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Curbed Cup Elite Eight: (1) SoMa vs. (8) Excelsior

Which neighborhood should advance to the Final Four? Cast your vote now!

Photo by Todd A. Merport/Shutterstock

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, moves forward with the Elite Eight neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (albeit fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which hoods should advance. Let the eliminations begin!


No longer an industrial footnote below San Francisco’s main artery, South of Market (SoMa) saw such record-breaking moments as the topping off of Salesforce Tower (the city’s tallest skyscraper) and a $42 million penthouse hit the market. SoMa also made waves for new growth, especially along Folsom Street (most of it far too short, though), and for Transbay Terminal’s continued development. (Note: SFMOMA, the Metreon, and the Fourth Street Trader Joe’s are in a different hood, the Yerba Buena neighborhood, but surrounded by SoMa.)

Ayesha Curry’s International Smoke opened to fanfare this year, Target made plans to open a new storeon Folsom, and the 6x6 mall remains San Francisco’s biggest question mark.

With change also came heartbreak, like the continued erosion of the area’s queer community (although newly formed nightlife cooperative The Stud did its part to keep the leather and lace flowing freely), as well as the toppling of the Goodwill flagship. Most recently, Brainwash, a laundry and cafe/comedy club, shut its doors after 28 years.

But when it came to architecture, SoMa proved woefully underrated—Pinterest HQ and In Situ won 2017 AIA awards for their design, and new light shone upon old favorites like the U.S. Court of Appeals, a beaux-arts love letter to granite and marble.

Our No. 1 seed neighborhood will be hard to beat.

Photo by Athens Avalon Greenspace


Taking on one of San Francisco’s largest neighborhoods, the Excelsior benefits from still maintaining an old San Francisco feel to it. Which is to say, tech bros and Lululemon aficionados have yet to occupy the place. Here you will find families, working class mingling with the mildly well-to-do, restaurants and bars galore, and colorful circa 1920s homes.

You can even find the occasion detached home asking under $1 million. Gasp.

An eye on affordable housing took better shape here in 2017. Bridge Housing and National Electrical Benefits Fund submitted plans in December for a 426-unit mixed use/apartment complex on Mission Street.

Also of note, the Instagram-worthy Excelsior steps opened at the intersection of Athens Street and Avalon Avenue. Striking rainbow-hued mosaic steps leading up to where Athens Street turns into Valmar Terrace delighted many denizens. And above all, Excelsior is also home to Geneva Steak House, a corner staple since 1942, featuring red booths, mirrored walls, midcentury lanterns, and some of the best steak in the city.

While this neighborhood didn’t see too much action in 2017, it sits on the precipice of major change, for better or for worse.

The decision is in yours: Which area should to the Final Four? Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win!