Discover the Secrets of South Bernal

May 22, 2024

Bernal Heights southern slope with yellow flowers in the foreground

Discover the Secrets of South Bernal From Cortland Avenue and below.

Living in South Bernal Heights is like finding a hidden gem in the bustling city of San Francisco. This area offers a unique blend of community vibes, historic spots, and quirky local hangouts that cater to everyone. If moving to Bernal is on your agenda check out this great single-family home at 815 Moultrie Street just a short 4 minute walk from Cortland Ave. To get a feel for any neighborhood do your research, obviously read as much as you can but come walk around, get a feel for the neighborhood and visit at different times to get a sense of its unique pulse.

Cortland Avenue: The Heart of South Bernal

Cortland Avenue is the lifeline of South Bernal. From its eclectic mix of shops and cafes to its vibrant community events, there's always something happening here. Highlights include:

  • Wild Side West: A historic lesbian bar with a fantastic back patio and garden, perfect for a relaxed evening. Though the pool table is a bit cramped, the dive bar atmosphere and friendly neighbors make up for it.
  • The Good Life: A great co-op, convenient for quick stops, and the friendly staff adds a pleasant touch to the shopping experience.
  • Pinhole Coffee: This trendy coffee shop offers excellent coffee and espresso art. It’s a great spot for families and singles alike, with a welcoming atmosphere and top-notch brews.

Location, Location, Location

One of the draws of Bernal Heights is how accessible it makes other parts of the city. There are beautiful streets, and views of Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower. 

Local Eateries and Hidden Spots

South Bernal boasts a variety of dining options, from casual cafes to more upscale restaurants:

  • Cafeto Coffee: A must for coffee lovers with organic roasted coffee, friendly service, breakfast sandwiches and paninis. Come for the coffee, staay for the food. 
  • New College Hill Market: Unassuming yet friendly corner convenience store pumps out incredible sandwiches to go. I highly recommend the hot pastrami on Dutch crunch but you can't go wrong with the Italiano.
  • Progressive Grounds: Known for its espresso drinks and a recently renovated back patio, this café offers a comfortable space for work or casual hangouts, despite its mediocre coffee.
  • Vega: A cozy Italian restaurant with great outdoor seating and friendly staff. It’s often packed, showing its popularity among locals.
  • The Epicurean Trader: Initially met with skepticism for replacing a beloved bookstore, this shop has won hearts with its quality booze, coffee, and sandwiches.

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

For those who love the outdoors, Bernal Heights has several surprising green spaces:

  • St. Mary’s Park to Alemany Farm: This area offers a mix of sports facilities, a renovated playground, tennis courts, and community gardens, ideal for leisurely walks and learning about urban agriculture. Dog lovers will enjoy the gated off-leash dog area
  • Holly Park: Known for its picnic areas, tennis courts, baseball diamond, and 360-degree views. This underrated park is a great place to unwind, stretch your legs, and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Glen Park Canyon: while not exactly in South Bernal, the canyon is about a 15-minute walk 

Community and Culture

South Bernal is rich in community spirit and cultural activities:

  • Bernal Heights Library: A fantastic resource that hosts events like jazz performances and readings. There's a great community playground at its doorstep.
  • Alemany Farmers Market: Known as "The People’s Market," it’s a must-visit for fresh produce and local goods every Saturday. Also keep an eye on the flea market that shares the space.
  • Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema: An annual event showcasing local filmmakers, adding to the neighborhood’s cultural tapestry.

Quirky Local Spots

Unique to Bernal Heights are several quirky spots that add character to the neighborhood:

  • Esmeralda Slide Park: Featuring a pair of 40-foot slides, this park is a hit with both kids and adults.
  • Secret Staircases and (sometimes a) Hilltop Swing: Hidden staircases lead to a picturesque swing with stunning city views, perfect for photo ops and sunset watching.

Living in South Bernal Heights means being part of a close-knit, vibrant community with access to unique local spots, beautiful parks, and a variety of dining options. It’s a neighborhood that embraces both its historic roots and modern amenities, making it a fantastic place to call home.

Click here to view homes for sale in South Bernal

815 Moultrie Street

3 Beds | 2 Baths | 1,163 Sqft

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