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West Portal: San Francisco's Hidden Neighborhood

Posted by Christopher Hall on November 26, 2013
  • butterfly stickers and a tiger card from GG in West Portal, image
    Photo caption
    At GG, you can pick up gifts that will please all your senses.
  • exterior of CineArts movie theater in West Portal, image
    Photo caption
    After shopping and eating along West Portal Avenue, take in a movie at the CinéArts Empire theater.
  • exterior of Manor Coffee House on West Portal Avenue, image
    Photo caption
    Manor Coffee House is a classic eatery where old-fashioned is always in fashion.
  • interior of Bursa middle eastern restaurant in West Portal, image
    Photo caption
    Bursa restaurant serves up eastern Mediterranean dishes in a relax and welcoming setting.
  • large stuffed animal at Growing Up in West Portal, image
    Photo caption
    Large stuffed animals and other childhood delights await you at Growing Up.
  • mannequin with dress at Simply Bella, image
    Photo caption
    Look stylish, chic, and elegant with clothes from Simply Bella.

Road Journals Blog—A sweet slice of San Francisco's past thrives along West Portal Avenue, which is easily reached by S.F. Muni's K, L, and M streetcar lines. Here are a half-dozen stops that make the neighborhood a joy to visit. Area code is 415.

Diners don't come more old-timey than the Manor Coffee House, where burgundy leatherette swivel stools line the counter, waitresses wear crisp pink uniforms, and the breakfasts—and lunches and dinners, too—are heaping big. 321 West Portal Ave., 661-2468.

Specializing in classic toys like board games, Legos, dolls, books, and plush animals, Growing Up has been a fixture in the West Portal 'hood for 25 years. Two doors down from the toy shop is their arts and crafts store, which is chock full of stickers, rubber stamps, and more. 240 West Portal Ave., 661-6304.

The three screening rooms are small at CinéArts at the Empire, one of San Francisco's last neighborhood movie theaters, but projection and sound are excellent, the crowd texts and chats far less than at your typical mall multi-plex, and there's real butter on the popcorn. 85 West
Portal Ave., 661-2539.

At Simply Bella, a boutique with glowing yellow walls, owner Bella Sag stocks a choice
selection of high quality women's clothing and accessories, many of them from European
lines that are often hard to find in the United States. 159 West Portal Ave., 661-1777.

Bursa takes you on a culinary trip around the Eastern Mediterranean, with dishes like smoky baba ghanouj, rich musakka, and succulent lamb kebabs served in a dramatic, dark blue room. The $8 lunch specials are hugely popular. 60 West Portal Ave., 564-4006.

A beautifully decorated, pint-sized gift and floral shop, GG carries everything from jewelry, chocolate, and candles, to bath soaps, flowers in cute pots, and kitchen towels printed with colorful ice cream cones. 111 West Portal Ave., 731-1108.

Photography by Christopher Hall

This blog post was first published in December 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.