CLOSER TO MARIN than San Francisco’s other commercial neighborhoods, the Richmond District contains practically a city’s worth of restaurants, shops, parks, nightlife, and charming oddities — looking at you, 6th Avenue Aquarium (and flower shop) — all within 2.7 square miles of mostly flat residential streets. But it wasn’t always that way. Not unlike the Sunset District, the “Avenues” on the other side of Golden Gate Park, the Richmond was mostly shrubbery and sand dunes until the late 1800s. Early developments housed a predominantly Irish-American community until waves of refugees from the city center moved west after the earthquake and fire of 1906. At first, these newcomers lived in small, city-built wood-frame refugee shacks in public parkland. But like earthquake survivors in other areas, many decided to start fresh and settle where they were. Within a few months, the Richmond’s open parcels of land were subdivided and houses went up all over the district, where streets were named after early notables like Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, first S.F. mayor John W. Geary, and attorney/ supervisor Roswell Clement. Clement (pronounced Clement) Street today is often dubbed the city’s other Chinatown, and in fact, you’ll find Chinese tea shops and dim sum restaurants next to Irish hole-in-the-wall bars and old-school Italian pizza joints. Here’s just some of what Clement Street has to offer.
Traditional yet inventive, this diminutive eatery has seating for 22 people and features no à la carte menu, just omakase — the chef’s selection. sushiwakosf.com
Heritage brand favorites like Pendleton blankets and Filson jackets share space with newer independent labels for men and women at this fashionable outpost. seedstoresf.com
3. PARK LIFE
Started in 2006 by Jamie Alexander and Derek Song, this store carries a range of design-centric goods, including books, prints, homewares, T-shirts and jewelry. parklifestore.com
4. BLUE DANUBE COFFEE HOUSE
This neighborhood java joint’s current incarnation opened in 2013 but the original dates back at least 30 years prior. It’s known for Mexican hot chocolate, journals customers can write in, mimosas and small bites. Bring cash. 415.221.9041
5. BURMA SUPERSTAR
Don’t let the line scare you — it moves fast and is well worth the wait. Try authentic Burmese food including the famed tea leaf salad and samusa soup. burmasuperstar.com
6. NECK OF THE WOODS
With a large dance floor upstairs, a daily happy hour downstairs, live music and plenty of large-screen TVs, this late-night club has something for everyone in the group. neckofthewoodssf.com
7. HIGH TREASON
Started by sommelier John Vuong — formerly of Ame and Gary Danko — and master sommelier Michael Ireland, the wine bar’s got a casual vibe belying its pedigree roots. hightreasonsf.com
8. GREEN APPLE BOOKS
The San Francisco institution recently celebrated 50 years in business. More than 60,000 new and 100,000 used books plus a music and fiction annex make it easy to spend hours here. greenapplebooks.com
9. SCHUBERT’S BAKERY
Established in 1911, this family-operated bakery features classic desserts like Neapolitan and Opera Cake alongside more modern takes like the popular Swedish Princess cake. schuberts-bakery.com
WHERE TO EAT Aside from the restaurants mentioned, local popular eateries include B Star, Cafe Bunn Mi, Chapeau!, Eats, Giorgio’s Pizzeria, Good Luck Dim Sum, Grain d’Or, King’s Thai Cuisine, Kitchen Istanbul, Koja Kitchen, Le Soleil, and Shabu House.
WHERE TO PARK Parking in the Inner Richmond is notoriously difficult. There is a lone lot at 330 9th Avenue between Clement and Geary; other options are side-street and meter parking.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Clement Street”.