Outer Sunset, San Francisco
The funky beach end of Judah Street
At the beach end of Judah St in the outer Sunset district is a nice and growing cluster of things to do. It has the flavor of a “little Santa Cruz,” as some locals call it, with some funky eating places, little shops, and even a few marginal old motels.
Here are some gems we like best. See our Outer Sunset-Judah St map for exact locations.
Things to Do
Ocean Beach, Great Hwy/Fulton St — The beach, of course! That’s what attracts the surfer crowd. This beach, which runs from the Cliff House south past Golden Gate Park then on down to the Zoo and Fort Funston, is the longest widest stretch of sand in San Francisco. The portion of this beach at the west end of Judah St still has some of the sand dunes which, before urban development, used to go far inland.
The weather is often cold and foggy with wildish waves but those attributes can make you feel close to nature. By the way, the fog tends to retreat in the late afternoon making for a nice sunset; maybe this is where the name came from.
Biking & Hiking Trail along the Great Highway, Great Hwy/Judah St — An improved trail runs just east of the Great Highway from Golden Gate Park to Sloat Blvd. It is a good variation from biking on the roads in Golden Gate Park. A sandy, less improved trail runs just west of the Great Highway amongst the dunes. Good for adults and kids.
N-Judah Muni Metro Line, Judah St/La Playa St — Riding on this light rail line is a San Francisco adventure in itself; you’ll see the City from a point of view which tourists never experience. It goes east from the ocean through the center of many interesting neighborhoods (e.g., Sunset-Judah, Cole Valley, Inner Sunset, Duboce Park, Market St Downtown, Embarcadero, by AT&T park in Mission Bay to the Caltrain Depot) and is the busiest line in the Muni Metro system (p.s. don’t go during rush hours). The original street car line started operation in 1928 and now runs on-ground, tunneling under-ground, and elevated above-ground depending on where you are.
Eat & Drink
Java Beach Cafe, 1396 La Playa St/Judah St – This is long-standing local favorite at the end of the N-Judah Muni line just across La Playa Street from the hiking/biking trail along the Great Highway. Almost all the younger set sometimes hang out here. It is fairly large with coffee, good food, and plenty of seating inside and out.
Trouble Coffee Company, 4033 Judah St/46th Ave — A nifty little coffee shop three blocks up Judah St from the beach. Their food menu is limited but interesting & tasty … fresh young coconuts and cinnamon toast made with super bread. The coffee is excellent too!
Andytown Coffee, Lawton St/43d Ave – A new coffee shop, off the main drag, that is very popular with the local hipsters. Excellent coffee and cheese & bread snacks.
Outerlands, 4001 Judah St/45th Ave — A very popular place for brunch. Tasty egg dishes and low key atmosphere. You will probably have to wait on weekends but can walk around the Judah St area and be at the top of the line when you get back. We hear from the locals that during the week they serve more dishes … and that their pastrami sandwich & soup is terrific.
Cajun Pacific, 4542 Irving St/47th Ave — Nifty funky little place. Good Louisiana Cajun food but not inexpensive. Only open Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings so call for reservations.
Judalicious, 44th @ Judah — Tasty but expensive organic food and drink.
Beachside coffee bar and kitchen, 4300 Judah St — This is a new place we have not tried yet. But, it looks good. Think I’ll check out the fried chicken & waffles.
Mollusk Surf Shop, 4500 Irving St/46th Ave — Cool, knowledgeable, low key surf gallery. A bit pricey but have a variety of good boards & related surfing stuff.
Other Avenues Natural Food Coop, 3930 Judah St/44th Ave — Good local Coop with fresh organic produce.
A Happy Planet Bedding, 4501 Irving St/46th Ave — “Natural” mattresses and bed stands. High quality product. Very nice and low key service!
All of the shop keepers in this area seem very nice. Some couple of small shops you might check out if you are in the neighborhood anyway include Freddie’s Nifty Thrifties (3848 Judah St/44th Ave ) and The Last Straw (4540 Irving St/47th Ave ).
Tourists would rarely if ever hear about this funky outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. But it is definitely a worth while destination for locals to investigate.