Russian Hill is named after the discovery in the 1800s of Russian tombstones believed to have been made for fur traders from a nearb fort. The area provides stunning vistas of the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin County. Russian Hill offers fine dining in abundance as well as great shopping with the many boutiques on Polk Street, the main shopping district. Nightlife is alive and well with many popular clubs located nearby. Housing is mostly composed of apartments, condos, and single family homes. RussianHill is comfortable residential neighborhood with areas of restaurants and shops. It has a friendly feel with spedctacular views.
The neighborhood got its name when gold rushers found seven Cyrillic-inscribed gravestones at the top of the hill. The Russian men buried there were reputed to be anything from sailors to fur trappers. The gravestones disappeared in the late 1800s and the Russian influence has since dissipated.
Restaurants and small businesses cluster Hyde Street between Jackson and Union Streets, and Polk Street is crowded with unusual boutiques, antique shops, trendy restaurants and night spots. A mini French quarter has sprung up around Polk and Green, where visitors find a great bistro, a traditional café-boulangerie, a French antiques store, and several French-influenced gift and home décor shops. For more information on events, history and local issues, see the Russian Hill Neighbors Web site at www.rhn.org.
Sights & Culture
Lombard Street: Known as "the world's crookedest street," Lombard winds past ornate houses amongst lush, flowering bushes. Between Hyde and Leavenworth streets.
San Francisco Art Institute: The Spanish-style structure, complete with bell tower, was built n the 1920s. Come to view the school's magnificent Diego Rivera mural, or take in a student exhibit or artist lecture. The school café is open to the public and offers comforting staples like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, burgers and just-baked cookies. 800 Chestnut St., (415) 771-7020. (Web site)
The Bagelry: Fresh-baked bagels with a variety of cream cheeses and toppings like lox and tomatoes. Mainly takeout but there are a few tables outside. 2139 Polk St., (415) 441-3003.
Frascati: Frascati features pan-European fare in a intimate setting that includes an open kitchen, a mezzanine balcony overlooking the main dining room, and several secluded nooks that fit just a table or two. Menu items might include paella, cassoulet or coq au vin, and stand-out desserts have included the black-and-white bread pudding and a light pumpkin cheesecake. 1901 Hyde St., (415) 928-1406.
Harris': Standards like porterhouse, as well as dressed-up classics like filet mignon topped with grilled foie gras. 2100 Van Ness Ave., (415) 673-1888. (Web site)
Hyde Street Bistro: French fare with a cozy atmosphere. 1521 Hyde St., (415) 292-4415.
La Folie: Traditional French, with California touches. The wine list focuses on California and French vintages. 2316 Polk St., (415) 776-5577.
Lemongrass: Good value Thai food in a cozy atmosphere. 2348 Polk St., (415) 929-1183.
T2J: Well-spiced dishes with good levels of heat, as in kaneg ped, a coconut milk red curry with boneless roast duck, tomatoes and basil. There are rice and noodle dishes, and a decent version of pad Thai. 2065 Polk St. (at Broadway); (415) 771-5544.
Nick's Crispy Tacos: Club by night, taqueria by day, dishes out flavors from Baja daily. Carnitas, carne asada, or chicken are stuffed into a soft corn tortilla that is wrapped around a deep-fried one and overflows with guacamole, cheese and salsa fresca. Cash only. 1500 Broadway (at Polk Street); (415) 409-8226.
Pesce: Simple seafood dishes with an Italian accent. 2227 Polk St., (415) 928-8025.
Polkers: Saturday and Sunday mornings overflowing skillets and scrambles. The all-American menu switches to burgers and salads for lunch and dinner. 2226 Polk St., (415) 885-1000.
Sushi Groove: The best sushi choice in the neighborhood with gorgeous sake cocktails. 1916 Hyde St., (415) 440-1905.
Za Pizza: Too-large-to-hold gourmet pizza slices. Eat at the large bar or at one of the few small tables, or take it home. 1919 Hyde St., (415) 771-3100.
Zarzuela: Highlights include the paella, garlic shrimp, mushrooms and fried bananas with black bean sauce.The casual atmosphere, pitchers of sangria and tapas menu practically ensure a festive dinner. 2000 Hyde St., (415) 346-0800.
Beauty Company: Hair care and beauty products from Sebastian, Bedhead and more. 2259 Polk St., (415) 567-8740.
Brownie's Hardware: Hardware store with everything you need for the home. 1563 Polk St., (415) 673-8900.
Cris: An elegant resale shop specializing in designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Tocca and Prada. 2056 Polk St., (415) 474-1191.
Frame-o-Rama: Frame shop offers complete advice and artistic solutions for any picture problem. 1940 Polk St., (415) 441-3636.
William Cross Wine Merchants: Weekly wine-tasting events at this purveyor of boutique wines from around the world. 2253 Polk St., (415) 346-1314.
Bacchus Wine & Sake Bar: The eclectic 50-bottle wine list focuses on small wineries from around the world where Euro-style lounge music mingles with young hipsters. 1954 Hyde St. (near Union Street), (415) 928-2633.
The Buccaneer: An unpretentious bar with great happy-hour specials and a free pool table. 2155 Polk St., (415) 673-8023.
The Royal Oak: This popular bar is a relaxed, old-timey saloon by day that transforms into a packed singles scene. 2201 Polk St., (415) 928-2303.
Tonic: Tonic is home to black clothes and pink cocktails. The interior is plush, with dark blue velvet couches and barstools, architectural light fixtures and floating candles on every table. Another plus is the jukebox, which specializes in alternative British bands such as Hooverphonic, the Smiths and Pulp. 2360 Polk St., (415) 771-5535.