The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour of neighborhoods, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, San Francisco celebrities, 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 Anderson Pugash, owner of Palm House and The Dorian in the Marina, as well as SOMA-based nightclub Audio San Francisco and cocktail/eatery Bergerac San Francisco. Let's find out what he has to say about the Marina.
How long have you lived in the Marina?
What's the neighborhood housing stock like?
The marina has an amalgamation of housing types ranging from funky low-rise apartments to spiffed-up ultra modern single-family homes. It is predominantly comprised of housing stock built in the 1920’s with heavy art-nouveau architectural influences, especially in the large apartment buildings. There’s also some really impressive single family homes, especially on Marina boulevard and around the Palace of Fine Arts.
Better for buyers or renters or both?
I’m not sure I would say anywhere in the city is good for buyers or renters right now. If I had to choose, I would say its better for renters because a) most of the housing stock is old, which means tenants are protected by rent control and b) if there’s an earthquake, you’ll be glad you weren’t an owner.
Do you need a car to get around?
It's better not to have a car; it’s a great place to walk around with lots of fresh air and things to do. Trying to find parking will raise your blood pressure.
Most reliable public transit
If you go by the narrow definition of reliability, I would say the Marin Airporter which stops on Lombard street. I’ve used the 30x, the 22 and the 41 and they are all okay although sometimes the 30 gets so crowded you can’t board. I heard they are adding more busses to the line.
Nearest grocery store (and why you like it)qq
Marina Supermarket is the best grocery store in the area. It is independently-owned and fits the neighborhood. It has great produce, friendly staff, and really good pre-made meals, which are convenient for those of us who are short on time for cooking.
Good for kids?
I think so. There’s a lot of places to go outdoors, which is rare in many cities and I think playing outside is an important part of childhood. Crissy Field, The Presidio, the Fort Mason lawn, and Moscone Park are all within walking distance of each other. A lot of homes have backyards too.
It feels like half of the San Francisco Giants live out here and surprising to many there are actually quite a few artists as well. The international DJ and house music producer Viceroy lives out here.
Best place to get a coffee:
La Marais Bakery, because you can also crush a pastry while you’re there and the Americano is awesome.
Moscone Park is a pretty cool part of the neighborhood. What it lacks for in size and nature it makes up for in activities for the community. Its home to a lot of sports activities, with tennis courts, baseball fields, golf cages, putting green, playground and community center it is really great for a wide range of residents.
Beloved neighborhood joint:
I’m a huge fan of the Japanese restaurant Umami on Webster and Union. The food is awesome and fresh, and long ago I helped sand and stain the tables among other odd jobs for the pre-opening while I interned for the restaurant group that owns it. (They have some other great restaurants in the neighborhood too, like Mamacita and Tipsy Pig.)
Best-kept secret in the Marina?
Brazenhead is a small neighborhood restaurant that only locals know about. It’s easy to miss, tucked away on a side street with no signage, and stepping in feels like you stumbled on someone’s secret hideaway. The dimly lit, old-school vibe melds perfectly with its classic fare—onion soup, pepper steak and garlic bread and other dishes of that ilk. Since its one of the few places that serves food till 1 am, it attracts a lot of the bar and restaurant industry, so it’s a great place to meet some new characters.
The Marina is San Francisco’s favorite punching bag for resident stereotypes. I won’t go into them all but the most infamous of these is the much maligned "Marina bro." These are your former high school athletes, replete with popped collar, short shorts, pompous haircuts, and a mysterious inability to converse at anything less than shouting volume.
Are the stereotypes true?
Yes. I don’t know if I should admit this publicly, but I am friends with some of them. One of them is among my best friends and he’s nicknamed the "Wildcard." He once placed fifth in the annual Mr. Marina competition.
Most common sight:
Lululemons, cold-pressed juice, very small dogs.
Stay away from:
Where are the best places to chill and/or experience the outdoors?
Crissy Field is an amazing place to be on a warm day. It has stunning views of the golden gate bridge, sailboats and Alcatraz along with a great beach to relax on. If you follow the path towards the Golden Gate, they also have barbecues you can use, so it’s good spot for getting people together.
Who wouldn't be happy here?
Piece of neighborhood lore:
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was held in the Marina in 1915 as a celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal and as an ostentatious effort to prove that San Francisco had recovered from the earthquake of 1906. The event covered over 635 acres and displayed numerous wonders of the time, ranging from the first steam locomotive to a telephone line connected with New York that allowed east-coasters to listen to the Pacific Ocean. The buildings were not designed to last, and after the affair ended, the land was sold to a developer and turned into residences. Today the Palace of Fine Arts is the most recognizable remnant left behind.
Describe your 'hood in one sentence:
Don’t knock it till you try it.
The Marina [Curbed SF]