Neighborhoods / Lower Pacific Heights

Lower Pacific Heights

In the middle of things

The six blocks of Fillmore Street between Geary and California are full of eclectic businesses and eateries, flying under the radar that is focused clearly on its high-profile neighbor to the north, Pacific Heights. Once known as “Upper Fillmore,” this neighborhood includes Japantown, home to charming shops, numerous ramen and sushi joints and the odd karaoke booth, and abuts a historic stretch of Fillmore Street once known as “The Harlem of the West.” Lower Pacific Heights is centrally located, a buzzing urban neighborhood teeming with landmarks of San Francisco’s recent history, like The Fillmore, and its past, like the Victorians on Cottage Row. Lower Pacific Heights is on the move, growing in prominence and popularity and always adapting to meet the needs of its long-time and newly-arrived residents.

Area Map

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Commute

Commuter Buses
Tech buses run down Van Ness Avenue on Lower Pacific Heights’ eastern edge, stopping at the Sacramento Street and Geary Boulevard intersections. The Apple bus also routes down Divisadero Street, stopping at the intersection of Divisadero and Geary.

SFMTA Light Rail
The MUNI Metro stop nearest to Lower Pacific Heights is at Market and Van Ness.

MUNI bus routes criss-cross Lower Pacific Heights. Running north-south are the 43 (Presidio Avenue), the 24 (Divisadero Street), the 22 (Fillmore Street) and the 49 and 47 (Van Ness Avenue); running east-west are the 1 (California Street), the 2 (Sutter Street) and the 38 (Geary Boulevard).

Nearest CalTrail Station
3rd and King Streets

Nearest BART
Civic Center Station

Estimated Commute Times
Financial District via auto: 15 minutes
Financial District on foot: 45 minutes
Financial District via transit: 25 minutes
South San Francisco via auto: 30 minutes
Silicon Valley via auto: 55 minutes

Around the Block

Who Lives Here
A mixture of people, due to the neighborhood’s in-between location and status; Lower Pac Heights is bordered on one side by Pacific Heights and on the other by the Western Addition and this once entry-level neighborhood has been gaining popularity among homebuyers since the 1980s.

People in the know
Lower Pacific Heights draws all kinds of locals, thanks to its proximity to downtown (multiple bus lines run north, south, east and west through the neighborhood), its exciting vibe and its many dining, shopping and entertainment options. The “typical” Lower Pac Heights resident is anything but “typical.” He or she might be a condo-dwelling Millenial or an old-time doyenne, ensconced in a Pine Street Victorian beauty. Families both young and old call Lower Pacific Heights home, and the presence of Japantown adds to the district’s diversity. This is not “almost Pacific Heights.” While Lower Pacific Heights is, thanks to its large percentage of rental properties, a somewhat transient place, many residents of this dynamic neighborhood wouldn’t live anywhere else. Some come to rent only to wind up purchasing property, all the better to stay local.

How They Live
Urbanity is the rule here, whether you dwell in a restored Victorian on Cottage Row or in an apartment building on Sutter Street. Residents walk, take buses, go out to dinner and live in small spaces.

Go go go
Lower Pacific Heights residents are an urban people; they’re busy and they live in small spaces (unless they’re restoring a Victorian). They consider neighboring green spaces like Alta Plaza Park treasures and sometimes get their exercise during open swim sessions at Hamilton Rec Center. Their idea of a good night out might be blues at the Boom Boom Room, rock and roll at The Fillmore or jazz at Yoshi’s, and they’re likely to be first in line at State Bird Provisions. They might catch a blockbuster at Sundance, but they just as likely are looking forward to the anime festival at New People. Life in Lower Pacific Heights is something to be grabbed onto and held like a bucking bronco. People here are okay with riding buses and walking; they revel in uncovering a true find at the Salvation Army store just as much as they like browsing the couture racks on Fillmore and know that, in the end, there’s nothing like Extreme Pizza takeout after a long day at work.

Housing Market
Lower Pacific Heights is shedding its rep as Pacific Heights’ underserved little brother. Victorians, Edwardians, large condominiums, they’re all gaining in popularity — and value.

A neighborhood whose transformation is complete
Once a reliably lower-middle-class neighborhood, Lower Pacific Heights began to transform during the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Lower Pacific Heights real estate occupies a unique spot in the San Francisco market, offering a brisk (and reasonably-priced, by local standards) condominium market and a much smaller (and much more high-end, by anyone’s standards) single-family home market. The few SFRs that come up for sale in Lower Pacific Heights are usually large Victorian homes that hit the market well north of $2 million. But fear not, potential homebuyers; Lower Pacific Heights also features one-, two- and three-bedroom condos and tenants-in-common units that can be had for much less. Over the second quarter of 2015, the average condo, townhouse and TIC in Lower Pacific Heights sold for around $1.2 million, with several properties changing hands for under $1 million. Whatever the size, shape or classification, properties in Lower Pacific Heights are edging up to the $1000/square foot level, which means that the transformation of this former working-class district is now complete.

