Potrero Hill is one of the sunniest neighborhoods in San Francisco, located on the eastern side of the peninsula, flanked by the San Francisco Bay, it is insulated from the fog and chill of the Pacific Ocean that is typical on the western side of the city. It is a residential neighborhood and not considered a tourist designation. Although it is not the most walkable neighborhood in San Francisco due to its hills, it is generally considered a very convenient location due to its proximity to offices, shopping, dining, entertainment, freeways and Caltrain. Despite being surrounded by busy neighborhoods, Potrero Hill is quiet and sleepy.
Potrero Hill started as a Caucasian working-class neighborhood in the 1850s. Its central location attracted many working professionals during the dot-com era in the 1990s. Today, it is mostly an upper-middle-class family-oriented neighborhood. In addition to Freeway 101 and 280, Caltrain also runs through this area; making it popular with commuters to southbound Silicon Valley. Most homes in Potrero Hill have views of the downtown skyline, the San Francisco Bay or Twin Peaks.
Potrero Hill has a North and a South Slope, with the North Slope generally more coveted due to its proximity to downtown and its distance from the housing projects. There is no clear dividing line between North and South as the hill apexes in various places. The demographics of the two are mostly similar with the exception of two notorious public housing projects (Potrero Terrace and Potrero Annex) situated on the South Slope. The projects occupy over one third of the South Slope and stand in sharp contrast to the more affluent homes in the neighborhood. The poorly designed, curvy and diagonal grids of the housing projects isolate their residents from the greater neighborhood. Plan is in place to tear them down not earlier than 2015 and build mixed-income housing. The presence of the housing projects make the South Slope generally less desirable than the North Slope and housing prices and rent tend to be higher the further they are away from the projects.
On Potrero Hill, you can relax in brilliant sunshine while watching fog engulf the rest of the city. Bounded roughly by 16th, Third and Cesar Chavez streets and Potrero Avenue, the neighborhood is relatively isolated by freeways and large tracts of industrial landscape, giving Potrero Hill its own pace and a feeling of distance from "San Francisco."
The fog lifts over Potrero Hill before most of the rest of San Francisco, and daytime walks are one of its great draws. However, nighttime is a different story; besides at nightclubs and around 18th Street's restaurants and cafés, Potrero Hill can get deserted in a hurry, and care should be taken in deciding where to go for an evening stroll.
Food & Bars
A2 Cafe: This place has pizzas, sandwiches, salads and coffee in what must be the city's airiest, most brilliantly sunlit eating space, at the California College of Arts & Crafts. 1111 8th St. (at Irwin Street)
Bistro 350: The California Culinary Academy's newest student-run restaurant, Bistro 350 has a seasonal menu of French bistro fare. Entrees include seafood and pasta specials that change daily, and desserts change daily. The large, contemporary space holds upward of 175 patrons. 350 Rhode Island (at 16th Street)
Aperto: This local Italian joint serves pasta, meat dishes and standout fresh fish. More family friendly than your average S.F. restaurant, Aperto featurespasta per bambino ("for kids"). Serves lunch weekdays, dinner seven days, brunch weekends. 1434 18th St. (at Connecticut Street)
Casa Sanchez Deli: After more than 80 years in San Francisco, Casa Sanchez branched out with this deli in 2003. Offerings range from American hoagies to vegetarian panini to delicious Mexican tortas, which come with a choice of proteins, like carnitas and chorizo and egg, and are stuffed with avocado, jalapenos, beans and queso fresco. Breakfast sandwiches and bagels satisfy early risers, and a non-alcoholic pina colada, an icy agua fresca made with fresh coconut and pineapple, is worth a trip by itself. 2760 24th St. (between Hampshire and York streets)
Cup of Blues: This pleasant java joint, which also serves scones, muffins, bagels, coffee and chai, is conveniently close to the 22nd Street Caltrain station. 900 22nd St. (at Minnesota Street).
Chatz Coffee: This shop has great rich smoothies (lots of coconut and banana) and wonderful coffee. 301 Arkansas St.
Dos Piñas: Although Dos Piñas looks like just another wrap/juice joint -- and though it does make both -- it's known for excellent tacos and burritos. Also, breakfast is served until 10:30 am. 251 Rhode Island St. (at 16th Street)
Farley's: Ground zero for Potrero Hill socializing, Farley's has served potent java and decent pastries for the last dozen years. Savor its magazine rack, tables and booths, worn wood floors and remarkably varied clientele. Whether you walk in covered with paint stains or decked out in an Armani suit, you'll likely get the same friendly treatment. 1315 18th St. (between Missouri and Texas streets).
Ganim's Market and Deli: This tiny café has served burgers and fish-and-chips to Potrero Hill denizens since 1975. 1135 18th St. (at Mississippi Street).
