Neighborhoods / The Sunset

The Sunset

Out of the fog — in a way

Yes, there is fog in the Inner Sunset, glorious, billowing clouds of fog that roll in on summer mornings and often never leave. There is fog, but there is plenty more to the Inner Sunset than white mist. When the fog lifts, and even when it doesn’t, you’ll find in the Inner Sunset one of San Francisco’s most livable urban neighborhoods. It doesn’t have the gleaming sheen of a Marina or a Cow Hollow or the go-go nightlife focus of a Mission. It’s not a haven for latter-day hippies like neighboring Haight-Ashbury, and it’s not row upon orderly row of neb-suburbia like its Central and Outer Sunset neighbors to the west. What it is instead is a self-contained place with businesses, apartments condominiums and single-family homes, easy access to UCSF and Golden Gate Park, a handful of comfortable neighborhood bars and a growing, diverse restaurant scene. The Inner Sunset is a place of long-time residents and newcomers, all of whom are invested in their neighborhood and all of whom will stop and say, “Hi” Yes, there is fog in the Inner Sunset, which keeps it mercifully cool and isolated from the rest of the overheated city.

Area Map

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Commute

Commuter Buses
Google, Apple and Yahoo buses stop at various points on 19th Avenue. The closest stop for Inner Sunset dwellers is 19th and Judah Street.

SFMTA Light Rail
The MUNI Metro N Judah line runs east-west along Judah Street, connecting the Inner Sunset to downtown and the rest of the Sunset District.

MUNI buses travel north-south on 19th Avenue (the 28 route), east-west on Lincoln Way (the 71), north-south on 9th Avenue (the 6) and north-south on 7th Avenue (the 43 and 44). The 44 route continues into Golden Gate Park, while the 43 turns onto Parnassus, joining the 6 in an easter-west route.

Nearest CalTrail Station
3rd and King Streets

Nearest BART
Civic Center Station

Estimated Commute Times
Financial District via auto: 25 minutes
Financial District via transit: 20 minutes
South San Francisco via auto: 25 minutes
Silicon Valley via auto: 50 minutes

Around the Block

Who Lives Here
Traditionally a blue-collar neighborhood, the Inner Sunset is enjoying a wave of growing popularity that has transformed this working-class district into a middle- to upper-middle-class place.

The great melting pot
So many San Francisco neighborhoods claim to be diverse; the Inner Sunset truly is. Whether that means hearing Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Russian and, yes, English during your stroll down Irving Street or availing oneself of the many and varied ethnic restaurants in the neighborhood, you can be sure that living in the Inner Sunset is a global experience on par with anywhere else in the city — or in any city. If anything, the district’s recent gain in popularity has added to its diversity, adding income diversity, educational diversity and cultural diversity to an already-impressive mix. Today’s Inner Sunset is comprised not only of longtime neighborhood fixtures, the folks who purchased their homes back when Niners played at Kezar and UCSF acted as a convenient barrier against Haight-Ashbury hippies but also of newcomers drawn at first by the neighborhood’s comparatively inexpensive housing and then by charms too many to list. Now, while you can still find elderly locals sitting on lawn chairs in front of their homes, you’ll also notice that the early morning line for the N Judah heading toward downtown is much larger than it once was.

How They Live
The Inner Sunset offers the rare combo of a convenient location and a feeling of seclusion. It’s perfectly situated for Golden Gate Park access, for example, but is only a 20-minute train ride from the Financial District.

Even the newcomers are throwbacks
You come to the Inner Sunset for the lifestyle; you come because you want to take MUNI to work, because you can’t think of a better Sunday than one spent strolling around Stow Lake. The Inner Sunset is a place of down-home breakfast spots and choosing between pizza at Pasquale’s, an Irving Street fixture since 1961, and Baiano, which combines Neapolitan pizza with Brazilian small bites, or deciding to buy groceries at Andronico’s or at a corner store. It’s where you can still rent videos (Le Video) and get your hair cut by an honest-to-goodness barber (Catalano’s Barber Shop), then repair to any number of neighborhood bars, including one that claims to be San Francisco’s second-oldest, for a cold one. You came to the Inner Sunset because from here you can jog all the way to the beach or wake up and walk the length of Haight Street and be home in time for lunch, and because even though the 49ers are long gone you can still catch some stellar high school football, soccer and major league lacrosse at Kezar Stadium. You won’t find cable cars and tour buses in the Inner Sunset, but you’ll be hard-pressed to think of much else missing from this versatile, under appreciated neighborhood.

Housing Market
Formerly entry-level, 20 years of steadily growing interest has left this neighborhood with a very competitive real estate market. Large family homes of many kinds hasn’t hurt, either.

No longer an undiscovered gem
The Inner Sunset has spent most of its life in the shadow of higher-profile San Francisco neighborhoods. As a result, it has traditionally been more affordable. This is still true, but the gap has shrunk. Beginning in the early 1990s, homes in the Inner Sunset began gaining value, a trend that has not stopped since. Add to this a recent region-wide trend toward lower available inventory and you’ve got a neighborhood whose homeowners have spent the past few years enjoying double-digit value increases. As of November 1, there were only 12 homes for sale in the Inner Sunset. Half of those were single-family homes, with a median asking price of $999,000. Of the six condos available, the median asking price was $959,000. For 2015, the median sales price of all properties in the Inner Sunset was a touch under $1.4 million.

