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Curbed Cup 1st Round: Bernal Heights (6) vs. Castro (11)

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Which neighborhood should advance to the second round?

Bernal Hill and the homes on it. Photo by Todd Lappin

Bernal Heights

O what has become of Bernal. It used to be so simple, so lackadaisical. A compost pile here. A feather-strewn dreamcatcher there. A once oft-overlooked neighborhood that housed many a former hippie (many of whom are now clandestine million-dollar property owners) has turned into one of the coolest, priciest, and contentious neighborhoods of 2016.

For starters, over the last few years, it unofficially brexited off part of itself with the advent of La Lengua. And the SFPD-related killing of Alex Nieto, who was shot and killed by police in Bernal Heights Park in 2014, still runs deep in the neighborhood and beyond. The civil trial began in March.

Bernal did have a few choice openings this year: El Buen Comer, Old Devil Moon, and Barebottle Brew Company, just to name a few. It still has one of the best bars in the world. Some of the friendliest folks in the city. A cool new street. And Bernal Park remains one of the best places to take your pooch on the weekend. It also has one of the city’s few remaining neighborhood blogs, Bernalwood, proving that community vibe here is strong. We can’t wait to see what this hood has in store for 2017.

Men and women at a protest with rainbow flags on Castro Street Photo via Shutterstock


Few neighborhoods continue to evoke the entirety of San Francisco the way the Castro does. After all, this is where hundreds of thousands of queer ilk flock to each year, either to plant roots or party all night long. For many people, the Castro is San Francisco. But, like Bernal Heights, it’s also changing.

Home and rent prices are officially inaccessible in this neighborhood, especially to any young LGBT émigré looking for a safe space to call home. That said, the neighborhood’s pro-development output will help to bring prices down. But the trend of rebranding the neighborhood “Eureka Valley” will continue to raise eyebrows.

While the food scene has more or less skipped over the Castro (save for Frances and a smattering of others), the artisan cafe trend has made its mark. And how. The hood is also a place that still hosts protests and vigils. This year saw the return of cameras for the filming of When We Rise. Scott Wiener, the Castro’s supervisor, advanced to state senator; 2017 should prove interesting within wonk circles. And finally, you can’t forget their Muni station’s adorable new escalator rainbow lights.

The decision is in your hands: Which area should advance? Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win. Remember, polls close in 24 hours.