Outer Sunset

The often ignored southwestern corner of San Francisco, known as the Outer Sunset, may be full of fog, but if you can get through that you’ll find one of the city’s most exciting, up-and-coming neighborhoods. The area was once covered by sand dunes until a smart real estate developer came in and called the area Outer Sunset as a way to attract people to his fog-covered kingdom.

One of the main draws to this neighborhood is its suburban style shopping. The main retail drag is centered around Irving Street, between 19th and 27th avenues. The neighborhood is also very diverse, with many coming from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Combined with the old European immigrants, you can find an array of ethnic businesses here – from a hofbrau to a Thai restaurant next to an Irish bar that sits above a Chinese dry cleaner.

Where it’s At

The Outer Sunset generally runs along Irving Street, between 19th and 27th avenues. Sunset Boulevard also runs through the area and its walking paths are a great way to explore the neighborhood. You can also take a walk along the beach and, during the summer months, here free outdoor concerts out by the San Francisco Zoo.

What to See

Fort Funston is a great place for an afternoon stroll with an ocean view. Another great outdoor activity is a trip to Lake Merced, where you can walk, boat, golf and fish. Mount Davidson Park gives you views from the city’s highest point. The San Francisco Zoo is always a crowd pleaser, with its koalas, lions, meerkats, kangaroos, penguins and monkeys. And Stern Grove Park is home to the free performing arts festival that brings in world class jazz, blues, opera and orchestra concerts every summer.

Where to Eat

The Bashful Bull Too is the place for down-home country eating, including chicken-fried steak and classic Americana breakfast (3600 Taraval St.). The French Village Café is a pleasant stop for a light lunch, or to enjoy one of their house special pastries (60 West Portal Ave). Some of the best Thai food in San Francisco can be found at Marnee Thai. Highly recommended is the spicy green papaya salad and prawns stir fried with garlic and pepper (2225 Irving St.).