Chinatown is one of the most unique and historic neighborhoods in San Francisco. Amid the colorful shops, sumptuous dim sum, and music echoing between the alley ways, you’ll find a vibrant culture that makes up the oldest Chinatown in North America. This neighborhood also boasts the largest concentration of a Chinese community outside of Asia. Chinatown may be in the heart of San Francisco, but the combination of generations of immigrants and a constant influx of tourists makes this enclave feel like an exotic land.
Why You’ll Love San Francisco Chinatown
San Francisco Chinatown is centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street and is bordered by the Telegraph Hill and North Beach neighborhoods. The official entrance, called the Dragon Gate, stands proudly at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Bush Street, emblazoned with colorful ornamentation and sculpted dragons.
If you’re looking for a vibrant, bustling neighborhood, Chinatown is known to receive more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge. While Grant Avenue mostly caters to tourists, Stockton Street and all the side streets and alleys are filled with mom and pop grocery shops, little cafes, and quaint apartments. If you love produce and fish markets, pork buns fresh from the bakery, the smell of incense wafting through the air, and a jovial type of hustle and bustle, San Francisco Chinatown will steal your heart.
Friendly Community Next to Downtown
Situated right next to downtown San Francisco, Chinatown is within walking distance to several prominent San Francisco neighborhoods, including North Beach, the Financial District, Nob Hill, and Union Square. The edges of the Chinatown neighborhood are a little more quiet and calm than the center and blend into the other neighborhoods running along the Chinatown borders.
Chinatown was one of the earliest neighborhoods to be developed in San Francisco and harkens back to the late 1840s Gold Rush. The sense of community runs deep in this neighborhood, with some generations being able to trace their lineage back to the first settlers of Chinatown. The unique history of Chinatown has created a neighborhood that values community, family, and traditional Chinese culture.
Great Schools Close By
There are a number of excellent schools in Chinatown, including the well known St. Mary’s School and Chinese Catholic Center on Kearny Street. Other schools include the Chinese Central High School, Nam Kue School, and the Gordon J Lau Elementary School. The immersion-type atmospheres of the schools provide a great way for children to learn Chinese while studying in the English language.
In addition to being within walking distance of several downtown neighborhoods, Chinatown is also well connected to the rest of the city by bus lines. There are bus lines that lead all the way out to the Richmond district and which pass through several neighborhoods, such as Nob Hill and Pacific Heights, on the way.
Since downtown is a five minute walk away from the Dragon Gate, subway lines and Bay Area Rapid Transit lines are also easily accessible. You have access to anywhere public transit will take you, including to the East Bay. If you’re driving, heavy traffic is normal, but the freeways and main streets are easy to reach during off peak times. And, of course, walking is always an option. As a bonus, the Chinatown hills make for incredible views of the city and the bay.
Cuisine and Nightlife
It goes without saying that you pretty much have your pick of Asian cuisine in Chinatown. Everything from dim sum to sushi to Vietnamese sandwiches are around every corner. San Francisco Chinatown is even believed to be the birthplace of Westernized Chinese cuisine. Since Chinatown borders North Beach, you’ll also have convenient access to the best Italian food in San Francisco.
If there’s one thing Chinatown is never short on, it’s entertainment. Several festivals occur in this neighborhood throughout the year, including the big Autumn Moon celebration that fills the district with food stalls, vendors, music, and delicious mooncakes. For your everyday nights, there are a number of popular bars including the Buddha Lounge, Noc Noc on Broadway, and the Li Po Cocktail Lounge which was visited by famous food critic Anthony Bourdain.
San Francisco Chinatown Real Estate
Chinatown’s real estate market is as unique as the neighborhood itself. Since families in Chinatown tend to inherit homes, when houses do come on the market, they go fast.
Whether you’re a home buyer or home seller, work with an experienced San Francisco real estate agent to get a deal everyone is happy about. If Chinatown has caught your eye, reach out! The SFhotlist Team and Keller Williams San Francisco would love to help.