Neighborhoods / The Richmond

The Richmond

The hidden city

It’s Thursday afternoon, the fog has just begun its march back inland and Clement Street is buzzing with pedestrians. Let the tourists do their shopping in Chinatown. The locals know that the best place to find exotic spices, unusual gifts and maybe a quick bite of dim sum lay far from the tour buses and “San Francisco”-emblazoned sweatshirts. Here is where you’ll find people at work — lowering a load of merchandise onto a street level elevator, checking out customers at Green Apple Books, cooking up one of the birds hanging in the window at any of the dozens of unremarkable-looking restaurants nearby. It’s where you’ll hear Mandarin, Russian and the lilt of an Irish accent mingling with your own voice, where bargains abound and maybe, if you stick around long enough, where Celtic music plays live almost every night. But maybe you won’t, because you plan to hike in The Presidio instead, or Golden Gate Park, and then pick up that odd-sized candy dish you’ve been eying at Kamei. This is the Inner Richmond, a riot of colors and sounds, just enough removed from the center of the city to comfortably house you and your family for the long run.

Area Map

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Commute

Commuter Buses
There is only one tech bus stop in the Inner Richmond, at Park Presidio and Geary. That stop is serviced by Google, Yahoo and Apple buses.

SFMTA Light Rail
MUNI Metro hasn’t made it to the north side of San Francisco yet, so Inner Richmond residents wishing to take the train must be content to cross Golden Gate Park for their nearest MUNI stop, which is the N Judah train at Carl and Stanyan Streets.

In contrast to its lack of trains, the Inner Richmond is well-served by SFMTA buses. The 1, 2 and 38 all travel east-west along California, Clement and Geary, respectively, while the 28 heads north-south on Park Presidio, as does the 44 on 6th Avenue and the 33 on Arguello.

Nearest CalTrail Station
3rd and King Streets

Nearest BART
Civic Center Station

Estimated Commute Times
Financial District via auto: 20 minutes
Financial District via transit: 35 minutes
South San Francisco via auto: 30 minutes
Silicon Valley via auto: 60 minutes

Around the Block

Who Lives Here
The Inner Richmond, and its twin central commercial streets, Geary and Clement, is a neighborhood of great ethnic, socioeconomic and lifestyle diversity. There is truly “something for everyone” in the Inner Richmond.

Inner Richmond locals come in all shapes an sizes
This neighborhood’s history is a study in changing demographics. First came European immigrants, from Russia and Ireland mostly, and a sizable number of Middle Eastern Jews. Then, after World War II, Japanese immigrants came to the Inner Richmond, joining the Chinese population that had been in the neighborhood since before the turn of the century. Today, these groups all co-exist in the Inner Richmond, along with more recent Southeastern Asian immigrants and a second wave of Russians. Among these groups are young families attracted to the district’s large, relatively affordable homes and proximity to a pair of major outdoor recreation spaces, creating a neighborhood bursting with diversity and culture. What, you think those great ethnic restaurants on Clement Street came from nowhere?

How They Live
Life in the Inner Richmond is decidedly urban and pedestrian-friendly, though for the locals, natural splendor is only as far away as Golden Gate Park and The Presidio, which are both within an easy walk of their home.

They dive in feet first
You live in the Inner Richmond, you don’t want to hide out at home. Sure, you’ve gone to the trouble of securing a spacious, 1920s domicile with a backyard and a garage, but there’s so much to do outside, why would you want to stay home? Here in the Inner Richmond, the residents take “act locally” seriously. They do their shopping on Clement Street, their drinking on Geary, their hiking in The Presidio. Maybe they wander over to Balboa Street sometimes for some authentic Russian eats, but most everything they need is right outside their door. They don’t mind fog. Fog is part of life and with it, an open window guarantees a good night’s sleep, even in the middle of July. They know which nights to go to Burma Supersar — when the line is the shortest — and which place on Clement has the best pork buns. This is a neighborhood full of nooks and crannies, the types best explored with a local. It’s a neighborhood full of “Cheers” bars and regulars’ coffee shops, with the odd one-of-a-kind boutique thrown in for good measure. It’s a different kind of modern San Francisco that has plenty in common with the old city but embraces the global celebration of the new.

Housing Market
The Inner Richmond has a diverse housing market. Available properties can be condos, TICs or single-family homes of a variety of sizes. Price-wise, the local market runs slightly higher than the citywide average.

Middle-of-the-pack — for now
One thing you need to know is that there are large houses in the Inner Richmond, which skews the neighborhood’s median real estate price. These are homes, built between the World Wars, with three, four, even five bedrooms and upwards of 2,000 square feet, that sell for more than $2 million. But they are not all there is in this neighborhood. In fact, they are the minority. It’s much easier to find a flat or condominium here, for much less than $2 million. In the Inner Richmond, a condo or TIC can be had for under $1 million, in fact, even one with two bedrooms, outlining that this is not only a neighborhood of diverse people; it is also one of diverse housing. A recent check of the MLS revealed one- and two- and three-bedroom condos ranging in asking price from $658,000 to $1.895 million, with one SFR listed at $2.895 million. Recent median sale prices of Inner Richmond property has ranged from a shade under $1.2 million to a tick above $1.5 million, putting it squarely in San Francisco’s middle class. Overall, though, the neighborhood’s appreciation has outpaced the city’s since 2000.

