Exploring the Outer Sunset

The Outer Sunset gets a bad rap. True, it's far from the city's bright lights, plagued with dreary, monotonous architecture and often so blanketed in fog that the daily occurrence from which it gets its name is ironically not visible from it. But, all that only makes the hidden gems in this neighborhood--as we're defining it, west of 40th Avenue and south of Lincoln--all the more precious. Here's your guide to the Sunset's unexpected treasures.

Updated: December 03, 2009

Beachside Eats


3814 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Set in the converted garage of a nondescript two-story Sunset home, Toyose serves spicy Korean food to a 20-something crowd that appreciates quality, late-night dining (it's open till 2am) and loves the insider cache that comes with the covert location.

Pizza Place On Noriega

3901 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

The name may be forgettable, but the Pizza Place makes up for it with dishes like sweet-potato steak fries and thin-crust broccoli-tomato pizza, great cocktails and $10 pitchers of PBR--perfect for a post-surf pigout-and-swig session.

Cajun Pacific Restaurant

4542 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

There are easier places to get a table than Cajun Pacific, but it's worth the effort. The size of a shoebox and only open Thursday through Saturday, the Louisiana kitchen plays to a packed house thanks to dishes like New Orleans barbecue shrimp and the po?boy and gumbo.

Outterlands Cafe

4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Driftwood, seashells and weathered wood make this restaurant look like something that washed up on the beach, and its warm, welcoming ambiance and stellar food--the "eggs in Jail" are a must-try--make cold, foggy days in the avenues seem not so bad.

John's Ocean Beach Cafe

2898 Sloat Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94116

Breakfast at this diner feels like a visit to a bygone era. Photos of Elvis, John Wayne and other heroes of yesteryear hang above booths covered in cracked vinyl, and the juke box (10 songs for $1!) plays plenty of Sinatra. The food is typical greasy-spoon fare--eggs in all their incarnations, pancake short stacks--but the low prices are a nice throwback, too.

Thanh Long

4101 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

The glitziest place for miles around, Thanh Long is definitely the only place in the Outer Sunset with valet service, and it gets a mixed crowd of families, couples and special-occasion diners, most of whom are there for one thing and one thing only: Thanh's famous roasted-garlic crab.

Beachside Drinks

Riptide (the)

3639 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

Unlike many of its neighboring watering holes, the Riptide isn't a neighborhood dive--it's a destination in itself. This surf-centric honky-tonk has specials every night, with live music on the weekends, trivia Tuesdays and free home-cooked food on Fridays.

Flanahan's Pub

3805 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Windowless but well-lit with a tight-knit-but-friendly crew of locals, Flanahan's is a neighborhood dive bar where outsiders can easily settle in. There are no Irish beers at this supposedly Irish bar, but Flanahan's does carry four kinds of absinthe.

Trouble Coffee Co

4033 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Low-key locals jostle with sustainable-coffee-loving hipsters at this tiny cafe, but the thick hunks of cinnamon toast and freshly cut coconut Trouble is famous for keep everyone happy, and the coffee is the best you're going to find in the Sunset.

Pittsburgh's Pub

4207 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Dark and musty with Jethro Tull on the juke, Pittsburgh's Pub is the Taj Mahal of dive bars. A hardcore local crew calls ?The Pitt? home and it's not uncommon to find the barkeep pouring brews when they open at 8am. The fireplace with a raised hearth is the warmest seat in the house, and a single solitary booth in the corner is perfect for all kinds of shadowy debauchery, while pool tables, pinball machines and an arcade game offer more wholesome entertainment.