The Maximus Guide To SF Neighborhoods: West Portal Edition
Maximus’ vision for Parkmerced, the largest multifamily rental neighborhood in San Francisco, is to create a sustainable city within a city, where residents have everything they need at their fingertips and effortless access to some of the Bay Area’s best—from parkland trails to sandy beaches to charming streets lined with restaurants, cafes and boutiques. One treasured resident destination within easy reach is nearby West Portal.
Whereas much of San Francisco is in a state of constant change, West Portal stands apart for its timeless presence and mostly unchanged nature. Many of its most frequented locales—restaurants, shops and entertainment venues—have held their doors open for decades, supported by the love of its residents and neighbors.
Take Mozzarella Di Bufala, for example—a family-owned-and-operated neighborhood staple since 1992, serving up a hybrid of Italian and Brazilian food, from pizza to prawns. Or the no-frills Submarine Center, which crafts toasted deli sandwiches from a menu that has hardly changed in decades. These longtime favorites are in good company alongside Squat & Gobble and its endless menu, including all-day breakfast, established in 1993.
Now known as CinéArts at the Empire, West Portal’s century-old movie theater is still going strong, showing select films on its four screens, including $5 showings on Tuesdays. For classic forms of entertainment, children and adults alike flock to the award-winning Ambassador Toys—celebrating almost 25 years in business—for model cars, board games and science experiments. Independent bookstore Bookshop West Portal covers all of your classic and modern reading bases, stocking bestsellers, indie gems and even self-published works by local authors.
After grabbing a bite and catching a movie or browsing through aisles of books, head to the cash-only dive bar Philosopher’s Club (established in 1960) to catch up with a friend over a couple of beers or to embrace the rowdiness come game day.
Despite a reputation for decades-old joints, it’s not to say that West Portal isn’t keeping up with modern times. This small town-esque neighborhood is anything but sleepy, with its new additions and freshly remodeled staples.
For an organic grass-fed burger and possibly the best milkshake you’ve ever had, take a seat at Calibur, one of West Portal’s newer food joints. Cafeteria-style chain Lemonade is another new favorite, offering healthier, seasonal takes on comfort food like Beet Couscous and Coriander Seared Ahi Tuna. Treat your taste buds to small-production wines from around the world during happy hour at Que Syrah wine bar.
San Francisco’s West Portal neighborhood has a unique charm that makes it a real hidden gem worth checking out, again and again.