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San Francisco Profiles – San Francisco’s Richmond with Jackie

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It has been so fun working with friends to develop this series. Thus far I have introduced you to the Sunset District via my friend Derek and Miraloma Park with Matthew. I have more neighborhoods coming up! After each interview, I have included some additional spots to check out should you choose to visit, although Jackie provided the majority of locations (she is a super foodie).


Meet Jackie.


Over the five years that Jackie and I worked together, we probably talked about food for at least a thousand hours! I feel she is one of the most knowledgeable folks out there when it comes to food in San Francisco. When it comes to the good stuff, any good stuff, from ice cream to ramen, she has tried it and can give you a solid opinion. I was thrilled when she agreed to do this series, since her neighborhood, the Richmond District is chock-full of amazing foodie finds!

Like Sunset, Richmond has two parts, Inner and Outer and Jackie shares her favorites spots in and out of both.

[1] Favorite thing about the Richmond.
I’ve moved to the Richmond from the Mission/Potrero hood about 5 years ago and I’ve really liked it for the most part. Per Yelp, I’m in the beginning blocks of the outer Richmond, but I feel like it’s in the middle of the entire Richmond, so I’m still close to the Inner Richmond and not that far from the Legion of Honor either.

What I like most about the Richmond is the walkability and diversity of population and businesses. There’s a great mix of residents there — lots of Chinese and Russian families, college students, hipsters, couples and families, affluent households from Lake St and the Seacliff hoods, and what I like most, people of different ages.

San Francisco’s Richmond

I like being able to walk out and hit a Japanese ramen restaurant, a Russian grocery market, a Chinese bakery, a Korean-run shoe-repair store and then a Walgreen’s in about a 1-2 mile radius. Last favorite thing is the closeness to the Golden Gate Bridge. I can get on the road to Marin, Napa or Sonoma in just a few minutes, esp. on weekend mornings.

[2] Least favorite thing about the Richmond.

I dislike it being so far from the 280 and 101 freeways. It means, even with good traffic, I have to add another 15-20 minutes to any drive down the peninsula or over to the East Bay. The Richmond does feel at times like the farthest hood of SF, but then again that also means, I’m right by Golden Gate Park, the beaches, the Presidio, and Golden Gate Bridge (see #1).

San Francisco’s Richmond District

Also the seemingly interminable summer fog, which seems to stay longer and longer each year. We live 4-5 blocks within the fog belt, so the not-so-foggy inner Richmond is actually within our fogged-up eyesight. I try to remember that the rest of the year, it’s pretty fog-free.

[3] What differentiates your neighborhood from all the other parts of the city? 
I kind of touched upon it before, but I really like the mix of people in the Richmond, esp. the diversity of incomes (which is getting rarer in many SF hoods) and different generations walking down the street outside my home. I also enjoy the laid-back comfort and unpretentiousness of the hood. Only the outer Sunset (the surfer/hipster hood of the General Store, Mollusk Surf Shop and Outerlands) might reflect that same kind of diversity. There are artisanal and quirky businesses alongside dim sum takeout and Polish markets with their own sausages.

[4] Favorite coffee spot in SF (or your neighborhood, Sunset, Mission, etc).
Village Market on the corner of California St. and 8th Ave is a small organic produce market. I can’t quite afford using it for everyday purchases, though I do like splurging on some imported dry pasta from Italy or finding an interesting jar of honey now and then. It is a great place to get a well-made latte or other coffee drink. In fact, it might be the only place for miles.

Market Village Coffee

The owner/manager apparently cares enough about the coffee side of the business that he trains all the cashiers to be good baristas. Their lattes equal the ones I’ve gotten at Four Barrel or Ritual or Reveille. Just don’t try ordering one after 5 pm, when they stop serving coffee. They also have a couple of big weathered tables to hang out at and they serve a pretty good breakfast and lunch (usually 1-2 specials). What I like most, is that this place looks very different from the excellent, but now cookie-cutter interiors of the hipster coffee shops — Four Barrel, Sightglass, Haus, etc. It has the feel of some rustic Provencal village store, but with a casual, looser Marin/Napa flavor.

