Photo Credit: Lauren Conklin

The Outer Richmond wakes up with buzzy new restaurants + indie shops

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The Outer Richmond has a rep for dense fog and great dim sum.

But while both can be found in abundance, there is much, much more to be had in this northwest corner of the city.


You'll find diverse local hangouts, cool indie boutiques, and family-owned restaurants tucked between pastel-colored homes. The vibe is what you might call sleepy; we call it a chill way to spend a day.

Eat & Drink

What the Richmond lacks in fancy restaurants and buzzing nightlife, it makes up for in mainstay eateries and funky dive bars. But a slew of new and innovative dining options is keeping things interesting.

Classic Restaurants + Bars

Perhaps the most famous dish in the Outer Richmond is Shanghai Dumpling King's (3319 Balboa St.) xiao long bao. These steamy dumplings are filled with hot soup, so waiting for them to cool is a must. // Date night at Gaspares (5546 Geary Blvd.) has all the romance and charm of the classic Italian joint—you know, the faux grapevines and Chianti bottles as decor. Enjoy comforting dishes like chicken cacciatore. // Upon seeing the sign to remove your shoes at Khan Toke Thai House (5937 Geary Blvd.), you'll know you're in for an authentic Thai dining experience. Try the signature salad, named to this year's 7x7 Big Eat. // Once in a while, you'll see a Korean tourist bus stopped outside of Han Il Kwan (1802 Balboa Ave)—they flock for the authentic cuisine and family-style seating that can accommodate groups large and small. Go for Korean barbecue with all the sides, or lighter dishes like kimchi pancakes and shrimp bibimbap. // Opened in 1937, Trad'r Sam's (6150 Geary Blvd.) is allegedly the oldest, longest operating tiki bar in the world. Their rum drinks and easily gulpable scorpion bowls have been giving people the Sunday Scaries for 80 years.

Now Trending

The newest kid on the block is Lokma (1801 Clement St.), serving Cal-meets-Turkish fare for brunch and dinner. In the a.m., dip into blackberry ginger bulgur and Greek yogurt pancakes; at dinner, look for a lamb-and-beef burger, tender stuffed manti, and whole grilled branzino. // New sushi spot Nobuyuki (2221 Clement St.) is a hidden gem that's already garnered a loyal following among those love to settle in for a fresh omakase and let the chef call all the shots. // Tucked away on a residential side street, Pizzetta 211 (211 23rd St.) is a true neighborhood joint and pizza and craft brew heaven. The wait is worth it for a taste of the rosemary, fiore sardo and pine nut pie, on this year's Big Eat. // You may recognize their oft-instagrammed wallpaper, but the pizza and wine list at Fiorella (2339 Clement St.) is also worthy of admiration. On warm days, hang on the patio. Tuesdays are burger nights. // If piña coladas at Trad'r Sam's aren't your thing, hit Cassava (3519 Balboa St.) for grown-up drinks such as the housemade blood orange and rosemary Pimm's Cup, which will pair just perfectly with that Liège waffle topped with maple lemon ricotta and powdered sugar at brunch.

Bakeries + Coffee

Marla Bakery (3619 Balboa St.) began as a stand at the farmer's market; now this spot, owned by two former Nopa chefs, is one of the best brunch spots in the city. // Down the street you'll see locals sunbathing and enjoying excellent coffee from Simple Pleasures Cafe (3434 Balboa St.) // House of Bagels (5030 Geary Blvd.) has been serving up Brooklyn-style bagels and and classic Jewish delicatessen eats since 1962. // In "Little Russia," one of SF's more esoteric 'hoods, you'll find Moscow & Tbilisi Bakery (5540 Geary Blvd.) Order potato piroshki's and blintzes to go, they'll fill you up for less than $5.

Things to Do in Outer Richmond

Specialty Shops

Balboa Village is the Richmond's answer to the Sunset's Judah Street—full of unique, independent shops. At Local Strange (3243 Balboa St.), you might imagine that someone had expertly scoured about 40 garage sales and threw in a little mid-century Danish design in the mix. You'll find legit Eames chairs and Marimekko textiles in this boutique setting. // On the same street, Better; for Living (3425 Balboa St.) is"part showroom, part retail experience, part menagerie"—in other words, look for daring emerging labels and vintage items for your home and closet. // Next door, Noise (3427 Balboa St.) has a great assortment of vinyl records. Check their calendar for live jazz shows. // In the greenhouse at Clement Nursery (1921 Clement St.) you'll find otherworldly terrariums and vines wandering amongst antique chandeliers.

Culture

Catch a flick at the historic Balboa Theatre (3630 Balboa St.), designed by the architect brothers James and Merritt Reid also behind structures including the Fairmont Hotel and Spreckels Temple. Go for box office hits as well as independent films. // You don't need to travel all the way to Moscow to see those iconic onion domes. Holy Virgin Cathedral (6210 Geary Blvd.) is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral outside of Russia and has five onion domes covered in 24-karat gold leaf. The interior can only be seen by those who attend services.

The Outdoors

You already know that Land's End is one of the great urban hikes in SF. So instead of turning left after the Cliff House and Sutro Baths, hang a right into Sutro Heights Park, where you'll find more ruins of the Sutro estate and one of the best views of the sunset over the Pacific. The view of Ocean Beach and the western neighborhoods ain't too shabby either.

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