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Michael Conrad Tells Us About Russian Hill

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The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This time around, we welcome Michael Conrad.

[Photo via Michael Conrad]
Neighborhood: Russian Hill

Tell us something we don't know about Russian Hill: You've probably confused it for other 'hoods. It borders the Marina, Cow Hollow, North Beach and Nob Hill, which are better known. Parts of Upper-Polk Street and Columbus Street are actually in Russian Hill.

Local customs of note: Giving directions to tourists looking for Lombard Street. Giving directions to taxi drivers that do not know half the local streets are not continuous. Playing tennis and basketball at Alice Marble where the views are incredible. Being treated to incredible views while endlessly looking for parking.

Hidden Gems: Jonah's on Hyde Street makes great sandwiches. They have had a few management changes over the years, but the current one is doing things right. Zarzuela is a great place to have sangria and tapas, but plan to wait for a table. Allegre Romano on the top of the hill does great Italian. Frascati is one of my favorite and most consistent restaurants in the city. The walking paths/parks that exist where Vallejo and Green Streets are too steep provide great views and shortcuts, but they are, of course, very steep.

Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy, why or why not? Russian hill neighbors are pretty great in my experience. The area is always really clean and stays quiet at night. I have been living here for 8 years, and have had almost no problems.

Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? Rents here are out of control. Unless you can sneak into a rent-controlled situation like I did, it's going to be really difficult. There are also 2 cable car lines going through the 'hood, so lots of buzzing, rumbling, and incessant bell-ringing. Parking here is the worst. Even by San Francisco standards it's difficult to find a spot after business hours. People who do find one often wait days, sometimes weeks, to move their vehicle since most areas do not have posted "street cleaning" signs.

The final word on Russian Hill: You've probably been here a lot and not even known it. It's a beautiful, mostly residential neighborhood adjacent to some of the most popular areas in the city. Walk around the hill awhile and you are treated to world-class views in every direction.