Life in the Inner Sunset: Neighborhood Guide

East of 19th Avenue and south of Golden Gate Park lies the Inner Sunset — a quiet destination neighborhood with village vibes in the heart of San Francisco.

This laid back neighborhood, known for its persistent fog, features a bustling “downtown” along the Irving Street commercial corridor, where neighbors can get their morning cup of joe from Snowbird while waiting for the N-Judah and enjoy an array of leisure activities — from dinner at Nopalito to drinks at Social Kitchen & Brewery — any night of the week.

On Irving Street and the Lower Avenues, you will find a collection of restaurants offering foods from various ethnic backgrounds, small boutiques carrying local and hard-to-find labels, and one of San Francisco’s best bakeries. These thriving independent businesses have helped foster a strong sense of community amongst neighbors and regulars, creating an “everybody knows your name” atmosphere around the Inner Sunset.

Wander just two blocks north of Irving Street and you will find yourself in Golden Gate Park, where locals squeeze in early morning jogs and over 13 million tourists visit cultural destinations like the Japanese Tea Gardens and world-class de Young Museum each year.

Intersection at 9th and Judah. Photo: Justin Wong,
Intersection at 9th and Judah. Photo: Justin Wong,

The N-Judah light rail offers quick and easy access to Downtown San Francisco, Financial District, South of Market, and the Outer Sunset to residents in need of a change of pace or an escape from the summer’s persistent fog. The neighborhood is also bordered by trendy and bohemian neighborhoods, Cole Valley and Upper Haight (Haight-Ashbury), providing alternative entertainment, dining, and nightlife options all within walking distance.

While the Inner Sunset enjoys a number of big city conveniences, it remains a largely residential — making it an extremely family-friendly neighborhood. Brightly colored homes file along the Inner Sunset’s quiet residential streets.

Development of the Inner Sunset’s homes didn’t begin until 1887 and continued throughout the 20th century, resulting in an eclectic assortment of architectural styles ranging from San Francisco’s iconic Victorians to Henry Doelger’s Mediterranean Revival and Styleocrat homes. Prior to its development, the entirety of the Sunset District was a desolate wasteland of sand dunes leading up to Ocean Beach. The region was then known as the “Outside Lands.” Today, the neighborhood attracts approximately 200,000 music fans to the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival every second weekend in August.

UCSF Parnassus. Photo: Justin Wong,
UCSF Parnassus. Photo: Justin Wong,

With detached single family homes being the norm in the Inner Sunset, the neighborhood is ideal for the many young families who live there. And because of its proximity to the UCSF Parnassus medical campus and San Francisco State University, the Inner Sunset is also home to a large population of students and young professionals.

The entirety of the Sunset District remains one of San Francisco’s most desirable, yet relatively affordable neighborhoods. In February 2017, homes in the Inner Sunset sold for $1.74 million on average, a 39.2% increase from February 2016, and a 129.6% increase from February 2012. Click here to see homes for sale in the Inner Sunset.

With so much to offer, it’s hard to find a reason to venture out of this savory slice of San Francisco. Except for when Karl the Fog rolls in… maybe.

Where to Eat in the Inner Sunset

San Tung. Photo: Weegee010, Wikimedia. Creative Commons.
San Tung. Photo: Weegee010, Wikimedia. Creative Commons.

San Tung
$$ | 1031 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122
Being a Chinese restaurant, San Tung isn’t a place you’d expect to find what might be the best wings in the city. Their dry fried chicken wings are messy, but every time you take a bite out of those perfectly crunchy, saucy, and flavorful wings, you’ll be hooked for life. The wait does usually tend to be ridiculous, so reservations are strongly advised.
Order: Dry-Fried Chicken Wings, String Beans, Dumplings
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday: 11:00AM–3:00PM; 5:00PM–9:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays.
Website: San Tung

Izakaya Sozai
$$ | 1500 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA
An intimate Japanese restaurant specializing in ramen and other traditional small plate items. Though very delicious, the ramen alone probably will not fill you, so definitely explore their menu for great appetizers. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Order: Start off with House Chicken Wings or Takoyaki, Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen with Pork Belly, a Deep Fried Egg, and Spicy Miso
Hours: Monday – Friday: 5:30PM – 10PM, Saturday: 5PM – 11PM, Sunday: 5PM – 10PM

Nopalito. Photo: Justin Wong,

$$ | 1224 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA
One of the hottest restaurants in the city, Nopalito serves organic traditional Mexican cuisine 7 days a week during lunch and dinner.
Order: Carnitas, Enchiladas de Mole Poblano con Pollo, Huevos de Caja
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:30AM – 10PM

Where to Drink in the Inner Sunset

Social Kitchen & Brewery. Photo: Justin Wong,
Social Kitchen & Brewery. Photo: Justin Wong,