What To Expect
Expect a surprising number of dining options and the siren song of Golden Gate Park, large pre-war homes and a good amount of fog, all in a classically bustling urban neighborhood setting.

A place that meets its residents’ needs
Forget glitz and glamour; the Inner Sunset isn’t about those things. Sure, the locals can always opt for dinner at Social or Park Chow if they want a taste of the latest trends in culinary arts, but even the high-end Inner Sunset restaurants are comfortable a homey. Residents of the Inner Sunset trade access to ephemeral joys like hip dance clubs for convenience. Expect to find in the Inner Sunset the things you need day-to-day: banks, grocery stores, coffee shops, bakeries, shoe stores. Expect the draw of Golden Gate Park to prove irresistible. Expect to come across people wearing O.R. scrubs, UCSF medical students who’ve wandered down the hill in search of lunch, or dinner, or maybe they live in the neighborhood and never have to leave, not even for work. Expect, after time, the hum of the N Judah MUNI train to fade into white noise. Expect to have a difficult time choosing between Tart-to-Tart and Arizmendi and expect to recognize your neighbors when you see them out on Irving Street. Expect fog and learn to love it. Expect to hear the music whenever there’s an open-air concert in the park. Expect to own a closet full of light jackets and expect to need a garage if you own a car, which is fine, because, finally, expect not to need that car very often.

What Not To Expect
Don’t expect flash and glamour. Even as higher-end businesses (and residents) flood into the neighborhood, the Inner Sunset remains a place that prefers to be a place to live instead of a place to visit.

Know this: the Inner Sunset is not the Marina
This is not a famous San Francisco neighborhood. Don’t expect your out-of-town friends to know where it is. Don’t expect to see tourist buses crowding Inner Sunset streets, unless they’re on their way to Golden Gate Park. Don’t expect a month of sunny skies if that month is June, and don’t expect parking to be easy. Bring money for the meter. Don’t expect the Inner Sunset to be the address of the hottest new dance club. Nightlife here leans more to the “Cheers” paradigm. Don’t expect to find your dream contemporary home. While new construction is not unheard of in the Inner Sunset, it is still far less likely than in neighborhoods like SOMA or the Mission. Don’t expect easy BART access, but downtown is only 20 minutes away via the magic of MUNI. Don’t expect not to sweat, even though it’s cool and foggy, if you live south of Kirkham Street and are walking home from Andronico’s and, in general, don’t expect to pay as much per square foot for property as you would in some higher-profile San Francisco neighborhoods.

PERFECT FOR
Families both young and old, outdoors enthusiasts including joggers, cyclists, softball players, bocce players and arborists; homebodies and low-key types who enjoy casual dining and night spots where the bartender knows you by name; those who prefer cool weather to blistering heat, downtown MUNI commuters and neighborhood fixtures.

NOT PERFECT FOR
Nightlife enthusiasts, anyone not willing to take advantage of the glorious, world-class outdoor space that is Golden Gate Park, dislikers of casual eateries, non-pedestrians, tourists, people who will only consider Victorian architecture, sun worshippers and anyone who can only live in a fully detached home.

You’ll Fall In Love With
You arrive, you settle in and then you realize how much you love finding a low-key, high-convenience, stable city neighborhood.

The vibe in the Inner Sunset doesn’t hit you over the head, like some other, more dramatic places in San Francisco. It’s a quieter type of thing, long-lasting and true, that grows over time like the love for a favorite sweater. So it may be awhile before you realize that you love the rhythm of the fog as it sweeps in and flows out, and that sitting in front of the Beanery and watching the world go by really is a productive way to spend a morning, except maybe on Sunday, when you’ll want to be at the farmers’ market. You’ll realize that you love always having Golden Gate Park as an option, and that the track at Kezar is always open. You’ll love the fireplace at Park Chow and the one at the Fireside bar. You’ll love Inner Sunset Sundays, and the first time you stumble across The Little Lodge. You’ll love the faint sounds of children playing at recess coming from St. Anne’s and the fact that not only is there a non-chain drugstore in the Inner Sunset; there’s also a vacuum cleaner repair store. You’ll love that you’ve found a neighborhood in which to put down roots, and you’ll love realizing that everyone loves that, too.

Places to go

Park Chow
Park Chow
1240 9th Avenue

A reliable, always-pleasing, comfortable spot that provides an organically-leaning American/Californian menu and a family-friendly atmosphere, plus a fireplace for those cool, foggy nights.

Nopalito
Nopalito
1224 9th

A relative newcomer to the scene, the Inner Sunset Nopalito delivers the same organic Mexican menu as the Broderick Street location, and something else: a spacious rear patio for al fresco dining.

Izakaya Sozai
Izakaya Sozai
1500 Irving Street

Wander a a few blocks from the 9th/Irving nucleus to find this intimate Japanese restaurant serving traditional small plates, ramen and yakitori.