What To Expect
A neighborhood dominated by two commercial strips: Fillmore Street, which runs through its center, and Divisadero, which runs along its western edge. “Convenience” is the watchword in Lower Pacific Heights. So is “condominium.”

A full life in the middle of everything
You’re here because you want to walk to work or take the bus. You’re okay with takeout tonight, because you didn’t have time to go to Molly Stone and stock up yet this week, or maybe, if there’s time, you can fit in some quick teriyaki at Glaze. This is life in Lower Pacific Heights. If you drive, you can expect to parallel park. If you take the bus, you can expect to spend less time waiting for the next 1 California than you would’ve spent looking for a parking spot. You live in Lower Pacific Heights because you don’t mind crowded sidewalks or lines to get into Delfina. maybe your apartment has no on-site laundry; that’s okay. There are laundromats nearby. There are plenty of places to live that will meet your needs for convenience; how many can meet your need to live a life that’s actually full of life?

What Not To Expect
Don’t expect lots of room to spread out. You’ll have to go to Pacific Heights for parks, and traffic is heavy on Geary Boulevard. Garages are at a premium and you’ll be carrying those groceries up a flight of stairs.

Convenient location doesn’t always mean convenient living
People who live in Lower Pacific Heights know the deal: in exchange for a wealth of options and opportunities, they trade what some might call “the easy life.” Parking spots here are at a premium; your apartment or condo might not have one and finding one on the street isn’t so easy. Nor are backyards a given, though the serenity of green space is never more than a few blocks away. Lower Pacific Heights is a place where the locals carry their bags several blocks home from the grocery store. They climb flights of stairs and when their hands are full, they hold their keys in their teeth until they get to the front door. You may have guessed by now that this neighborhood is the antithesis of suburbia; you are correct.

PERFECT FOR
Urbanites, open-minded music fans, J-pop enthusiasts, hill climbers, young professionals who like to walk home, believers in mass transit, San Francisco historians, handymen (and women) looking to tackle something big, like an unrestored Victorian home, for their next project, ramen enthusiasts, families looking for an urban experience, pedestrians.

NOT PERFECT FOR
Suburbanites, people who depend on their cars and don’t like to walk, those who want to come home to quiet serenity, anyone not eager to take advantage of a wealth of shopping, dining and entertainment options that are right outside their front door, those who want a large backyard, lovers of mid-century architecture (better to look in the western neighborhoods), anyone who thinks of Lower Pacific Heights as a lesser version of Pacific Heights.

You’ll Fall In Love With
The hustle and bustle of a true urban neighborhood, along with the convenience of one; shops, restaurants, movies are all nearby, and downtown is a short bus ride or brisk walk away.

You’ll love the constant hum of activity that makes Lower Pacific Heights the embodiment of a city neighborhood, something lacking from more genteel districts like neighboring Pacific Heights. You’ll love knowing that your favorite band is likely to be playing nearby, whether that band plays rock and roll, jazz or the blues, and that there are more than 50 restaurants in Japantown. And speaking of Japantown, you’ll love finding unique products there, be they Pokemon cards, high-end paper, travel books, Manga t-shirts, art and an almost unfathomable array of other items. You’ll love climbing Fillmore to its peak just to see the view of the bridge and the bay, settling in for happy hour at Harry’s Bar and circling the date of the Cherry Blossom Festival (usually in September), a Japantown must-do. You’ll love grocery shopping at Molly Stone’s and a spa day at International Orange and you’ll love looking out the window of your Edwardian flat, spending hours just watching people walk past.

Places to go

SPQR
SPQR
1911 Fillmore Street

Chef Matthew Accarrino hit it big with this Italian-inspired, locally-sourced restaurant that consistently ranks among the region’s best.

State Bird Provisions
State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore

Another “top ten” regular, this time on national lists, State Bird Provisions is easily spotted by the long line snaking out its front door on a daily basis.

Dosa
Dosa
1700 Fillmore

What is a dosa? “Similar to a crepe, it is made from rice & lentils (no wheat) and served with a variety of fillings that will offer you the most authentic and tantalizing flavors of South India.”

Pizzeria Delfina
Pizzeria Delfina
2406 California Street

Consistently rated among the city’s best pizza, Delfina’s California Street outpost features sidewalk tables and big crowds.