I did see a new hipster coffee shop on Geary and Spruce that is on my list to try — Fifty/Fifty Coffee and Tea. In all honesty, I’m a recreational coffee drinker. Tea is my thing really. For a good, strong every-day tea, it’s hard to beat, ahem, Peet’s (yes, a chain) and I’m fortunate to have one on Geary and 15th. My favorite is the Assam Golden Tip, 2 tea bags, please!

[5] Favorite spot for drinks.
OK, the Richmond’s great lack would be a good spot for good drinks. There are a lot of bars in the hood, but they are either hardcore dives (along Geary) or bars for college students and 20-somethings (mostly on Clement). None of my favorite bars are in the neighborhood. But I will commend Chomp N’ Swig, a chill beer place with decent bar food – spicy beef or bacon buttercrunch sandwiches. And Hot Sauce and Panko are right next door — they have the best chicken wings (7-8 different weekly flavors) in town and a plethora of hot sauces for purchase.

Photo credit: Thrillist

For a regular Richmond bar, my favorite is The Bitter End, for its name and its old-school, 2-story interior (like an Irish version of Vesuvius in North Beach).

Biiter End
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

[6] Favorite local hangout.
I mentioned earlier that tea is my poison. A great, quirky hangout is the Tal-Y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe on California and 26th Ave. You may have driven or walked by and noticed the life-size horse figure standing outside. It is a place to enjoy a modest afternoon tea (not the multi-course high tea enjoyed at the Sheraton Palace or the Ritz Carlton) with “Motorloaf” tea sandwiches, scones and crumpets (a tad over-priced).

Tal-Y-Tara Tea Polo Shoppe Sandwich
Photo credit: Tea Time Adventures

The charm of this place is that it is also a store that sells equipment for polo-playing, English and dressage riding, so you’re hanging out in a cute tea shoppe, surrounded by riding gear, apparel, and leather goods. A good place to overhear conversations about a world I used to be fascinated in childhood. On sunny days, their garden is a good option.

[7] Favorite breakfast spot.
I don’t have one favorite spot. I think this area’s favorite brunch is dim sum! In which case, I’m happy to have Hong Kong Lounge 2 blocks away. I’m not so happy about the huge lines of Chinese families weekdays(!) and even bigger lines weekends. They opened a second location further east on Geary, but even that one is getting mobbed too.

Har Gow
Photo credit: Kai Chan Vong

When the line bums me out, I opt to stand in the faster-moving line at Good Luck Dim Sum to satisfy my har gow (steamed shrimp dumpling) craving. You can actually see what’s the freshest dim sum as they bring out new big steamer trays constantly. Good Luck Dim Sum is a takeout hole in the wall with just the basics in dim sum, but there are tables for consuming your dim sum hot and fresh. Don’t mind the brusque Cantonese no-service service style and make sure you distinguish between a single item order and a batch order of 3, or you’ll piss off the tough ladies.

For a more regular breakfast, I finally tried Cassava recently on Balboa in outer Richmond and I really liked their food, the vibe, and the interior. They also serve lunch and dinner and they have about the best restaurant/cafe web site ever.

chicken katsu moco
Chicken katsu moco, photo credit: Cynthia Sasaki

I happily eat the kimchi huevos rancheros and chicken katsu moco at Grindz on Clement, a comfortable Hawaiian spot run by a very nice couple. B Star further east on Clement is a great Asian fusion brunch runner-up run by the Burma Super Star folks. Both places, as well as mediocre Eats, get the usual SF brunch lines, but I think this neighborhood is primed to support an additional *good* breakfast or brunch places. I would love to have a Plow or even a Just for You in our hood.

