Explore San Francisco's Potrero Hill

Enjoy local flavor in this uncrowded and low-key neighborhood
Amy Wolf

You might expect a neighborhood to get too big for its britches when it's home to a culinary academy, at least half a dozen destination restaurants, world-class Anchor Steam beer, and an urban winery too. But not Potrero Hill. Maybe it's the Hill's apparent remoteness from the rest of San Francisco that keeps it uncrowded and low-key.

In fact, the Interstate 280 on-ramp means the neighborhood is less than a 10-minute drive from downtown. Hurry over to enjoy sidewalk dining, a view-filled stroll in the sunshine (fog's not a big issue up here), and a taste of something delicious.

Bistro 350
Sit at the counter and watch student-chefs earnestly preparing old-school French classics. The bistro, which opened in November, is part of the second, modern campus of the California Culinary Academy.
WHEN: Lunch and dinner Tue-Fri.
HOW MUCH: $$.
WHERE: 350 Rhode Island St.; 415/216-4329.

Chez Maman
So beloved is the tiny, casual sister restaurant to Chez Papa that it's been opening new locations around the city. Seating is counter only (plus one outdoor table); food is French comfort (crêpes, steak-frites).
WHEN: Lunch and dinner daily.
HOW MUCH: $$.
WHERE: 1453 18th St.; 415/824-7166.

Farley's
You've got to love a coffee shop that uses only whole milk, that's been open since 1989, and that hosts readings, art shows, and live music. The coffee's great too.
WHEN: Open daily.
WHERE: 1315 18th St.; 415/648-1545.

York Creek Vineyards
Fritz Maytag, father of microbrews and owner of Anchor Steam Brewery just down the street, started the tiny, urban winery in 2000. It's not set up for tastings, but if you happen to visit when Maytag or cohort Tom Holmes are in, wander in and take a peek.
WHEN: Open by appointment Mon-Fri.
WHERE: 1705 Mariposa St.; 415/522-1928.

McKinley Square
The park presents poster views to the west and south. From here it's a short walk south to the "crookedest" street in San Francisco ― not Lombard, but Vermont Street.
WHERE: Vermont St. at 20th St.; 415/831-2084.

Bell & Trunk Flowers
Petite boutique with irresistible flowers as well as baby duds and bath products. The owner lives nearby; her husband runs adjacent Ruby Wine.
WHEN: 11-6 Mon-Sat.
WHERE: 1411 18th St.; 415/648-0519.

Info: From downtown San Francisco, take I-280 south to the 18th St./Mariposa St. exit. Potrero Hill's main drag is 18th. Street parking is plentiful.