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Russia in San Francisco.

RUSSIAN HILL YOU'VE heard of -- that pricey peak named for 19th-century seal hunters. But the Russian presence in San Francisco runs deeper: you can find it in shops, in restaurants, and, this month, at a Russian festival.

FESTIVALS, CATHEDRALS,

AND GORBY T-SHIRTS

The first big wave of Russian immigrants to San Francisco arrived after the 1917 Revolution. A second came in the late 1940s, as Russians living in China fled the Communist takeover. In the 1970s and '80s, San Francisco drew Russian Jewish emigres; today, the Bay Area's Russian population is about 80,000.

Since 1939, one community focal point has been the Russian Center at 2450 Sutter Street, in the Fillmore. February 7, 8, and 9, it will hold its fourth annual Russian Festival, with dance and musical performances, and sampling of piroshki (turnovers), and other foolds. Tickets are $5; call (415) 566-0519.

Elsewhere (mainly in the Richmond and Sunset districts) lie other Russian institutions of interest. The city's two largest Orthodox cathedrals welcome visitors to view their beautifully gilded interiors. Both Holy Virgin Cathedral, at 6210 Geary Boulevard, and Holy Trinity Cathedral, at 1520 Green Street, are open daily; women must wear dresses to enter.

For 31 years, the Tip-Toe Inn Delicatessen (5423 Geary), a favorite of Russophiles, has offered such delicacies as blini. Hours are 9 to 7 daily except Sundays.

We found the dinners at the nearby Russian Renaissance Restaurant (5241 Geary) overpriced; on the other hand, it's fun to down a shot of vodka flavored with buffalo grass and applaud (as we did on our last visit) at tableful of Russian businessmen crooning a heavily accented rendition of "What I Did for Love." Hours are 4 to 10:30 daily; 752-8558.

Znanie Bookstore, at 5237 Geary, has books on Russia (in Russian and English) and folk art; it's open 10 to 6 Mondays through Saturdays. Globus Slavic Bookstore, 332 Balboa Street, also has Russian books; hours are 10 to 6 Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The most elegantly turned-out of the stores is socialite Pat Montandon's Perestroika store at Pier 39; it features folk art from Russia, the Ukraine, and other republics, along with Russian-designed items like T-shirts featuring Mikhail Gorbachev. It's open from 10:30 to 9 daily.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Fish, Peter
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:372
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