Portola: The best neighborhood you’ve never heard of

Tucked away in the southeastern corner of the city, at the intersection of two major highways, the Portola neighborhood would be easy for travelers coming to San Francisco to overlook. But with it’s great Asian cuisine and urban “pocket parks,” the Portola is a hidden San Francisco gem.

“It’s so bursting with personality. It’s a beautiful little enclave in the city.” – Shae Inglin, co-owner, Ferment.Drink.Repeat

Nearly half of Airbnb guests’ spending occurs in the neighborhoods where they stay. With nearly no accommodation options in Portola beyond that offered by home sharing, Airbnb hosts are helping draw more travelers to this quiet neighborhood. Whether grabbing a morning coffee at Four Barrel or sitting down for a small feast of hot pot at Chef Li’s, visitors in the Portola neighborhood support the family-owned, locally run businesses.

Airbnb has partnered with the San Francisco Council District of Merchant Associations (SFCDMA), to host merchant walks that allow hosts to discover local gems around the city they can share with their guests.

Historically known as the Garden District of San Francisco for supplying all the fresh cut flowers for the city, the Portola has grown to be a hotspot for authentic cuisine. San Bruno Avenue is the main street through the neighborhood. The restored sign for the Avenue Theater — a beautiful, 1927 movie palace — is a main fixture that stands out prominently on the avenue. The street is peppered with restaurants that have been there for generations and ones that have just moved in. Each restaurant is unique and adds to the small town feeling of the neighborhood.

Avenue Theater

“ This is the real San Francisco that a lot of people don’t get to see and really understand.” — Jack Tse, former Portola Corridor Manager

Ferment, Drink and Repeat

Shae and Kevin Inglin opened Ferment.Drink.Repeat, or FDR for short, a year and a half ago. At their microbrewery, the husband and wife team brew the beer from beginning to end with an emphasis on bringing quality beer and a level of comfort to their customers. “You come here to feel like you’re at home,” remarked Shae. As both residents and small business owners of the neighborhood, the Inglins want to educate guests to the neighborhood about delicious American IPAs as well as all the vibrancy of the Portola. “This neighborhood has so much to offer in regards to culture.”


The Fancy Wheatfield Bakery

A traditional Chinese bakery, the Fancy Wheatfield Bakery is a small shop full of delicious, sweet and savory options. Whether you are there to buy a beautiful fruit-topped cake or a BBQ pork bun, this spot offers racks of delectable and affordable options.



Chef Li’s

A Hong Kong style hot pot BBQ, Chef Li’s offers authentic Chinese group dining. Traditional hot pot like this is an interactive cooking experience. Friends and family gather around a large, boiling pot of savory broth and cook fresh-cut meats, seafood, and vegetables. With a homemade, well-stocked sauces bar, this all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant creates a unique, delicious, fresh option for folks around the neighborhood.

Chef Lis

Four Barrel Coffee

Four Barrel Coffee is a local roaster and coffee shop which prides itself on bringing good coffee to neighborhoods around San Francisco. Grab a cup of coffee and take a seat outside of the shop by the “Four Barrel Coffee Mural” by Jason Jagel located right in the Burrows pocket park that is said to be a community touchstone with plants and a Little Free Library.

Group shot