Social Kitchen & Brewery 
$$ | 1326 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA
With a terrific menu of house brews and creative pub fare, Social Kitchen & Brewery is a great place to go for happy hour, a late night eats, and they also have an awesome weekend brunch menu.
Order: I.P.A, Social Burger, Wings, Truffle Mac & Cheese
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 4PM – 11PM, Friday: 4PM – 12AM, Saturday: 11:30AM – 12AM, Sunday: 11:30AM – 10PM

Yancy’s Saloon 
$ | 734 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA
Located in Inner Sunset, Yancy’s is a spacious low key saloon with friendly bartenders, plenty of TVs, and an area where patrons can play darts.
Order: Beer & Shots
Hours: Monday: 4:00PM–2:00AM, Tuesday-Thursday: 2:00PM–2:00AM, Friday: 4:00PM–2:00AM, Saturday-Sunday: 12:00PM–2:00AM
Website: Yancy’s Saloon

The Little Shamrock
$ | 807 Lincoln Way, San Francisco, CA
The Little Shamrock is your neighborhood pub located right across Golden Gate Park with great pours and a wide selection of fun boardgames for your entertainment.
Order: Beer & Shots
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 3PM – 2AM, Friday: 2PM – 2AM, Saturday – Sunday: 1PM – 2AM
Website: The Little Shamrock

Where to Caffeinate in the Inner Sunset

Arizmendi Bakery. Photo: Justin Wong,
Arizmendi Bakery. Photo: Justin Wong,

Arizmendi Bakery
$ | 1331 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Freshly baked bread, sweets, and thin crust pizzas is what you’ll find at Arizmendi Bakery. This worker owned establishment is a sister cooperative to the renown Cheeseboard located in Berkeley which opened 40 years ago.
Order: Scones, Wolverine Rolls, Fresh Baguettes, Focaccia Breads
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 7AM – 7PM, Saturday – Sunday: 7:30AM – 6PM

Tart to Tart
$ | 641 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA
Sweet, sweet, pastries, ice cream, whole or by the slice pies, tarts, and cakes, Tart to Tart is your best bet for dessert or an afternoon snack if you’re ever in the Inner Sunset. There is also ample space where guests can settle in and catch up on some work or just enjoy a good meal.
Order: Fruit Tart, Chocolate Mousse Cake, Cheesecakes
Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 6AM – 11PM, Friday – Saturday: 6AM – 12AM
Website: Tart to Tart

Snowbird Coffee. Photo: Justin Wong,
Snowbird. Photo: Justin Wong,

Snowbird Coffee
$ | 1352A 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 
Located just steps away from Golden Gate Park, stopping by Snowbird Coffee before a long day of exploring is a no brainer. This intimate coffee shop is a great place to grab a cup of joe or latte and also includes a cozy lounge area with free Wi-Fi.
Order: Pour-Over Coffee, Lattes
Hours: Monday – Friday: 7AM – 6PM, Saturday – Sunday: 8AM – 6PM

$ | 1435 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA
Definitely a hidden gem of Inner Sunset, Hollow is a cute, intimate café that serves excellent lattes and baked goods daily.
Order: Butterscotch Latte
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8AM – 5PM, Saturday – Sunday: 9AM – 6PM

Where to Shop in the Inner Sunset

San Franpsycho. Photo: Justin Wong,
San Franpsycho. Photo: Justin Wong,

San Franpsycho
$$ | 1248 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122
San Franpsycho is as bonkers as it’s name indicates. There aren’t too many places you can go to pick up a nice cup of coffee or ice cream and shop for localized SF apparel. San Franpsycho is the perfect place to find unique streetwear that you can proudly don to rep your city, or the best souvenir gift you’ve ever given.
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:00AM–9:00PM, Sunday: 10:00AM–7:00PM

$$ | 601 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA 94122
Wishbone is filled with wonderful home decor items in addition to books, baby gifts, cards, jewelry, and much more. If you’re in need of unique and trendy gift items Wishbone is the store for you.
Hours: Daily: 11:00AM–6:00PM

$$ | 756 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA 94122
has been delivering excellent customer care and the best of women’s fashion since 1996. Earning multiple awards for “Best Boutique” since 2002, Ambiance is sure to help you find the perfect show-stopping outfit for any occasion.
Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 10AM–7PM, Friday – Saturday: 10AM–8PM

Where to Get Outdoors in the Inner Sunset

View From Grand View Park. Photo: Kyle Legg,
View From Grand View Park. Photo: Kyle Legg,

Grand View Park
14th Ave & Moraga St, San Francisco, CA
Located in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset district, the view of the city atop Grand View Park is just as “grand” as its name dictates. A short walk up the beautiful mosaic staircase leads to Turtle Hill, where you will be blown away by 360-degree views of the city.
Hours: Daily: 5AM – 12AM

Golden Gate Heights Park
12th Ave & Rockridge, San Francisco, CA
Equipped with tennis courts, a playground, open field areas, and short hiking trails, Golden Gate Heights Park is the perfect place to spend sunny days outdoors.
Hours: Daily: 5AM – 12AM

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