[8] Favorite lunch spot.
Noodle soup is my unfortunate addiction. I can satisfy this addiction at Pho Garden on Clement and 22nd. It isn’t my favorite pho joint in the city, but it’s a 5-minute walk away, family-friendly, clean and open all day on weekends. They offer decent standards of beef pho and pho ga along with a good bun rieu, but I’m bummed they removed the more interesting beef stew and the chicken curry noodle soups.

Pho Garden
Photo Credit: Pho Garden

I also like Turtle Tower’s second location on Geary for the Northern Vietnamese pho style (also, awesome chicken porridge for colds and foggy weather) and am glad to have Men Oh further east on Geary for a decent, authentic ramen. It’s the SF outpost of a Japanese ramen chain that serves Tokushima style ramen. There’s far better ramen in San Mateo and the South Bay and currently, for SF, I prefer the Ramen Underground, but I could do far worse than Men Oh for local ramen.

[9] Favorite dinner spot.
I love me some good Korean food. Um Ma Son is a modest mom place (vs. mom and pop), run by a nice, young grandmother. Except for a kitchen helper, she’s pretty much doing it on her own. My father has visited Korea for business quite a few times and he said her food is very close to what he’s had in Korean restaurants. It tastes like fine home cooking to me. Love the spicy shredded beef soup and the non-spicy short rib soup. The kalbi and tofu soup are excellent too. She makes great brown rice that I think she calls red rice and on weekends, she often serves fabulous fried chicken.

I also like a new-ish East European restaurant called Cafe Europa. It’s very cozy and comfortable inside. They make great staples like schnitzel, goulash, stroganoff and have good Polish beers. I heard they also offer brunch, but haven’t tried it yet. I would like to go more often, but with a toddler, I don’t get out for dinner very often these days.

Cafe Euopa
Photo credit: SF Examiner

For more of a special occasion splurge, my husband and I love the classic French bistro, Chapeau! (their exclamation mark, not mine). Yes, they bring you the check-in chapeaus, but that’s the only gimmicky thing they do. Run by a convivial chef, Philippe Gardelle, the restaurant offers really well-executed standards like duck leg confit, cassoulet, and rabbit in mustard sauce. Don’t miss the wonderful porcini-crusted veal sweetbreads app or their usually wonderful soup special. Also, keep an ear open for the specials. They often offer a meat special for 2 diners. Once it was a bone-in pork roast. Last time, my husband and I shared a really delicious bone-in prime rib roast. I was never so full in life after.

Chapeau leg of rabbit
Chapeau leg of rabbit, photo credit: Sumit Chachra

Aside from the food, I like the relaxing, neighborhood bistro feel and that you can actually converse with your dining companions without shouting at each other. Reservations are a must for the tables, but you can likely grab a couple of spots at the bar if you didn’t plan ahead.

[10] One thing you always do/spot you always take friends from out of town to do/see.

Other than the de Young observation tower and the Twin Peaks for their great views, I love taking visitors to the minuscule Jack Early Park on Grant St, Telegraph Hill. It feels like a secret garden with a panoramic view of the Embarcadero, Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge. The creator, Jack Early, called it the “biggest little park in town”.

Jack Early Park
Jack Early Park, photo credit: Brian

You can make a nice, full sunny day of it by also walking to Coit Tower, shopping the Grant St. boutiques and of course, eating and drinking through North Beach. I avoid the more touristy fare, but my favorites are the foccacia sammies at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store, cappuccino and tiramisu at Caffe Grecco, polenta brunch dishes and great pasta at Caffe Delucchi.

At the North Beach border, Reveille Coffee Co. on Columbus Ave sits at the tip of a triangular island block facing a busy 5-street intersection, so it’s a nice, lively hangout and the decor takes minimalist and beautiful advantage of it. The city is now riddled with hipster, artisanal coffee roasters and shops (in fact, another, Beacon is just across the street from Reveille), but Reveille manages to stand out with its coffee and location.

