The skyline from Alamo Square Park.
Shoppers at Rare Device
The Sunday farmers’ market on Grove
Fulton to Fell; Masonic to Divisadero
Those feeling displaced by the fancy restaurants crowding the Mission will be happy to know that this neighborhood is still accepting applications from the young and ironic. Divisadero Street—the retail-driven thoroughfare that slices through the area formerly known as the Western Addition—is more comely now that it has been landscaped. And Nopa (560 Divisadero St.), the game-changing restaurant that gave the neighborhood its new name, continues to lure throngs of diners.
Take it from Jeremy Tooker, the founder of Four Barrel Coffee and one of the true OG hipsters. If all goes as planned, by the beginning of January the tatted-up barista turned businessman will have just opened his second coffee shop in a space called the Mill (736 Divisadero St.), shared by Josey Baker Bread. Tooker chose to locate here for a reason. “It still feels authentic—it’s got a working-class feel,” he says, proudly pointing out the Popeyes just across the way, as well as Da Pitt BBQ & Soul Food (705 Divisadero St.), a crusty old barbecue joint.
By early January, there will be a wine bar called the Wine Kitchen (507 Divisadero St.), and stores abound: You can get a $27 T-shirt from San Franpsycho (505 Divisadero St.), a snow-skate-surf shop; find your Warby Parker frames at the Perish Trust (728 Divisadero St.); and buy beautiful housewares from Rare Device (600 Divisadero St.). And yes, skaters too become parents. For them, Pacific Primary, one of the most sought-after preschools in San Francisco, has two schools located across the road from each other on Grove Street.
The neighborhood will really be rolling by early 2013, when Bi-Rite Market (550 Divisadero St.) opens its second location right next to Nopa, complete with a scoop shop. Owner Sam Mogannam, who was raised in San Francisco, has eyed this location for years. “One of the friends I went to high school with started the Justice League, which is now the Independent (628 Divisadero St.),” he says of the popular music venue down the street. But for Mogannam, as for any good native, this part of the city will always be the Western Addition.
Affordability: C+ (rent for a two-bedroom apartment, $3,700; cost of a two-bedroom, $575,000)
Walkability to amenities: B+ (Most commerce is accessible on four blocks of Divis, though some stores stray from the central area)
Public transportation: C (5, 21, 24, 43 Muni lines; no direct connection to BART)
Weather: B (Summer forecast: 68 degrees, partly cloudy)
Safety: B- (A relatively high number of car thefts)
The bummer: if you’re looking for postcard-perfect, keep searching—busy Divisadero cuts right through this neighborhood
Read More: The Bay Area's top 10 neighborhoods
Ocean Beach: For a reminder that this is a beach town
Polk Gulch: For bustling nightlife (just don't call it the next Valencia)
Richmond Annex: For the no-strings-attached white picket fence
Uptown Oakland: For a nonstop art orgy
North Beach East: For Little Italy charm without the tourist kitsch
Mission Creek: Because it's the new locavore mecca
Hayes Valley: For a livable MoMA
Dogpatch: Because it's an urban laboratory
Burlingame Terrace: Because maybe Pleasantville isn't lame after all
Originally published in the January 2013 issue of San Francisco.