Here's a fun San Francisco fact: Balboa Park exists as a neighborhood in the Google Maps sense but is not technically zoned as one. Rather, it's the corner where Excelsior, Ingleside and Glen Park meet. But zoned, schmoned. We decided to take a trek on BART and explore the area. Here are a few places well worth checking out, official neighborhood status be damned.


When you enter this Pakistani restaurant you’re greeted with the big food board that includes the following steps: Order your favorite food and find your table. The price is right, with samosas running $4, lamb chops $15 and chana masala $7.50. We might have ordered all this and more if we'd been physically able. Don't skimp on naan, which you can fancify with flavors like garlic, onion and cheese.

Where: 1140 Ocean Ave., Ingleside


Rocks Den

via Website

It's a bit of a cliche for the local watering hole to serve cheap, stiff drinks and have a solid selection of beers on tap. But that local spirit is part of what we love about Rocks Den. The cocktails aren't just wallet friendly but refined, too: Try the Night at Rocksberry, with bourbon, mixed berries and bitters served in a chilled martini glass. 

Where: 4431 Mission St., Excelsior
When: Mon.-Weds. & Sun., 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
More info: 415- 769-5100;


Broken Record

via Website

Like Rocks Den, there's an inherent neighborhood-y feel to Broken Record. Perhaps it's the pool table or dartboard area taking up most of the space up front. Or maybe it's the no-frills selection of drinks. You won't find 20 beers on tap but it does have the essentials — local favorites like Fort Point, Sierra Nevada and Anchor Steam. Grab eats from the pop-up kitchen; Hood Grub stays open till 11 with offerings like tater tot poutine and Moroccan spiced veggie potpie. There's even a Sunday brunch.

Where: 1166 Geneva Ave., Excelsior
When: Mon.-Thurs., 4 p.m.-midnight; Fri. & Sat., 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-midnight
More info: 415-963-1713;


Dark Horse Inn

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The best way to describe Dark Horse Inn is as a gastropub. It's one of those joints where you can watch the game, meet a friendly bartender and eat some quintessential (and not so quintessential) comfort foods, from fried pickles to the kimchi Reuben, two of our favorite menu items. This place is especially ideal for craft beer and wine fans.

Where: 942 Geneva Ave., Excelsior
When: Tues.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri., 5-11 p.m.; Sat., 1-10 p.m.; Sun., 1-9 p.m.
More info: 415-469-5508;


Crocker Amazon Playground

Now that you've eaten and drunk your fair share of everything, burn it off at the recently made over Crocker Amazon. Nestled among the hills and houses is an oversize field designed for play. Be sure to bring a coat: This area runs a few degrees cooler than its surroundings (thanks, microclimates) and Karl can be spotted throughout the day. In addition to hiking paths, there are lighted soccer fields; bocce, basketball and tennis courts; baseball fields, a community garden and dog-friendly spots. If you walk far enough, you'll hit the periphery of John McLaren Park with its golf course, the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre and more.

Where: Moscow St. & Geneva Ave., Excelsior
When: Daily, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
More info:

By Mike Weiss

San Francisco-based marketer Mike Weiss has an undying love for sports, film photography and anything with gin. He's a firm believer that the West Coast is the best coast. Find him on Twitter @mikeini.