What To Expect
Expect plenty of foot traffic, especially on Clement Street, along with a blizzard of hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants and plenty of Irish bars. Expect impressive homes along Lake Street and lots of multi-family units elsewhere.

A place where people live and work
For many, the Inner Richmond is exactly what they want from city living. The hubbub of its daily life leaves them invigorated and wanting more. They expect a walk down Clement Street to be an exercise in human dodgeball, and to see all kinds of people every day. Anyone coming to the Inner Richmond can expect these things and more; they can expect the barista to know their order. They can expect the sound of live music to drift into their bedroom window on some nights. They can expect a line at Burma Superstar, a crowd most mornings at Mountain Lake Park and a taste of sophisticated downtown dining at The Richmond. They can expect to have neighbors living very close by, even on Lake Street, but they can expect to find solitude only a short walk away in The Presidio. They can expect to spend an entire year exploring all of the inexpensive ethnic restaurants in the neighborhood. It may take that long for them to decide on their favorite Irish bar, as well. They can expect to know people who’ve lived in the neighborhood for decades as well as some who’ve just arrived.

What Not To Expect
Don’t expect a BART commute or 90 days of sun every summer. Don’t expect easy parking, tour buses or the nightlife of SOMA.

BART fans, take note
By now it should be clear that those looking for a flashy, picture postcard San Francisco neighborhood have come to the wrong place. You won’t find the hottest club in the Inner Richmond. It’s not a place to see and be seen. You can’t expect, also, to take a short walk every weekday morning to the nearest BART station, unless you consider the 3.5 miles it takes to get to the Civic Center a “short walk.” Don’t expect a quiet stroll down Clement Street at midday, or an easy pedestrian crossing of Geary, or homes spaced far apart. This is, after all, an urban neighborhood, so don’t expect easy street parking, either. Don’t expect Giorgio’s to suddenly begin serving trendy brands of pizza, the Plough and Stars to switch to a dance club music format or Toy Boat to introduce liquid nitrogen ice cream to its menu. Don’t expect sunny mornings in June or views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and don’t expect Michael Mina to open a new space in the Inner Richmond. This isn’t that type of place.

PERFECT FOR
Families of all kinds, ethnic food enthusiasts, pedestrians, hikers, urban hikers, Guinness drinkers, window shoppers, golfers, anyone who thinks fog is an integral part of the San Francisco experience, low-key people, adventurous diners, adventurous shoppers, literary types and Marin commuters.

NOT PERFECT FOR
Sun-worshippers, street parkers, people who like empty streets, suburbanites who can’t fathom attached housing, nightclubbers, exclusively high-end diners, BART lovers, those opposed to loud and sometimes chaotic shopping districts, non-pedestrians.

You’ll Fall In Love With
The feeling that you’ve stumbled onto a richly cultured neighborhood that doesn’t appear in the tourist guidebooks.

Your love for the Inner Richmond won’t sweep you away, like it might for Russian Hill or Noe Valley. It will grow over time with each inexpensive Burmese meal, each Golden Gate Park hike, each cup of tea at Katia’s Russian Tea Room. You’ll love early mornings on Clement Street, watching workers fill restaurants and shops with the day’s wares. You’ll love passing hours in Green Apple Books, then returning for a reading later that night. You’ll love Celtic bands at The Plough and Stars or, if maybe you’re not up for that, just killing time at Irish 32. You’ll love the sound of children every afternoon as they pour out of the Inner Richmond’s four schools and one library. You’ll love your big 1920s house or flat, and, sometimes, you’re private backyard. You’ll definitely love your garage, and you’ll love watching your children play at Mountain Lake Park, something kids have done for over 100 years. You’ll love the feeling of permanence this neighborhood gives off in waves and you’ll love, like so many diverse peoples before you, the optimism and ambition of this place, hidden away from the buzz of downtown.

Places to go

Burma Superstar
Burma Superstar
309 Clement Street

The line out the door is no illusion; Burma Superstar is San Francisco’s premiere Burmese restaurant.

Kitchen Istanbul
Kitchen Istanbul
349

Turkish and Mediterranean food using local ingredients, from chef Emrah Kilicoglu and completing its first successful year on Clement Street.

Bella Trattoria
Bella Trattoria
3854 Geary Boulevard

Small neighborhood Italian restaurant offering house made pastas, with an extensive wine list and a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Giorgio’s
Giorgio’s
151 Clement

Old-time San Franciscans swear by this classic pizzeria. Please set your watch to 1958, sit down, and enjoy.

