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Industry experts and SF notables reveal their favorite neighborhoods in 2018

From North Beach to the Outer Sunset

Mission Bay.
Photo by Patricia Chang

While San Francisco’s newest neighborhood didn’t get any love this year from our gaggle of notables and experts—perhaps this had something to do with it?—some of the city’s other nascent ’hoods did see a tip of the hat, including the unfairly maligned Mission Bay neighborhood.

Places like North Beach, the finger-snapping beatnik joint of yore; the Castro, the country’s queer mecca; and the Outer Sunset, the westside’s sleepy village poised for a major growth spurt, also received adoration.

But two of Curbed SF’s favorites—Sherwood Forest and Presidio Heights, two tony yet off-the-radar neighborhoods—didn’t make this year’s cut, either. (To which we say, pish posh.)

To take a look at the year that was, we asked a handful of people in real estate, urban planning, media, architecture, and transit to offer their thoughts. Here are their favorite SF stomping grounds in 2018.


Beth Spotswood (digital editor, Alta Magazine; columnist, San Francisco Chronicle):

“I rediscovered the glory of the Outer Sunset this year, having finally shaken the teenage trauma of having attended high school in that fog bank of a neighborhood. The funky little shops (including my friends’ spot Avenues Dry Goods), the ocean breeze, and that lack of noticeable millionaires was refreshing in 2018—despite the anxiety the Outer Sunset caused me in 1995.”

Jon de la Cruz (interior architecture and design, DLC-ID):

“The Dogpatch. Even during continued development, the neighborhood and its denizens still retain a lot of original SF flavor.”

The Castro.
Photo by Patricia Chang
Brian Wiedenmeier (executive director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition):

“The Castro.”

Allison Arieff (columnist, New York Times):

“Never thought I’d say this—Mission Bay. Though the pedestrian experience is not perfect, what was once a veritable ghost town is really coming together. It’s even got a super market—Gus’ Market is opening there this month. My 80-year-old dad moved there recently and he can do everything he needs to without a car, which should really be the goal of all SF neighborhoods. There’s affordable housing there and some nice solid multifamily residential architecture. Just wish those buildings were taller and that transit would expand in line with the growing population there, especially after the Warriors stadium opens.”

Outer Sunset.
Outer Sunset.
Photo by dorinser/Shutterstock
Richie Nakano (restaurant consultant):

“Someone recently told me that I don’t live in the Outer Sunset, that I actually live in Parkside (?)—so I guess Parkside. Why the hell is it called Parkside and not Lake Merced Heights or something?”

Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties):

While not yet done, the Mission Bay/Central Waterfront/Dogpatch/Pier 70 mega corridor is pretty inspiring. It shows you what joining aspirations of greatness and piles of money can do. Sure, it’s driving up building costs in the rest of the city by causing a labor shortage of skilled trades people—and is not really addressing the housing crisis, either—but it’s still a hotbed of activity and a spectacle to behold. Whether it turns out to be a neighborhood we fell in love with or broke up with in next year’s remains to be seen.

Laura Foote (executive director, YIMBY Action):

“I moved to North Beach this year and I love it. Much of it was built before we had zoning that emphasized coherent ‘neighborhood character’ and the hodgepodge of building heights is breathtaking. Striking towers rise on the hillside, and the medley feels so dramatic on evening walks.”

Lower Haight.
Lower Haight.
Photo by Brandon Doren
Mike Isaac (technology reporter, New York Times):

“Big fan of Lower Haight. Lot of stuff going on over there—great food, bars, tattoo parlors—and it feels more vibrant compared to the other end of the Haight, especially since many shops on Upper Haight are turning over and some mainstays are going out of business.

It’s also a stone’s throw from my ’hood, Duboce Triangle.

Though I’d say it almost ties with Japantown/Fillmore, where I’ve been spending more time lately. It’s awesome to be able to grab a hot steamed meat bun or some berry and red bean mochi on a stick from the Japan Center mini mall with all the amazing shops off of Geary and Fillmore. I’ve lived in the Bay Area since 2004 (with a two-year stint in NYC and some other minor six- to nine-month residencies), and feel like I’m still discovering new stuff every year.”

North Beach.
Photo by jejim/Shutterstock
Joe Eskenazi (managing editor and columnist, Mission Local) and Julian Mark (reporter, Mission Local):

“For the purposes of this survey, we’re going to keep everything (ahem) Mission Local.”

Mike Chino (senior editor, Dwell):

“I’ve really enjoyed sinking into North Beach since I started working in the area. There are touristy elements, and the area is changing (like everywhere else), but it still feels like a vibrant, livable neighborhood with deep history and a host of historic institutions that are alive and well.”

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