Java Beach café
Devil’s Teeth Baking Company
A sunny day at Ocean Beach
Judah to Noriega; the Great Highway to 45th Avenue
Surfers have flocked to Ocean Beach since Jack O’Neill invented the wetsuit. But despite its good waves, many long believed that this hinterland didn’t have the genes of a surf enclave à la Bondi or Venice (“too foggy and no good food,” went the rhetoric). They were wrong: OB has done a backflip from its days of bitter coffee and shredded hash browns (not that those aren’t still abundant), with a milieu all its own—part Malibu, part Valencia Street, and part Anchorage.
Judah Street commenced OB’s coming-of-age in 2009, when young pelagic artists opened Outerlands (4001 Judah St.) and the General Store (4035 Judah St.). But now it’s Noriega Street’s time to shine. Between 45th and 46th avenues, four storefronts have cropped up this year.
At Establish (3811 Noriega St.), Erica Maver and Sara Stockalper sell a wonderland of beach-inspired photography, clothes, and jewelry (think Lady Gaga–style anchor necklaces). Next door, Christina Johnson and her partner Michael Rosene, an avid wave rider, pour rare Portuguese and Italian whites at Coast (3815 Noriega St.), their new wine and oyster bar. “What—surfers are supposed to just drink cheap beer?” says Johnson, who lives down the street from the bar.
At Devil’s Teeth Baking Company’s new parklet (3876 Noriega St.), techies with salt-crusted eyelashes pitch app iterations while sipping Bicycle Coffee delivered via two wheels. Others talk swell forecasts with the owners of Sunset Shapers (3896 Noriega St.) and Woodshop (3725 Noriega St.), two stylish surfboard-shaping shacks.
Those looking for single-family homes will find the prices reasonable and the style charmingly tract: colorful, gloom-proof gems designed in the ’30s fashion, with little backyards begging for post-surf barbecues—if you don’t mind the fog.
Affordability: B (rent for a two-bedroom house, $2,600; cost of a two-bedroom, $675,000)
Walkability to amenities: B (All the new spots are on two blocks, but a few dives and an occasional beach bonfire remain the only nightlife)
Public transportation: C+ (16X, 18, 71, 71L, N Muni lines, but you likely won’t make it downtown within 20 minutes)
Weather: C- (Summer forecast: 62 degrees, constant fog)
Safety: B+ (Violent crime is lower than the city average, although car break-ins are higher)
The bummer: Convincing friends to make the long trek out to your house
Read More: The Bay Area's top 10 neighborhoods
Polk Gulch: For bustling nightlife (just don't call it the next Valencia)
Richmond Annex: For the no-strings-attached white picket fence
NoPa: Because it's the Mission 10 years ago
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.