Bernal Rockstar Matt Nathanson Is On Tour, Having Fun, but Feeling Homesick. So He Sent Us This Postcard.


It’s been a busy summer for our local rockstars. Neighbor Matt Nathanson, Bernal’s very own rockstar next-door, is out on the road doing a summer tour that’s already taken him from Vegas to Fargo and from Cedar Rapids to Toledo. On Wednesday he was in New York. Tonight, he’s in Philly.

All that sounds insanely glamorous (in a Waffle House sort of way), but the fundamental truth of the matter is that even though Neighbor Matt is having fun, he really misses us.

Well, to clarify… we don’t know if Neighbor Matt misses you or me specifically — although that’s certainly possible. What we know for sure is that he really misses us — as in Bernal Heights. And we know this because Neighbor Matt sent us a postcard from the road last week, which we are honored to share with you here:

Dearest Bernalwood,


I’m out here on my summer tour. We’re making our way into the northeast for a bunch of amazing shows (including a sold out Central Park summer stage!!), and all is going great… but we’re about 7 weeks into a 10 week run and i’m having myself an acute case of “missing-the-shit-out-of-our-neighborhooditis.”

Bernalwood makes the pining a little bit easier to bear, so thanks for that. These United States are pretty spectacular, but they’ve got nothing on our little 94110 (& 112). I’m super-looking forward to getting home at the end of August and digging into making my next record. Fall in San Francisco… can’t wait!!

Anyway, hope everything is awesome with you all. If you could, go hike the hill for me. Then shoot down to Precita Park and get one of those insane peanut butter cookie sandwiches they have in the glass case. Those things are magic!

Mama, i’m coming home (soon!),



Neighbor Matt, here’s a sublime photo someone took on the hill yesterday evening; Karl the Fog has been summering nearby, as you know he likes to do.

Also, even though your body is elsewhere, your music plays on here in the Dominion of Bernalwood. In fact, we heard you a few weeks ago at the Lowe’s on Bayshore; they were playing “Girl in the Kinks Shirt” over the PA system! While we were browsing in the paint department! It was pretty awesome, even though a robot voice interrupted halfway through to announce, “Assistance required in the wire-cutting section.” Then your song played a little more, and the robot voice said it again: “Assistance required in the wire-cutting section.” Frankly, we thought the robot was being sort of rude, but still… it was you! On the PA system! At the Lowes on Bayshore! Just down the hill from your crib. Dude… ROCKSTAR!

Have fun on the rest of your tour, Neighbor Matt.

But not too much fun.

PHOTO: Neighbor Matt thinking of us in glamorous St. Augustine, Florida


Posted in Celebrity, Music | 6 Comments

Zagat Has Discovered Red Hill Station. You Should Too. Quickly.



It’s been a few months since Red Hill Station opened.

During that time, your Bernalwood editor has dined at Red Hill Station, the new seafood restaurant on Cortland created by Bernal neighbors Taylor Pederson and Amy Reticker, three or four times. Why so many? We’ve eaten at Red Hill Station three or four times because Red Hill Station is good. Really reeeeeeeallly good. Wonderful food, great atmosphere, attentive and neighborly service, and solid value for the hard-earned Bernalese dollar.

That said, Bernalwood has not yet written about Red Hill Station because a) we rather selfishly wanted to get our fill of the place before word got out about just how terrific it is, and b) it was obviously only a matter of time until professional food critics also figured out just how terrific Red Hill Station is, and c) professional food critics get paid to write proper restaurant reviews (so we don’t have t0).

Well, that time has now come, because there’s a new review on Zagat that talks about… just how terrific Red Hill Station is:

The Gist: Red Hill Station may just be the next great neighborhood restaurant. Open since mid-June, it certainly is a seafood restaurant, although one of their top dishes is linguine and meatballs — or if you prefer, a meatball appetizer — in a hearty, stewed tomato red sauce. If this seems incongruent, it’s not. Bernal Heights residents and owners, Taylor Pederson and Amy Reticker, came from one of San Francisco’s greatest seafood classics, Anchor Oyster Bar. Red Hill reaches for that level of laid back comfort while attempting more ambitious dishes. And, oh, those sizes! We cannot get over the massive portions of food for around $17-$19 a plate.

