Located just south of San Francisco on the peninsula, the Millbrae neighborhood offers the best in suburban life, while acting as a bedroom community for those commuting into the city for work. It’s situated between San Bruno to the /north and Burlingame to the South, about 14 miles from San Francisco’s city center. The area’s known for its diverse population, as well as its excellent schools, which are considered some of the best in the city. Millbrae also has many hotels located along El Camino Royal, its main drag, which help to bring in tourists traveling between San Jose and San Francisco, or landing at nearby San Francisco International Airport.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The Millbrae neighborhood has one of the most diverse populations in the Bay Area, which is reflected in the varietyof restaurants visitors have. Most restaurants can be found along El Camino Real. From Vietnamese, Chinese, steakhouses and Irish to Nepalese and American diners, this area truly meets all culinary desires. The Third Eye Restaurant and Bar has an Indian lunch buffet, karaoke and drink specials at night. There’s a good reason locals keep coming back. Watching your favorite sports team while trying Nepalese delicacies like wild boar sekuwa may not seem intuitive at first. But the welcoming ambiance may have you ordering another round before long. Ben Tre Vietnamese Homestyle Cuisine has all you could want, from crispy fish filet with garlic noodles to fresh spring rolls and crispy shrimps on sugarcane. Locals rave about the pho, a hearty soup option when the San Francisco weather gets cold and wet. If you’re in the mood for breakfast, Millbrae Pancake House serves crazy good pancakes can crepes, along with eggs and omelets, sandwiches, salads, burgers dinner plates and desserts. Popular choices include the apple creeps and Hawaiian waffles with pineapples, bananas, coconut, powdered sugar and whipped cream. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon food coma. Nightlife in Millbrae can be lively, especially during weekends, when local bars can get crowded. Lounges like WXYZ bar and Cloudz Hookah Lounge offer a laid-back vibe, while Fiddler’s Green is an Irish sports bar. If you’re in the mood to showcase your singing chops, Millbrae Karaoke House has a great selection of English and Korean songs. Though Millbrae doesn’t have any live music venues, many area restaurants provide music as part of the meal, including Sixteen Mile House, a local steakhouse and Behan’s Irish Pub.
History & Culture
Millbrae was originally a tract of land owned by the Sanchez family. Darius Ogden Mills bought the land in the 1860s to build a country estate, and called it Millbrae from has last name and the Scottish word for rolling hills. The area was incorporated in 1948. Transportation subsequently helped shape Millbrae’s growth, especially the streetcar, linking it with San Mateo and San Francisco. Culturally, the area has remained much the same, with residents struggling to limit development. As the San Francisco International Airport continued to grow nearby, the area has become more diverse. Millbrae hosts several museums, including the Millbrae Museum, SFO Museum, Peninsula Museum of Art, Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, Millbrae Train Museum and Jewels Museum. The area has a lively arts scene, with the Peninsula Art Studio offering classes for budding artists, and the Millbrae Art & Wine Festival displaying the best in local talent each September.
Though Millbrae is located on the peninsula, it’s still part of San Francisco’s Bay Area, and therefore, traffic and parking can be difficult. Given its lower density of population, most residents prefer to drive to their destinations, though many take public transportation as well. Parking is likely to be easier and cheaper than in San Francisco. If you choose to go public, samTrans, Caltrain, BART and Muni all have train and buses in the area. Hailing a cab on the street is possible, but if you’re in a hurry, you may want to call one, or arrange for Uber pickup. Millbrae is considered walkable and bikeable, socially along El Camino Real. There are some bikes lanes throughout the area, making it safe for cycling.
The cost of living in Millbrae is lower than that of San Francisco, with a 1-bedroom apartment renting for about $1,600. Since the cost of housing is lower, the cost of food and entertainment also tends to be lower as a result. You’ll pay about 9% more for gas in this area than the national average. A beer in a typical pub will run you around $4-5, and it costs around $3-4 to get to San Francisco’s city center.
Though there are some chain stores in Millbrae, such as Walgreen’s and Office Depot, most of the area’s shopping needs are met by smaller stores. As with area restaurants, most of these stores can be found along El Camino Real. There is no high-end or luxury shopping to speak of. Boutiques such as Bombshell provide women’s clothing alongside beauty services like nail design and brow shaping, Soyodo sells books and computer repairs and Urban Darling is a personal shopping service for professional women on the go. Millbrae also has a lot of choice when it comes to groceries. Chains like Lucky, Safeway and Trader Joe’s have outposts here, as well as smaller grocers like Sun’s Market, Andrea’s Market and Dean’s Produce. The Millbrae Farmers Market happens year-round on Saturdays, with fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, vendors, baked goods and seasonal specialties.
The Millbrae neighborhood has a lot of parks and green spaces to rest, play and dream in. Bayfront Park is located south of SFO right on the bay, offering a perfect view of planes taking off and landing. Millbrae Community Center has a baseball diamond, tennis courts and tons of space for dance and aerobic classes, while Meadows Parks has lots of trails for walking and communing with nature. Finally, the Peter Loftus Playground provides the perfect spot for a family picnic, and Junipero Serra Park has tons of great hiking trails for your pleasure. Parks are free and kid and dog friendly. Most have free parking, too. Fitness and activities are welcomed in most parks, as long as you’re mindful about other users.