Goat Hill Pizza: Monday night is "neighborhood night" at this pizza joint. For only $8.95 you get all the pizza and salad you can eat. Happy locals crowd in and watch the sun set over fabulous city views. Patient servers stream out of the kitchen carrying trays of thinly sliced pizza with sourdough crusts and a variety of toppings. (-SF Chronicle) 300 Connecticut St. (at 18th Street).
Hard Knox Cafe: This Dogpatch café serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and deli sandwiches. 2526 Third St. (between 22nd and 23rd streets).
Hazel's Kitchen: There's no room to sit here, but it's worth standing for the sandwiches. Besides, you can take them to Farley's to eat. Honest. 1331 18th St. (betweeb Missouri and Texas streets).
Il Pirata: This place features a gourmet American and Italian menu and has a separate bar next door. 2007 16th St. (between Potrero and San Bruno avenues).
Mabel's Just for You Cafe: The king of Potrero Hill morning-after breakfast joints has moved to more spacious digs at 22nd and Third streets, but it's worth going a few extra blocks for the chorizo and eggs, crab cakes and cornmeal pancakes, plus an expanded lunch menu. 732 22nd St.
Moshi Moshi Sushi & Grill: Sushi? In Dogpatch? You'd better believe it -- and for 15 years, no less. Lunch and dinner weekdays, dinner only on Saturday. 2092 Third St. (at 18th Street)
Thee Parkside: In the space formerly occupied by Garibaldi's, Parkside serves up "American fare seven days a week," with cocktails until 2 am and weekend brunch. 1600 17th St. (at Wisconsin Street)
Sally's: Some of the hardest-working line cooks make some of the City's fluffiest omelettes in this packed breakfast joint. Good luck getting an outside table on weekends. 300 De Haro St. (at 16th Street)
Slow Club: The dining experience here is Mediterranean with a California influence. The menu changes daily; dinner is served until 10 on weeknights and until 11 on weekends; lunch is served too. 2501 Mariposa St. (at Hampshire Street).
Wolfe's Lunch: You'll find cheap American and Japanese breakfast and lunch for the local graphic-design, architecture and CCAC crowd here. 1220 16th St.
Bloom's Saloon: You'll find excellent views of downtown in a roomy, pleasantly threadbare bar where the patrons take their Giants and their 49ers seriously. 1318 18th St. (between Missouri and Texas streets)
Bottom of the Hill: This typically crowded music venue showcases some of San Francisco's best bands, and some of its newest, plus lots of out-of-town acts, and its noted for its free Sunday-afternoon barbecue. 1233 17th St. (between Texas and Missouri streets)
Cafe Cocomo: This club features varied dance nights with both DJs and live music in a cavernous tropical setting, and there's a full bar. 650 Indiana St. (between Mariposa and 18th streets)
Connecticut Yankee: This comfy, sports-themed bar has indoor and outdoor seating, food that's a couple steps above pub grub and plenty of beers on tap. The Yankee -- headquarters for expatriate Red Sox fans -- is equally well suited to cold winter nights and sunny afternoons. 100 Connecticut St. (at 17th Street)
Dogpatch Saloon: This comfy bar on an otherwise industrial stretch of Third has good beers on tap. Open Mon.-Sat. and on Sundays when the 49ers are playing at home. 2496 Third St. (at 22nd Street)
Gurdjieff Hall: A venue for modern theater. 312 Connecticut St. (at 18th Street)
The Ramp: The place for indoor and outdoor dining and drinking on the waterfront, with sweeping views of the Bay. 855 China Basin St. (between Mariposa and Illinois streets)
Thee Parkside: Tiki is the theme of an indoor-outdoor live music space in the back, complete with pingpong. Sidle up to a picnic table and enjoy grub like a carnitas platter, burgers (both veggie and meat) and garlic fries. (SF Chronicle/SF Gate) 1600 17th St. (at Wisconsin)
Arch: This graphic-design and drafting-supplies mothership also carries a variety of gifts, papers and envelopes. 99 Missouri St. (at 17th Street)
Bell and Trunk Flowers: There are no stuffed Garfield dolls, no scented candles and no nonsense here -- just cut flowers and arrangements to order. 1411 18th St. (between Connecticut and Missouri streets)
Christopher's Books: In keeping with Potrero Hill's family friendliness, proprietor Tee Minot stocks a large kids' section and all your favorite grown-up books, too. 1400 18th St. (at Missouri Street)
Collage: This shop carries locally produced art and artistically unique fixtures for the home. 1345 18th St. (between Missouri and Texas streets)
Potrero Hill Healing Arts: Chiropractor Ann Brinkley and a host of holistic therapists work out patients' kinks through chiropractic, massage and other techniques. 1317 18th St. (between Missouri and Texas streets)
Post and Parcel: This is the place for one-stop shopping for packing, shipping, office supplies and gifts. 1459 18th St. (between Connecticut and Missouri streets)