September 29th, 2017
The SCH Guide to The Castro
The Castro is one of SF’s most unique and historic neighborhoods. It gets its name from José Antonio Castro, a leader in the Mexican army and acting governor of Alta California in the mid-1800s. While the neighborhood and its most recognizable landmark — the iconic Castro Theatre movie house — bear the commandant’s name, that’s not what makes The Castro famous.
In the 1960s and 1970s, The Castro emerged as a hub of LGBT activism. The intersection of 18th and Castro is where many historic events, marches, and protests have taken and continue to take place. The neighborhood was home to Harvey Milk, who moved from New York City to San Francisco in 1972 amid a migration of LGBT men to the area. Milk went on to become the first openly gay official in the history of California when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where he helped to pass new gay rights ordinances in the city.
Today, the neighborhood remains a center for LGBT culture — as well as delicious food, drinks, and lovely, walkable streets.
From upscale to casual, there are many dining options in The Castro. Here’s a couple to stir your appetite. For sushi, check out Eiji — it’s low key, high quality, and comfortable. Looking for coffee? Réveille Coffee Co. takes every post seriously and their avocado toast is great too. You arguably find the best burritos in the city at El Castillito and every shape and flavor of cookie at the Hot Cookie bakery.
Lookout is one of the area's most well-known spots — it’s on the second floor and features a
huge wrap-around balcony. The Cafe has different events nearly every night, plus two bars and an outdoor area. And if it’s history you’re after, look no further than Twin Peaks Tavern, the first gay bar in the city, and possibly the entire United States.
Two other notable ways to get to know The Castro include walking tours that will give you an understanding of the neighborhood's history, and the Castro Street Fair, a community street celebration founded by Harvey Milk himself in 1974.
The Castro is just a little over three miles southwest of SCH, making it easily accessible if you’re looking to explore the history of the LGBT movement or just get a bite to eat, some drinks, or an afternoon walk.