So much for keeping this a secret. Check out the Zagat kicker:

The Verdict: As mentioned, in two short months, Red Hill already succeeds at feeling like a destination neighborhood restaurant. But they also deliver seafood in ways you have not seen it before — and portions that more than ensure value. What we’ve tried thus far is delicious. We can’t wait to return.

Hurry, neighbors… get thee to Red Hill Station before all the flatlanders come to crowd out us locals.

PS: Red Hill also pulls down an impressive 4.5 stars from the crankypants commenters on Yelp, including this gush by some guy with a mustache named Jeff B.:

If I was one of the the raters at Michelin, and found myself in the outer limits of downtown San Francisco (ie, Bernal Heights), Red Hill Station and its chef, Taylor Pedersen, would wind up with a star or two. It’s that good.

PHOTOS: Top, exterior photo by Michael C. on Yelp. Food photo by Virginia Miller via Zagat’s

Posted in Cortland, Food and Drink | 15 Comments

Bernal Heights 1BR Apartment Rental Prices Double In Three Years


*sigh* This is not the sort of news Bernalwood likes to share, yet share it we must — because it is happening whether we like it or not.

Or rather, it happened. You see, during the last three years, the price of a one-bedroom apartment rental in Bernal Heights has doubled.

According to the number-crunchers at Pricenomics, between 2011 and 2014, the median price of a one-bedroom apartment rental in Bernal rose by 101%, from $1683 to $3390. In fact, during that same period, median one-bedroom apartment rental prices in Bernal Heights rose the most of any neighborhood in San Francisco. Oy:


This is not the kind of We’re Number One we wish to be associated with.

In absolute terms, 1BR rentals in Bernal are also on the spendy side, ranking fifth overall citywide —  higher even than Noe, Nob Hill, and Pac Heights. Oh my:


Why is it happening? Blame our innate awesomeness, combined with very limited rental supply and very favorable geography. In other words, Econ 101.

As Pricenomics explains:

The San Francisco real estate market is, technically speaking, muy caliente. If you’ve looked for an apartment recently, or follow our blog, you know that rental prices have exploded and small homes sell for more than Detroit skyscrapers. San Francisco is a beautiful place, with a bustling economy that has drawn tens of thousands of new residents over the past few years. But the supply of housing is relatively fixed as large swathes of the city aren’t zoned for the type of high density housing that could accommodate the increased demand. So the price of housing has increased.

For us in particular, Pricenomics says:

Proximity to the highways and shuttle buses that take tech workers south to companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple is also reorienting the real estate landscape. Living in neighborhoods like Bernal Heights or Portero was once (arguably) like living in a backwater, but these commuting-friendly areas are now expensive and popular.

ALL CHARTS: from Pricenomics

Posted in Real Estate | 11 Comments

Security Camera Reveals Face of Thief Breaking Into Cars on Bonview


If you’ve ever had someone break into your car, you’ve probably experienced the fantasy that involves being able to see the face of the dirtball who violated your space and took your stuff — if only to know what kind of person is that kind of an dirtball.

Well, someone broke into Neighbor Mike’s car on Bonview just before 6 am last Monday morning, and his security camera captured the whole thing:

I caught a thief on our security camera canvassing our block and stealing from my car. (I left my car doors unlocked, doh!)

The thief really took his time going through my car, and notice how he doesn’t slam the doors or the trunk, just gently closes them to not make noise. It’s creepy knowing this was happening right below me while I slept.

Side note, he only got a tray full of quarters. Luckily I didn’t have any valuables in the car.

Sit back, grab some popcorn, and get a good look at the dirtball who swiped some stuff from Neighbor Mike’s car:

Posted in Cars, Crime | 29 Comments

Let’s Explore Life Magazine’s Mysterious 1969 Photo from Bernal Hill


We don’t know much about what’s going on here, because the caption doesn’t provide any context. (“Above San Francisco, 1969″ is all it says. Thanks!) Still, it was nifty to stumble across this image in an online round-up of vintage LIFE magazine photographs of San Francisco.

While the activity taking place here is mysterious, there are nevertheless a few cool things to notice. Let’s use our special combination of algorithms to zoom and enhance the eastern side of the background:


There’s Cogswell Polytechnical College, on Folsom between 26th and (then) Army Street. Just south of that, the original St. Anthony’s church still stands, before it was destroyed by fire in 1975. And of course, the infamous Bernal Dwellings housing project, built in 1952, with its fortress-like residential tower, dominates the block on Army between Folsom and Harrison.

