Your guide to San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood
The People’s Guide is Curbed SF’s tour of neighborhoods, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We’ll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This time around, we welcome Sally Kuchar (that’s me!), the former editor of Curbed SF and current cities director for Curbed.
What’s the neighborhood housing stock like? We have a healthy mix of rent-controlled apartments, newish condos, and opulent, over-the-top co-ops. It’s dense—backyards are uncommon and no one has a front yard; single-family homes are basically nonexistent.
Better for buyers or renters? There is a lot of inventory because of density, but I’d say it’s better for rentals based on sheer volume of units. I was lucky enough to score a rent-controlled one-bedroom for under $2500/month (the neighborhood’s rich with apartments before 1979), but the average studio (as of October, 2016) rents for $2,425 and a one-bedroom rents for $2,995/month. Need a 4-bedroom? Those are averaging $7,900/month. It gets way more expensive when it comes to buying property. The median price per square foot in Nob Hill right now is $1,127, and the median sale per square foot is $1,150. This isn’t a good neighborhood for starter homes, but is a great place for renting longterm.
Do you need a car to get around? No, but you will live on a hill, so get ready for calf development. Between cable cars, multiple bus lines (10, 12, 27, 9, and more), and a slew of ride- and car-sharing services, you won’t ever run out of options on how to get somewhere, and quickly.
Most reliable public transit? Just walk! It’s a beautiful neighborhood.
Nearest grocery store? Le Beau Grocery is our beloved local grocer, although we all also shop at Trader Joe’s down on California and Hyde.
Good for kids? I’m not sure because I don’t have any. You’d have to be fine with apartment living … a spacious abode around these parts will cost big bucks. In-unit laundry is a luxury item, and the local grocers don’t really cater to families. That said, Huntington Park has an amazing playground, and there are so many museums and community centers within walking distance. It’s also a pretty safe neighborhood by San Francisco standards.
Best place to get a coffee? There are plenty of beloved local joints, but my personal fav is Contraband Coffee Bar.
Best park? I could argue that Huntington Park is not just the best in Nob Hill, but in all of San Francisco. (Take that, Dolores Park!) It’s immaculate—the lawns, the foliage, the fountains. It’s also smashed between Grace Cathedral, the Pacific-Union Club, Huntington Hotel, and a row of pretty tony co-ops on Sacramento Street. The views cannot be beat, and the locals congregate there on the regular. Every time I’m there I run into people I know from the neighborhood.
Beloved neighborhood joint? Nob Hill Cafe for big bowls of pasta (and romance); Cordon Bleu for cheap Vietnamese; Swan Oyster Depot when it first opens so you can avoid the line; Bob’s Donuts for the perfect crumb donut; newcomer Hot Sauce and Panko for finally bringing decent cheap eats to the neighborhood; the Tonga Room for when you need a night out.
Best-kept secret? The cable cars are a really practical way to get around, and your monthly Muni pass covers the otherwise expensive $7 one-way fare. BONUS secret: The Fairmont Hotel has an exquisite and often empty roof garden that is open to the public.
Stereotypical residents? Rich snobs.
Are the stereotypes true? Friendly, affluent yuppies and seniors seems more appropriate.
Who wouldn’t be happy here? Acrophobians.
Most common sight? Millennials on their way to brunch and happy seniors walking their small dogs.
Final word? I hope I die of old age on this hill. That’s how much I love it.