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 Nick DeWilde.
Neighborhood: Telegraph Hill
Tell us something we don't know about Telegraph Hill: From street level it might seem like a sleepy neighborhood, but things change once you make it up to the roof to find the entire neighborhood out on their decks soaking in the view.
Also, lot of the local hot spots that are typically considered to be part of North Beach are actually under the jurisdiction of Telegraph Hill, including the raucous bars on Grant (Church Key, Grant & Green, etc.), not to mention the strip clubs that line Broadway.
Local customs of note: Tanning on the roof. Getting spied on by your neighbors. Giving directions to the confused pizza delivery guy. Complaining about your burning calves as you reach the top of a steep hill, only to look out over the bay and remark that there's no place on earth you'd rather live.
Hidden Gems: Aside from their specialty cocktails, 15 Romolo has one of the most underrated brunches in city. There's practically no wait, and they even start you off with complimentary "waffle shots." For Friday happy hour, Grumpy's is a local favorite, with crowds that get so big they spill into the street. Hidden away at the top of Montgomery and Union, ACRE/SF has a great selection of men's and women's clothing—and it doesn't hurt that they serve Blue Bottle coffee. If you're looking to catch the Bay Bridge lights or an early morning sunrise, try the Vallejo Street Steps, which also happen to be overflowing with every kind of flower and plant you could ever imagine.
Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy, why or why not? A lot of the people who live here have been in their same apartment for decades. They like their neighborhood quiet and their views free from obstruction. The Telegraph Hill Dwellers Association is known as one of the most powerful neighborhood groups in the city. They certainly aren't afraid to make life difficult for a developer proposing a new high-rise or a new neighbor trying to renovate their house. On the whole though, I've found the neighbors to be nice people who are passionate about preserving their beautiful slice of the city.
Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? Getting woken up by the famous parrots of Telegraph Hill gets old. I also wouldn't mind being able to make it home after a long day at work without being out of breath. Also, the spectrum of ages in the neighborhood can tend to lead to noise disputes. That said, it's a small price to pay for waking up to a perfect sunrise over the bay.
Final Word on Telegraph Hill: It's a lot more than just a tall tower and a flock of famous parrots. To truly get an appreciation you may need to be willing to sweat some stairs, but trust me, it's well worth the climb.