Now let’s look a little to the west…


There are lots of new cars lined up outside the Lesher-Muirhead Oldsmobile dealership on the corner of Army and South Van Ness, while just a little farther west we can see the big sign for Kerry’s Restaurant — open 24 hours a day, with ample parking! — rising above Army Street.

Bernalwood hasn’t geeked-out about Kerry’s Restaurant before, so let’s digress. Here’s a rather awesome 1986 (!!) shot of Kerry’s taken from street level, courtesy of the Chronicle:


Here’s an advertisement for Kerry’s from a 1964 copy of the Bernal Heights Pictorial, which was an “antecedent to New Bernal Journal”:


Even more tasty, perhaps, is this 1960s menu from Kerry’s that we found in a dusty corner of the interwebs:



Crab Louie! Cottage Cheese Salad! Breaded Veal Cutlet! Kerry’s was obviously a classy joint.

Meanwhile, if you happen to know anything about those two gentlemen frolicking in the foreground, please do chime in…

Posted in History | 17 Comments

Tonight: Free Concert by the Bernal Jazz Quartet at the Library


Hey cats…

Bernal neighbor and jazz daddy-o Michael Gold is spreading the word about a concert by the Bernal Jazz Quartet happening TONIGHT at 6:30 at the always-hip Bernal Heights Library:

The monthly jazz series at the Bernal Heights Library is firing back up this week.

After a two-month hiatus, the Bernal Jazz Quartet will be back in the acoustically comfy community room on Wednesday, August 12 from 6:30 to 8:30pm, performing the music of seminal jazz bassist Charlie Haden.

Charlie, who passed away last month, helped chart the course of jazz over many decades, collaborating with other giants such as Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett, leading his own bands large and small, and developing a distinctive, irresistible voice on the bass. His playing and his compositions are deep, honest, nostalgic, resonant, and centered on uncomplicated, engaging melodies.

To celebrate his memory, we’ll be playing two sets of all Charlie Haden.

No cover, as always. FYI, we’re at the library most second Wednesdays of the month. And this month, the Bernal Jazz Quartet consists of Michael Gold (sax), Bruno Pelletier (guitar), Chuck Bennett (bass), and Tom Hassett (drums). Tom and I are Bernal residents; Chuck and Bruno are close enough — Noe Valley.

Posted in Events, Media | 1 Comment

Bernal Neighbor Creates Tasty, Disruptive Dried Meat Product (Biltong Fans Rejoice)


Uber is disrupting the taxicab space. Airbnb is disrupting the travel lodgings space. And right here in Bernal, Neighbor Steve Kerford is working on a product that seeks to disrupt the dried meat space.

Neighbor Steve lives on Gates Street, although he’s originally from South Africa. In South Africa, you see, the locals favor a special kind of beef jerky called biltong. Neighbor Steve reached out to Bernalwood recently with an offer to drop off some of his biltong for us to sample.

The good news is, it was delicious! Most dried meats taste like an old sneaker dipped in BBQ sauce, but Neighbor Steve’s biltong tastes like… meat! Delicious, tender meat! Only, dried.

The bad news is, Neighbor’s Steve’s biltong was so tasty that Team Bernalwood gobbled up the entire bag before I had a chance to take a photo. Oh well.

Anyway, Neighbor Steve’s disruptive dried beef product company is called Cut & Dried Gourmet, and you can get some of his biltong from their website. He also has a Kickstarter campaign underway that’s getting close to it’s funding goal with about a week remaining on the clock:

 We tested our artisanal South African Biltong air-dried beef recipe while working with the leaders in ethical, natural beef production, Niman Ranch and Hearst Ranch. The results were spectacular; making Biltong with premium American beef produced the perfect health and gourmet snack! A paleo, charcuterie delight that is never cooked so it retains unadulterated nutrients and amino acid chains.

Our ambition is to get Biltong into America’s salads, office snack bars, backpacks, lunch boxes and gym bags. Healthy snacking with no sugar or additives, made from the finest American beef.

PHOTO: Neighbor Steve models his biltong, via Kickstarter

Posted in Food and Drink, Merchants | 5 Comments