Kappa Japanese Restaurant
Kappa Japanese Restaurant
1700 Post Stret #K

Less heralded than some of its Japantown neighbors, Kappa delights with subtlety and authenticity.

Harry’s
Harry’s
2020 Fillmore Street

The quintessential after-work spot, offering a casual, comfortable atmosphere that is seldom hurting for patrons.

Fat Angel
Fat Angel
1740 O’Farrell Street

A newcomer to the neighborhood, Fat Angel features a vast menu of local, regional and global beer options.

The Boom Boom Room
The Boom Boom Room
1601 Fillmore Street

“A sultry, down-home Juke Joint providing cocktails, dancing live Blues, Boogie, Groove & Soul music six nights a week.”

San Francisco Athletic Club
San Francisco Athletic Club
1750 Divisadero Street

A recent addition to the Divisadero corridor, the SFAC is a stylish sports bar with a tasty food menu.

Fillmore Bake Shop
Fillmore Bake Shop
1890 Fillmore Street

Not the flashiest bakery on Fillmore Street, this small, family-run shop specializes in contemporary European-style baked goods.

Sift Dessert Bar
Sift Dessert Bar
2411 California Street

A small storefront specializing in cupcakes with a side of cake shakes and frosting shots.

Andersen Bakery
Andersen Bakery
1737 Post Street #340

An authentic European bakery in Japantown Center? Yes, indeed, it’s true. Add a pastry chaser to your ramen without leaving the building.

PrAna
PrAna
1928 Fillmore Street

Men’s and women’s clothing equally at home on the runway or the campground and on-site yoga classes.

Zinc Details
Zinc Details
1905 Fillmore

High-style home furnishings, home decor accessories and art pieces can be found here.

Kinokuniya San Francisco
Kinokuniya San Francisco
1581 Webster Street

Gigantic bookstore located in the Japantown Center has a comprehensive inventory of Japanese, English and Chinese books, cards and more.

Alexis Bittar
Alexis Bittar
1942 Fillmore

“One of the greatest jewelry designers of the 21st century,” Alexis Bittar’s eponymous Lower Pacific Heights store is a must-stop for jewelry connoisseurs.

Paper Tree
Paper Tree
1743 Buchanan Street

Japanese paper store where the Mihari sisters have been teaching people about origami — and supplying them with the necessary goods — since 1972.

Alta Plaza Park
Alta Plaza Park
bordered by Clay and Jackson Streets, Scott and Steiner Streets

Wide-open green space boasting a playground, tennis courts, picnic tables and jaw-dropping views of the city.

Lafayette Park
Lafayette Park
bordered by Sacramento and Washington Street, Laguna and Gough Streets

Located, like Alta Plaza Park, in neighboring Pacific Heights, Lafayette Park features a popular dog area.

Hamilton Recreation Center and Playground
Hamilton Recreation Center and Playground
bordered by Geary and Post Streets, Steiner and Scott Streets

Basketball, swimming, classes, playground and much more.

Fitness SF Fillmore
Fitness SF Fillmore
1455 Fillmore Street

The Fillmore location of the popular mini-chain (six locations in San Francisco and Marin County) offers group classes and individual training.

Pacific Heights Health Club
Pacific Heights Health Club
2356 Pine Street

This neighborhood fitness center is focused on helping clients “find their FLOW,” which is “one of the highest states of positive emotion.”

Move-SF
Move-SF
2863 California Street

Opened in 2012, this multi-faceted gym strives to be “San Francisco finest boutique fitness facility.”

Hair Caffe
Hair Caffe
2176 Sutter Street

This Japantown stylist impresses its clients with a level of service and atmosphere on par with that of a high-end Tokyo salon.

Drybar Pacific Heights
Drybar Pacific Heights
1908 Fillmore Street

“No cuts. No color. Just blowouts.” Drybar breaks hair styling down to its most base element.

Sublime Salon
Sublime Salon
2536 California Street

A sort of supergroup of stylists, trained at San Francisco’s finest salons, has coalesced at Sublime to raise the bar for neighborhood salons.

International Orange
International Orange
2044 Fillmore

A full-service day spa whose services include acupuncture and are designed to indulge your skin, body and mind.

Sundance Cinemas
Sundance Cinemas
1881 Post Street

First-run, mainstream and art films in a sumptuous setting. Some theaters even have available and allow food and alcohol.

New People
New People
1746 Post Street

Anything lovers of Japanese pop (J-pop) culture could want is contained within these five floors: food, clothing, Anime, manga and a full slate of events.

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