Stein’s
Stein’s
731 Clement

A recent addition to the cacophony of Clement Street, Stein’s features German fare and no shortage of beer options in a casual, sporty atmosphere.

Katia’s Russian Tea Room
Katia’s Russian Tea Room
600 5th Avenue

Traditional Russian food, including borscht and zakuski, plus formal tea service.

Plough and Stars
Plough and Stars
116 Clement Street

One of many Inner Richmond Irish-themed bars, this one featuring live Celtic music many nights of the week.

The Bitter End
The Bitter End
441 Clement

A great place to have comforting pub food, play some darts or pool and choose from a wide variety of beers on tap.

Richmond Republic Draught House
Richmond Republic Draught House
642 Clement

The latest casual craze — a comfortable but stylish ale house with a simple, high-quality menu and plenty of taps — hits Clement Street.

Side Bar
Side Bar
408 Clement Street

Housed in the former Holy City Zoo space, side bar is not a legendary comedy club but instead a subdued cocktail bar.

Buckshot Bar and Gameroom
Buckshot Bar and Gameroom
3848 Geary Boulevard

True to its name, the Buckshot is a gameroom, with arcade games mixed in among its food and drink.

The Abbey Tavern
The Abbey Tavern
4100 Geary

One of the many authentic Irish bars located on Geary Boulevard, the Abbey draws a crowd of expats who come to enjoy soccer on the big screen.

Toy Boat
Toy Boat
401 Clement Street

A long-time favorite for Inner Richmond locals looking to cap dinner with some dessert, and maybe pick up a few toys as part of the bargain.

Schubert’s Bakery
Schubert’s Bakery
521 Clement

Cakes, pastries, cookies, desserts, wedding cakes and one-of-a-kind creations have been featured at this indulgent spot since 1911.

Cinderella Bakery and Cafe
Cinderella Bakery and Cafe
436 Balboa Street

The oldest authentic Russian bakery in the Bay Area has been churning out pastries, meat pies and Russian specialties since 1953.

April in Paris
April in Paris
15 Clement Street

The boutique and workshop of master leather artisan Beatrice Amblard, who is best known for her custom handbags.

Kamei
Kamei
525 Clement

Housewares and restaurants supplies, plus a seemingly endless inventory of unusual and/or unique products. Give yourself plenty of time to browse.

Green Apple Books
Green Apple Books
506 Clement

Outside of City Lights, Green Apple Books is San Francisco’s pre-eminent independent book store.

Park Life
Park Life
220 Clement

A gallery and retail store that presents 10 exhibits each year and specializes in limited edition artist collections.

Seedstore
Seedstore
212 Clement

Men’s and women’s fashions including designer, established and independent items. Operating in the neighborhood since 2010.

Globus Slavic Bookstore
Globus Slavic Bookstore
332 Balboa Street

A bookstore designed specifically to serve the Inner Richmond’s substantial Russian community.

City + County Bicycle Company
City + County Bicycle Company
251 Clement Street

A “new kind of bike shop” that specializes in road bikes, cyclocross and adventure riding.

Presidio Golf Course
Presidio Golf Course
300 Finley Road

A national historic landmark since 1962, this 1910-designed course is as challenging and rewarding as it is beautiful.

Mountain Lake Park (and trail)
Mountain Lake Park (and trail)
98 Funston Avenue

14 acres’ worth of recreation, designed by William Hammond Hall more than 100 years ago.

Dynamic Balance
Dynamic Balance
35 Clement Street

“Fitness meets physical care” at this unique studio designed to help injured and challenged people find a higher level of physical capacity.

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Fitness Center
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Fitness Center
3200 California Street

A full-service gym with personal trainers, classes, all manner of equipment and nutrition consulting.

Gyrotronic Active Pilates
Gyrotronic Active Pilates
26 7th Street

“A healing sanctuary for all seeking to enhance their health and their quality of life.”

Tonie’s
Tonie’s
35 Clement Street

Full-service salon whose work with thermal hair straightening has drawn raves for the customer community.

Kinship Salon and Barber
Kinship Salon and Barber
253 Clement

Women and men are equally comfortable at this stylish contemporary salon, new to Clement Street as of 2014.

Twin Star Hair and Beauty
Twin Star Hair and Beauty
1100 Clement

A Clement Street fixture that continues to upgrade and evolve, leaving its customer base satisfied and loyal.

Johnson’s Acupuncture
Johnson’s Acupuncture
245 Clement Street

Acupuncture and herbal therapy, along with “cupping, moxibustion and tui na massage to treat both acute and chronic pain.

Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy
Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy
601 Clement

Kung Fu, kickboxing, self-defense, lion and dragon dancing, for adults and children.

Senator Milton Marks Branch Library
Senator Milton Marks Branch Library
351 9th Avenue

A 2009 renovation updated this 1914 landmark building, making the Marks branch more popular than ever.

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