Bordered by Golden Gate Park to the north, UCSF to the east, and 12th Avenue to the west, the Inner Sunset is a largely un-touristed part of the city that feels more like a village all its own, where residents enjoy shopping locally and meeting up at neighborhood cafes, bars, and restaurants.
While it gets less attention than its busier neighbor the Outer Sunset, the Inner Sunset is a place where you can order a craft cocktail from a bar that opened up less than a year ago or quaff a Guinness from a pub that’s been around for 125 years. And there are certain Sundays when an outdoor flea market with live local music is held half a block away from where the farmers’ market is simultaneously taking place, accompanied by another local musician.
Sign up for DIY workshops for gardening, sewing or pottery painting. Tingle your taste buds with flavors from Korea, Vietnam and India, then cool your palate with a fresh mint ice cream from San Francisco’s original small-batch creamery.
Inner Sunset’s Best Restaurants + Bars
It's worth the wait outside San Tung (1031 Irving St.) for Northern Chinese–style food including their famous dry-fried chicken wings. // The specialties at Rose Indian Cuisine (1386 9th Ave.) include multiple varieties of curry pots, lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetarian as well as biryanis; chef Om Kandel takes pride in sourcing authentic spices and the best local produce. // Fiorella (1240 9th Ave.) is the spot for pizzas, pasta, and craft cocktails with a few different seating areas including a rooftop balcony. // If you're in the mood for sushi, treat yourself to chef Kiyoshi's rolls and shared plates at Koo (408 Irving St.). // Manna (845 Irving St.) is a neighborhood favorite for Korean barbecue, bibimbap, soft tofu soup, and kimchi fried rice. // A recent renovation has seafood restaurant and bar Pacific Catch (1200 9th Ave.) looking airy and open with views of Golden Gate Park and even an outdoor fire pit. // Tuck into an extensive selection of pho, garlic noodles, and Vietnamese rice plates at Perilla (836 Irving St.) // Vegetarians will find plenty to love at Loving Hut (524 Irving St.), part of an international chain that serves creative plant-based dishes. // Sip a pisco sour while waiting for your ceviche or arroz con mariscos from the Peruvian kitchen at Fresca (737 Irving St.). // At Yo También Cantina (205 Hugo St.) you'll have a choice of tamales in three different sizes served with a perfectly seasoned cabbage slaw. // A splendid way to end a Golden Gate Park visit is by relaxing at a table at Sip Tea Room (721 Lincoln Way) with scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets.
Coffee and Treats
Begin your neighborhood exploration by picking up a Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea (645 Irving St.), made with seasonal juices like mango, lychee, and peach. // Focaccia, pecan rolls, English muffins, and the scone of the day are among the reasons there's always a line outside Arizmendi Bakery (1331 9th Ave.). // Snowbird Coffee (1352 A 9th Ave.) does expert pour-overs, and while you're there pick up a bag of their locally roasted single-origin beans or the popular Third Eye blend. // When Midnite Bagel (646 Irving St.) chose the Inner Sunset for its first brick-and-mortar location, it was welcome news to fans of their Ferry Building pop-ups. They also sell small artisanal loaves of bread including pumpernickel and buckwheat/black sesame. // Hometown Creamery (1290 9th Ave.) keeps things fresh with their ever-changing rotation of ice cream flavors (cantaloupe sorbet, strawberry balsamic) but a standout on the always-available menu is fresh mint chip ice cream made with several pounds of mint leaves in each batch. // Willow on the Green (1327 9th Ave.) will supply you with any British cheeses, crackers, and sausage you might want for a picnic in the park. // The specialty at Golden Bear Trading Company (1401 6th Ave.) is Turkish coffee, ground fine as powdered sugar and brewed in a canister like loose tea with a touch of spice. // The Inner Sunset location of Tartine Bakery (1226 9th Ave.) offers indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy your baked goodies.
With its handsome wood tables and greenery from the ceiling, Red Tail (545 Irving St.) is a welcoming place. There are 10 beers on tap, and what makes the wine list fun is, rather than featuring Northern California wines (which we already have easy access to), it goes global with well selected international offerings. Try a glass of white from Crete, or a Cannoneau from Sardinia. // The Little Shamrock (807 Lincoln Way) is large and cozy with antique furniture and sofas. The place opened in 1893. // You'll find all sorts of fun at Blackthorn (834 Irving St.), from barrel-aged cocktails to trivia night to karaoke. The place is looking sleek following a recent interior renovation. // Don't miss the happy hour specials at Fireside (603 Irving St.) which, as its name implies, has a fireplace. Look for contemporary drawings of elk and moose heads in cheeky homage to the taxidermy trophies a hunter would display.
Things to Do in the Inner Sunset
With Golden Gate Park on the border of the neighborhood's northern edge, there absolutely no shortage of accessible outdoor activities nearby. Enter the park from the Inner Sunset at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (1199 9th Avenue), which has 55 acres of flora and greenery with areas devoted to plants from New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, and beyond. // If you're inspired to try your green thumb, Garden for the Environment (1590 7th Ave.) bills itself as SF's teaching garden with a mission to educate San Franciscans about sustainable plants that can be grown in the city's environments. // Admittedly, Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve (multiple entrances) isn't as lush as it once was thanks to a deforestation project on the part of the land's owner, UCSF, but there are still some nice trails here, best experienced in the early morning fog.
Fun + Games
At Earthfire Art Studios (438 Judah St.) you can paint a piece of bisque pottery—coffee mug, vase, plate, dog bowl—in your favorite color scheme, or sign up for a pottery class. // The Game Parlour (1342 Irving St.) is a drop-in spot (though reservations are recommended on weekend evenings) for board game aficionados with more than 1,000 games on offer. Munchies include sandwiches and mochi waffles. // High intensity strength training techniques at Yubalance (447 Irving St.) feature TRX, Swiss balls, and kettlebells.
See the neighborhood come to life while shopping for a quirky bargain at Inner Sunset Flea (Irving Street between 9th and 10th avenues), one Sunday per month from April through November. // Inner Sunset Farmers' Market (1315 8th Ave.), held Sundays from 9am to 1pm, is the place to stock up on fresh produce. // Marrow Gallery (548 Irving St.) is open by appointment, but the paintings and mixed-media art can be seen anytime from the street-facing windows. // Pick up a present for a toddler—or yourself at Kira (1234 9th Ave). The shop features its own apparel and collaborates with local vendors for unique clothing, accessories, and jewelry designs. // If it's your pooch you're buying for, you'll find it at Pet's Corner (1232 9th Ave). You'll get a smile from the wall of photos attesting to the shop's devoted clientele. // Plan to spend some time browsing My Favorite (601 Irving St.) with its bounty of candles, cards, vases and planters, printed tote bags, and kitchen accessories.