hill is also where O.J. Simpson grew up, and, as a result, even though Simpson never visited the area much after becoming famous, the hill has the nation’s densest remaining concentration of O.J. Simpson murals. One, on Connecticut at 17th Street, shows the former football great in his uniform, with later spray-painted details like blue devil horns. The other is at the Potrero Hill Recreation Center (see below).

The residential streets are unusually clean for San Francisco, and every house seems to have a small garden, flower box or tree planted out front. This tradition goes back a ways; witness a September 1963 Sunset magazine article in which Hill denizens, clad in jeans and Jackie Kennedy clam-diggers, landscape the twistiest stretch of Vermont Street. They hope against hope that the growing leptosporum will “one day hide the nearby freeway and its eight lanes of around-the-clock traffic.” The city donated irrigation water, a neighborhood group coughed up labor and cash for two new water meters and someone threaded all the irrigation pipe in his own machine shop — evidence of a level of neighborly cooperation that continues today.

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Noe Valley


Noe Valley is a neighborhood of contradictions. It’s home to both liberals and conservatives, it has attracted the working class, millionaires, Hollywood film crews (“Sister Act,” “Nash Bridges”), and, in the 1970s, followers of controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Recent problems with storefront vandalism stand in sharp contrast to Noe’s clean-cut image and the fact that it’s chock full of upscale restaurants, home-decor boutiques, and chic clothing shops. Since the boom began waning, housing prices have dipped slightly and there has been some turnover on the main shopping drag, but it remains a prosperous, shopper-friendly neighborhood whose bistros, coffee shops, and bookstores are always lively, and where parking is always at a premium.

The hills that surround Noe Valley give it an air of remoteness and removal from the city which, along with the plethora of pretty, long-standing Victorians, is what attracts families with kids, dogs and strollers to the neighborhood. This, in turn, has attracted merchants who cater to those looking for handmade Guatemalan textile products, upscale beauty products, or Eileen Fisher ensembles.

Some residents have grumbled that Noe Valley has become a great place to have coffee and a bagel but a terrible place to buy what you actually need if you’re lucky enough to live there. Others joke about Noe Valley’s mammoth stroller population and bourgeois sensibilities; columnist Debby Morse once quipped in the Examiner, “Many Noe Valley walkers push babies in strollers, often using them as battering rams in crowded situations.”

Noe Valley

One thing’s for sure — Noe Valleyans enjoy their neighborhood — especially on weekends, if the dense foot traffic on 24th Street is any indication.

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Mission Dolores


Stroll along the Mission’s wide avenues and you’ll be struck by the profusion of taquerias, pupuserias, produce markets, Salvadoran bakeries, salon de bellezas (beauty salons), auto-repair shops and check-cashing centers that post rates for wiring money to Guatemala and Nicaragua — all evidence of the Central American and Mexican families that have been settling the Mission en masse since the 1950s.

plenty of houses

You’ll also notice plenty of cafés, thrift shops and used-book stores that cater to the college grads, artists, activists and other alterna-types that have historically been drawn to the Mission.

The Internet boom brought on heavy gentrification — trendy restaurants and boutiques blazed in, rents shot up and many Latinos and artists were displaced by the influx of highly paid young professionals. Today, there’s an interesting mix of places that survived the changes and new arrivals that are trying to make the Mission home.


Whether you’re looking to take in the newer, locally-owned stores and cafes or get a taste of the neighborhood’s history and Latin culture, the area is crawling with things to see and do. We’ve broken it down into four areas. While the flavor of the neighborhood changes subtly from block to block, bear in mind that these areas are contiguous and you can easily walk from one to the other. Generally speaking, the 24th Street area is the culturally rich heart of the Mission, the stretch from Dolores Street through to Valencia Street is young and upscale, the area around 16th and Valencia streets hops with nightlife and the industrial area near Bryant Street has some hip, trendy restaurants.

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Glen Park


Glen Park is one of the southernmost neighborhoods in San Francisco but it is, just south of Noe Valley. Depending on where you are in this lovely San Francisco neighborhood, you may have spectacular views of either the Southern Hills to the south or the downtown skyline to the north.

The majority of homes in Glen Park are single family homes, with a wide range of styles. Early on small cottages built for the working class. Then during the 1910s and 1920s when the narrow streets of Glen Park were augmented with larger Arts and Crafts and Mission, Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival dwellings. New residents, some of whom were more affluent, constructed larger two-story Arts and Crafts residences on some of the remaining, undeveloped parcels, such as the attractive dwelling at 2 Van Buren Street. This house is archetypal of the Arts and Crafts style with exposed rafter ends, struts and distinctive double-hung windows that have multi-paned upper sashes. Some speculators purchased frontages of 100 or 150 feet, and they constructed rows of Arts and Crafts style residences. One of the largest clusters is a row of houses with identical floor plans built around 1919 on the south side of the 700th block of Chenery Street.

coffee glen park

The Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival styles were also popular in Glen Park during the late 1910s and 1920s. As Glen Park’s business district expanded east along Chenery and south along Diamond during this period, several large Mission Revival style commercial buildings were erected, including the finely detailed structure at 666-668 Chenery. This building is a particularly fine example of the Mission Revival style, with its sculpted parapet roof, Spanish tile roof cladding and wrought iron balconies. Several dozen Mediterranean Revival dwellings were constructed as well. An excellent example is the dwelling at 46-48 Wilder, with its Moorish corner turret, Spanish tile roof and decorative tile work. The decade of the 1920s witnessed the largest amount of construction in Glen Park, including the neighborhood’s first large apartment house, a seven-unit building at 201 Roanoke Street. although you do have some condominiums in smaller buildings, Most homes are on 25′ wide lots (like much of San Francisco), usually touching the homes they are adjacent to. The success of Glen Park in attracting new residents has been a major factor in its increasing lack of affordability.

The neighborhood’s attractiveness, combined with its location on Interstate 280, has made it a popular destination for well-paid high technology professionals in the South Bay who want to live in San Francisco. This group pushed the housing prices even further during the 1990s, making it well nigh impossible for working and middle-class residents to buy homes in Glen Park. While Glen Park has slowly evolved from a humble yet picturesque working-class community into the increasingly affluent community that we see today, the author hopes that it manages to retain its distinctive characteristics defined by small cottages, lushly landscaped yards, towering eucalyptus groves and a cozy village-like atmosphere.

Shopping options are somewhat limited, if you are close to the commercial hub (centered around Diamond and Chenery, you will have a few options, but the hills and relative scarcity of neighborhood stores makes it harder to live without a car.

Transit Options are fantastic thanks to the Glen Park BART station, and there is also an I-280 freeway interchange on the edge of the neighborhood, making the commute from San Francisco to Silicon Valley a (relative) breeze. Glen Park Recreation Center, Park and Canyon are incredibly popular outdoor spots. The Park has an outdoor playground, tennis courts, and a baseball field. The recreation center offers community meeting space and a basketball court. The canyon offers miles of trail walks, and is incredibly popular with dog owners and nature lovers throughout the city.

The weather in this neighborhood has a reputation for being fairly sunny, although fog does creep in to the district more often than some of the other central neighborhoods.

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