I still miss Jazz at Pearl’s, which closed some years ago after offering a chill hangout with great local and visiting players. Some good memories there. And eager to try to the new Tosca Cafe, revamped by April Bloomfield from the Spotted Pig, the Breslin and the John Dory Oyster Bar in New York.

Thanks Jackie!

Here are other great spots in San Francisco’s Sunset District (a lot of them supplied by Jackie which I have denoted with a (J):


EAT – Breakfast/Brunch:

> Heartbaker (1408 Clement St) sweet, little bakery with fantastic scones and coffee cake (J)
> Five Happiness (4142 Geary Blvd, between 6th Ave & 5th Ave) for piping hot Chinese donut with hot soy milk

EAT – Lunch/Dinner:

> Kappou Gomi (5524 Geary Blvd) modest Japanese restaurant that serves small plates  (J)
> Oyaji (3123 Clement St) authentic sushi and ramen (J)
> Ramen Izakaya Goku (3232 16th Street at Guerrero) go for their spicy bowl of garlic-crab ramen
> Angelina’s Cafe (6000 California St) nice, little cheese counter, plus a great chicken salad  (J)
> My Tofu House (4627 Geary Blvd) always good and hot Korean tofu soup (J)
> Amphawa Thai (5020 Geary Blvd) specializing in Northern Thai cuisine (J)
> Pizzetta 211 (211 23rd at California St.) neighborhood gem serving thin-crust pizzas
> Chino’s Taqueria (3416 Balboa btwn 35th & 36th Ave.) maybe the best burrito on the west side of town
> Aziza (5800 Geary Boulevard) Michelin-starred Morrocan food

DRINK – Coffee Shops:

> Cafe Barley (343 Clement St. at 5th Ave) serves Sightglass coffee in a gorgeous setting including patio (but no Wifi!)
>  Simple Pleasures (3434 Balboa) one of the oldest coffee spots in the Bay Area

DRINK – Bars:

> 540 Club (540 Clement St, between 6th Ave & 7th Ave) dive bar with a great martini
> Internos Wine Cafe (3240 Geary Blvd, between Spruce St & Parker Ave) casual neighborhood wine bar with small bites
> Ireland’s 32 (3920 Geary Blvd. at 3rd Avenue) old-school pub that pulls huge pints


> Beaches: Ocean, Baker or China (all cold!)
> Sutro Baths and Park (Point Lobos Ave) great outdoor spot full of SF history
> Mountain Lake Park (98 Funston) as many ducks as there are people at this little neighborhood park, dog lovers flock here
> Golden Gate Park
> deYoung Museum (50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr) fine arts museum located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park
> Legion of Honor Museum (100 34th Ave) great spot for photos, particularly at night
> Lands End and Mile Rock Beach


> Healthy Spirits (2299 15th St)  fantastic beer and liquor store (J)
> Green Apple Books (506 Clement St) an absolute classic and perennial favorite of San Franciscans (J)
> Park Life (220 Clement St) hip and fun art/bookstore, always a must-visit on Sunday afternoons (J)
> Seedstore (212 Clement St) higher-quality hipster clothing store, expensive but good to troll for great finds at sales (J)
> Covet Boutique (2042 Union St) intimate boutique with pretty and delicate jewelry great for presents to your girlfriends and check the $20 jewelry tree for great finds (J)
> Blackwell Spirits (5620 Geary Blvd) great wine/beer and liquor store, staff is knowledgeable, interesting wine selection (J)
> April in Paris (55 Clement St. at Arguello Street) Custom-made leather goods


Sunset is mainly a residential area so lodging is a bit tough to find. There is the lovely Inn at the Presidio (42 Moraga Ave.) but you are probably better off renting a private home or apartment via services like Airbnb. They have a great guide for the Richmond District that includes some of their locations to rent.


Here are other posts and guides from a few other local sources.
> Neighborhood blog, The Richmond District
> The Bold Italics, Dissecting the Pork Buns of the Inner Richmond

How about you? Do you have any Richmond additions? Have you been to this area of San Francisco? Did you find this post helpful for a future trip?

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