Craw Station
Craw Station
1336 9th

Cajun food comes to the Inner Sunset. Craw Station encourages diners to sit down, relax, and even eat with their hands.

Baiano Pizzeria
Baiano Pizzeria
1330 9th

The most stylish of the crowded Inner Sunset pizza scene, Baiano scores points with a varied menu including Neapolitan pizzas… and Brazilian small bites.

Social Kitchen and Brewery
Social Kitchen and Brewery
1326 9th

Perhaps the most lively spot in the Inner Sunset, Social delivers with on-site brewed beers and a sophisticated bar bites menu.

Yancy’s Saloon
Yancy’s Saloon
734 Irving Street

Darts, lots of TVs, all turned to sports. In a neighborhood full of neighborhood bars, Yancy’s is the Inner Sunset’s casual sports bar option.

Little Shamrock
Little Shamrock
807 Lincoln Way

Legend has it that the Little Shamrock, opened in 1893 when the Inner Sunset was little more than sand dunes, is the second-oldest bar in the city.

Blackthorn
Blackthorn
834 Irving

Not just a sportsbar, though it does promise coverage of “any local team.” The Blackthorn also has DJ and live music nights, Karaoke, trivia and a back patio.

The Corner Spot
The Corner Spot
1368 Irving

A bit foreboding from the street, The Corner Spot boasts pool tables, booths, welcoming bartenders… and Irish nachos.

Inner Fog
Inner Fog
545 Irving

A wine bar in the Inner Sunset was once almost as rare as a unicorn. Not anymore; the Inner Fog is a lively, comfortable place with bar bites, wine and (even) beer.

San Francisco Hometown Creamery
San Francisco Hometown Creamery
1290 9th Avenue

Another newcomer, SFHC is “the only creamery in San Francisco to make small batch ice cream completely from scratch on-site.”

Arizmendi Bakery
Arizmendi Bakery
1331 9th

This branch of the popular Arizmendi mini-chain (three locations) is seldom lacking crowds, especially during the day.

Tart to Tart
Tart to Tart
641 Irving

Tart to Tart is not just a coffee shop; it’s also an outlet for housemade desserts, including cakes and pies.

Paragraph
Paragraph
1234 9th Avenue

Stylish boutique offers more than women’s and men’s clothing. It also stocks jewelry, housewares, accessories and even baby clothes.

Wishbone
Wishbone
601 Irving Street

Launched in Hayes Valley in 1995, Wishbone has since moved to the Inner Sunset, where the gifts/cards/jewelry/clothing and more store has flourished.

The Great Overland Book Company
The Great Overland Book Company
345 Judah Street

The last of a dying breed: the tiny, independent bookstore chaotically filled to the rafters with books.

On the Run
On the Run
1310 9th

For those unfulfilled by impersonal big box sporting goods stores, On the Run has sales associates trained in the biomechanics of feet and ankles.

Cary Lane
Cary Lane
1262 9th

“San Francisco’s only collection of designer sample outlet stores for men and women” has a store in the Inner Sunset, along with ones in Hayes Valley and the Mission.

Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Lincoln Way

The fifth-most visited city park in the United States makes up the Inner Sunset’s northern border, providing almost limitless recreational opportunities.

Kezar Stadium
Kezar Stadium
Kezar Drive and Frederick Street

Once the home of the San Francisco 49ers, the rehabbed Kezar is smaller and more accessible, hosting city sports events and available to anyone who wants to take a lap.

Paresh Martial Arts
Paresh Martial Arts
447 Irving Street

Martial arts for the whole family means beginner, intermediate and advanced classes for students as young as three years old.

Sunset Gym
Sunset Gym
1247 9th Avenue

The Inner Sunset’s own neighborhood gym offers two floors of equipment and space and is family owned and operated.

Burn Dynamic Group Fitness
Burn Dynamic Group Fitness
637 Irving

The best aspects of Pilates, cardio and strength training are the rule at the Inner Sunset location of this mini-chain studio.

Eight Thirty Seven
Eight Thirty Seven
837 Irving Street

The eponymously named salon at 837 Irving Street aims to express “each of (their) clients’ own individuality through a hairstyle that caters to who they are, uniquely.”

G Salon
G Salon
1381A 9th Avenue

A long-standing neighborhood salon whose goal is to bring “current trends and techniques to (their) clients’ every day lives.”

Catalano’s Barber Shop
Catalano’s Barber Shop
1649 Irving

Only open four days a week, Catalano’s is an old fashioned barber shop, the right antidote for fussy, trendy hair salons.

The Little Lodge
The Little Lodge
1306 12th Avenue

A sign of changing times in the Inner Sunset - a “creative space” offering various art installations and shows of all shapes and sizes.

California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive

As if Golden Gate Park itself isn’t inspiring enough, the cutting-edge Academy of Sciences will easily sate your need to grapple with the awesome.

Inner Sunset Sundays
Inner Sunset Sundays
Irving Street

Four times a year the neighborhood gets together on closed streets to swap stories, sing and dance, connect with neighbors and basically just hang out and enjoy the neighborhood.

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