If you’re the type of traveler that prefers to eschew the touristy areas and likes to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and flavors of a destination, then you should set aside some time to check out some of San Francisco’s neighborhoods the next time you’re in the Bay Area. Bernal Heights isn’t internationally famous (or infamous) like some San Francisco neighborhoods, but it has its own unique character. If you’re an adventurous traveler who prefers to leave lots of space in your schedule for discovering new things, this neighborhood has plenty of off-the-beaten-path surprises and delights.
Located in the southeastern part of the city on the edge of the Mission Valley, Bernal Heights is a great neighborhood, especially for young families. Hence, its unofficial nickname “Maternal Heights.” But that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in things to see and do, far from it. The neighborhood’s main shopping district is located on Cortland Avenue and features ethnic restaurants that range from good to excellent, coffee shops, mom-and-pop markets, dives, diners and other neighborhood shops. It’s best to experience Cortland Avenue by foot so visitors can drift in and out of surprisingly trendy boutiques and specialty stores, grab an agreeable cup of coffee to enjoy al fresco, people watch and soak in the unique flavor of the neighborhood.
Speaking of flavor, whether you’re in the mood for comfort food or authentic ethnic fare, Bernal Heights eateries have you covered. To name a few is to risk slighting the many, but you really should make time in your schedule to check out these:
• Liberty Café, 410 Cortland Avenue, 1-415-695-8777
Homemade comfort food, freshly baked bread, fresh local ingredients prepared with verve and attention to detail, and a great reputation make this place stand out from other eating establishments in the neighborhood. The owner’s a pastry chef, so don’t pass on dessert.
• Moonlight Café, 634 Cortland Avenue, 1-415-647-6448
For a hearty breakfast, light lunch or good, inexpensive dinner, it’s hard to beat the Moonlight Café for its combination of consistently good food at reasonable prices. Make sure to try the soups made fresh daily.
• El Rio, 3158 Mission Street, 1-415-282-3325
If you’re in the mood for an after-dinner beverage and a way to burn some calories, check out El Rio. A self-proclaimed dive that features live music, salsa dancing and neighborhood drink prices, what’s not to like?
Bernal Heights Park provides an outstanding view of the city day or night. Snag something to go or prepare a picnic lunch and enjoy sweeping views of the city. But watch your step! This is a very popular off-leash dog park.
Since it’s located at the top of a steep hill, it’s a good idea to visit Bernal Heights by car. If you’d rather not deal with parking hassles, then you may want to consider renting a San Francisco limo from NLS Limo. Plan your itinerary on the fly and have your driver drop you off at the door for dinner, pick you up for dancing at El Rio and ice down some champagne to enjoy while you take in the Bay Area’s best views of the city. No other San Francisco limousine company has more options, so call them today at 1-800-339-8936 and experience Bernal Heights and other cool San Francisco neighborhoods.