San Francisco/Bernal Heights

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Bernal Heights, just south of the Mission District of San Francisco, is a cute, eclectic neighborhood that was once very working class, but is becoming quickly gentrified. Sister to the Castro, this neighborhood is very popular with the lesbian community. The main commercial drag of the neighborhood is located along Cortland Avenue.



Sights and Activities

Bernal Hill. The top is more than 40 acres of grassy open space, with views of the San Francisco Bay and Mt. Diablo to the east, downtown San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Twin Peaks and Noe Valley to the west and a rise of hills leading up to San Bruno Mountain in the south. People come and run their dogs here and watch eclipses, sunrises, sunsets, the Blue Angels and wildlife. There's been a celebrated coyote since 2003; recent sightings confirm it's still there. There are nooks and crannies and stairs and weeds and it's a big, big, well-loved back yard.
Bernal Heights neighborhood. Take a wander around losing yourself amongst the pretty houses and the charm, it's a fine way to spend an afternoon.



Events and Festivals


  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.


  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.



Getting There

The MUNI Metro J -Church line runs along the western boundary of the area from downtown. From the J line you can just walk into the area or easily transfer to one of the following MUNI bus lines:

24-Divisadero from the Church and 30th Metro station. From the station, you can take the #24 east down 30th Street and Cortland Avenue through Bernal Heights before continuing onto Bayview-Hunters Point.
23-Monterey from the Glen Park station. From the station, the #23 heads up Bosworth and Mission Streets before turning right onto Crescent Avenue, running along the southern end of the district and into Bayview-Hunters Point.

Other bus routes which serve the area include the 14-Mission and the 49-Mission/Van Ness, which run right down Mission Street from the north and south, and the 67-Bernal Heights, which runs through much of Bernal Heights from the 24th Street BART station.




Restaurants of every price and cuisine are found on Mission St between Cesar Chavez and Brook St – too many to list here. Cortland Ave is also a popular corridor.

Baby Blues BBQ, 3149 Mission St (between Cesar Chavez St and Powers Ave), ☏ +1-415-896-4250. Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM. Slightly overpriced gourmet BBQ with hot waitresses.
Blue Plate, 3218 Mission St (at Valencia), ☏ +1-415-282-6777. M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F–Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM, Su 5:30PM-9:30PM. Expensive but wonderful "New American" cuisine with impressive artwork on the walls, and racy photography in the bathrooms. The macaroni and cheese is a must. edit
Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, 18 Virginia Ave (between 29th and 30th), ☏ +1-415-206-2086. Su-Th 5:30PM-10:30PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11:30PM. A fun, casual restaurant for hipsters. Do not expect fine dining or "authenticity" - just good spaghetti and big meatballs (the Caesar salad is delish, too). Beware the dangerous dive bar next door.
The Front Porch, 65a 29th St (at Mission). 5:30PM-10:30PM. Well prepared southern food. Fried chicken and fried okra are favorites.
Good Frikin' Chicken, 10 29th St (at Mission), ☏ +1-415-695-7800. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Excellent middle-eastern chicken. Specializes in rotisserie and grilled whole chicken. Often runs out of rotisserie before 8PM.
Martha & Bros, 745 Cortland Ave (between Anderson and Ellsworth), ☏ +1-415-642-7585. M-Sa 5:15AM-8PM, Su 6AM-7PM. Hands down, the strongest coffee on the strip. Martha & Bros. is part of a six-shop San Francisco chain. The smiling, mostly Hispanic female staff, crack-of-dawn hours (it opens at 5:30AM), big pastries and reasonable prices make the place a favorite of newspaper readers, working men and the California Highway Patrol.
Mitchell's Ice Cream, 688 San Jose Ave (at 29th St), ☏ +1-415-648-2300. 11AM-11PM daily. Mitchell's has been serving the best ice cream and sorbets in SF since 1953. Choose from traditional fare or exotic flavors such as avocado, buko (baby coconut), guava, langka (jackfruit), macapuno (sweet coconut), mango, pineapple and ube (purple yam).
Moki's Sushi & Pacific Grill, 615 Cortland Ave (between Anderson and Moultrie), ☏ +1-415-970-9336. Su-Th 5:30PM-9:30PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. This peach-walled fish chop shop serves fun maki rolls, including a variety with tempura'd ingredients. Its also got killer barbeque spare ribs with wasabi mashed potatoes and steamed greens on its small-plates menu. A good time, often packed, so get there early.
Moonlight Cafe, 634 Cortland Ave (between Anderson and Moultrie), ☏ +1-415-647-6448. M-F 6:30AM-6PM, Sa-Su 7AM-5PM. A creperie with some great taste sensations. If you're hungry, the Mediterranean platter will fill you up. The toasted bagels with cream cheese, sun-dried tomato and cucumber are perfect, as is the lavender or ginger lemonade.
Progressive Grounds, 400 Cortland Ave (at Bennington), ☏ +1-415-282-6233. M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa-Su 7:30AM-8PM. A perfect Bernal Heights cafe. Serves up some great coffee drinks and a good selection of salads and lavash wrapped sandwiches. The hummus will make anyone think twice about buying hummus from a grocery store again. Great service. A great place for all types and ages. Kids have their fun with Enzo and his assorted instruments every Sunday. PG also has a nice garden space in the back.
Taqueria Can-cun (not to be confused with Cancun), 3211 Mission St (at Valencia St), ☏ +1-415-550-1414. M-Th 9AM-12:45AM, F-Sa 9AM-2:45AM, Su 9AM-1AM. Simply the best taqueria in San Francisco, especially if you've had a few drinks at the Knockout or Argus Lounge. The Quesadilla Suiza with some horchata to sip on is just killer.
Zante Pizza, 3489 Mission St (at Cortland), ☏ +1-415-821-3949. 11AM-3PM, 5PM-11PM daily. Indian pizza! Need we say more?




The Knockout, 3223 Mission St (at Valencia), ☏ +1-415-550-6994. A quirky hipster bar with old arcade games and on some nights, live bands of varying talent.
Rock Bar, 80 29th St (at Mission). Neighborhood bar with strong, affordable, and creative cocktails. Owned by the same people as the Front Porch, across the street.
The Royal Cuckoo, 3202 Mission St (at Valencia), ☏ +1-415-550-8667. A new cocktail bar serving outstanding Manhattans and other more unusual concoctions in a setting that feels like an old hunting lodge. A must if you like sipping bourbon and other aperitifs to old-timey music.
Skip's Tavern, 453 Cortland Ave (at Wool), ☏ +1-415-282-3456. Live blues music spills from this dive located in the heart of Bernal Heights. Good for a game of pool or darts. The bright lights destroy any potential ambiance.
VinoRosso, 629 Cortland Ave (at Anderson), ☏ +1-415-647-1268. M-F 4PM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su 2PM-10PM. A great little wine bar with emphasis on Italian varieties.
Wild Side West, 424 Cortland Ave (at Wool), ☏ +1-415-647-3099. 1PM-2AM daily. Although it's a lesbian bar, this neighborhood watering hole welcomes all. Inexpensive beer flows from the taps. In the winter time, a fire burns in the main room, which includes a small pool table. But the most interesting aspect to this bar is the outside garden in the back, best enjoyed on warmer days and nights. The garden is heavily decorated with sculptures and lights. Find a nook to cuddle up with a loved one while sipping a drink.



Keep Connected


There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.


See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.


The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 13:48 on Sep 18, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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