Russian hill

The History

The neighborhood’s name goes back to the Gold Rush era, when settlers discovered a small Russian cemetery at the top of the hill. Russian naval and merchant ships frequently visited San Francisco throughout the 19th century beginning in 1806, and there are several mentions of burials of crew members in the Russian Hill cemetery in the first half of the century. The cemetery was eventually removed, but the name remains to this day. Although Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest Russian Orthodox church in San Francisco, is located a few blocks away on Van Ness and Green Street, there is no significant Russian presence in the area, as the city’s Russian community is located primarily in the Richmond District.

The Lifestyle

Walkable, scenic streets, charming architecture, and a central location anchor this tight-knit community, where everything you could want—from bistros to boutiques.

The Market

These prices are slightly higher than San Francisco real estate as a whole, and you shouldn’t be surprised. Russian Hill is one of the most famous neighborhoods in the city.

The Park – Fay Park and Garden

Fay Park is actually the backyard of the Fay-Berrigan house on Russian Hill. The Berrigan family commissioned landscape architect Thomas Church to design a garden for the house in 1957, which features twin gazebos that are still there today. In 1998, the city of San Francisco accepted Mary Far Berrigan’s bequest to turn the backyard into a public park. The garden was renovated in 2005.

 

Michelangelo Playground

This magical wonderland on Russian Hill was a result of community fundraising and advocacy. In the center is a large grassy area surrounded with large flowering foliage. It also has a children’s playground, basketball hoops, handmade pathways, and benches.

There’s also a community garden but we won’t get into how long the wait list is. Another highlight is a corner area with benches that’s usually shaded. Perfect for taking in the surrounding beauty and enjoying a good book.

The Restaurants

Biondivino Wine Boutique

With the city’s strong emphasis on Californian wine, this Italian-focused shop is a welcome reprieve. And beyond being able to pick up a smart bottle, Biondivino hosts frequent tastings and events, and even the occasional pop-up dinner.

Blue Barn Gourmet

You’ll pay for them, but if it’s a big salad you crave, Blue Barn has what you need. There are seasonal sandwiches and grilled cheese, too, but it’s the salads you want here. This is also a great place to work during the day, as there’s Wifi aplenty.

Dim Sum Club

This very hidden gem on Van Ness (it’s inside da Vinci Villa hotel) has all the standard Cantonese classics (chicken and broccoli, fried rice), but the dim sum, and especially the dumplings, is the way to go. Choose from pork buns, steamed shrimp dumplings, pork and shrimp shumai, vegetarian dumplings, and soup dumplings. Or, just get them all, because they are all of very high quality, with full pieces of shrimp, tender, chewy wrappers, and expert folding.

Leopold’s

It’s incredibly loud inside this gasthaus (German-style tavern), between the beer-guzzling and music. Food of course includes lots of sausage, meats, and schnitzel. Brunch is also a sleeper option.

Gary Danko 

The food at Gary Danko is excellent. It is not inventive by any means, and it is all very rich, but it is beautiful and delicious. Gary gives the people what they want. Dungeness crab, filet, lobster, foie gras, and creamed, buttered everything. The meal feels luxurious to the point that you could plausibly rename the restaurant Gout Palace and people would still show up. At least we would.