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Melting Pot: Neighborhood Spotlight on the Richmond and Sunset Districts of San Francisco

October 6, 2008

The Richmond and the Sunset.

Sometimes referred to as second Chinatown, home to a string of spirited Irish pubs, and crowded along its main thoroughfares with eateries of every nationality, th Richmond is a true cultural melting pot.  To start experimenting, walk down Clement Street and don’t be scared off by the lack of polish.  Delicious Chinese, Burmese Thai or Vietnamese food may be served in dining rooms that look a little rough around the edges.  The Plough & Stars, at the eastern end of Clement, is a good place to enjoy a perfectly poured Guiness, perhaps hear some live Irish music and ponder your next move.

That move may be to head out to the ocean’s edge.  Along the way you’ll pass by block after block of nice stucco single family homes.  Known as “the Avenues”, 48 streets that run north-south from the Inner Richmond out to the ocean (not to be confused with numbered “Streets” running east-west from Market Street south through the Mission), this is a largely working class neighborhood.  Geary Boulevard a block south of Clement, is the main traffic artery and where you’ll find grocery stores, post offices, home furnishing stores, the old Coronet movie theatre, and hundreds more small restaurants.

On the shores of the Pacific Ocean you’ll find the recently remodeled Cliff House, a great place for lunch or a glass of wine overlooking the water.  On a sunny day you may want to join the dogs frolicking on the beach for a walk in the sand.  Another perfect sunny day spot is the back patio and lawn of the Beach Chalet.  Located next to the Dutch Windmill at the end of Golden Gate Park, the Chalet houses a park visitor’s center as well as a restaurant and brewery.

Continue along the Great Highway and you’ll find yourself in the Outer Sunset.  Like its neighbor to the north, the Sunset is another large working class neighborhood characterized by modest single family homes.  Although commonly recognized as the foggiest neighborhood in the city, its unpretentious atmosphere and proximity to the ocean and Golden Gate Park, make it an extremely livable neighborhood.

Popular restaurants and shops are centered around the intersection of 9th and Irving, a block off the southern edge of the Park and not far from the UCSF campus.  Ebisu serves up some of the best sushi in the city and Blackthorn Tavern is a friendly spot to linger over a pint.

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