Our 50 favorite San Francisco bars -- all on one page!

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Drink time at the Royal Cuckoo
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY ANNA LATINO

From splashy dives to upscale classics (and everything in between) — our favorite spots to grab a drink

This week's cover story in the paper highlights 50 great bars we love (along with 30 honorable mentions and 10 East Bay favorites). That's a lot of pages on the Internet! here it all is on one handy page -- grab a drink and scroll with us to watering hole bliss. (You can also flip through the digital edition of the paper here.)

PS For this list we concentrated specifically on bars (including those at restaurants and hotels), leaving you to judge the cocktails at music venues and dance clubs on their own merits.

PRICE RANGE KEY:

$ (cocktails generally under $10)

$$ (cocktails generally $10-14)

$$$ (cocktails generally $15 and above)

NOTABLE KEY:

Cocktail Destination: Noteworthy cocktails

Spirits Selection: Extensive or well-curated spirits selection

Memorable Atmosphere: Worth drinking here for the atmosphere

Wine Sanctuary: Exceptional wine list

Beer Haven: Exceptional beer list

Gourmet Bites: Notable food

Dive: Classic, standout dive bar

Classic: An SF staple, standard-setter

Mellow: Particularly laid back, good for conversation

Music: Live music destination

 

15 ROMOLO

North Beach, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Spirits Selection

Consistently one of SF's best cocktail bars, 15 Romolo commands an uphill alley in North Beach with some of the most balanced and inventive drinks in town. The laidback, dim space (with fab jukebox), reflects pre-Prohibition spirit but isn't obnoxiously theme-y. Many of our city's top bartenders started here, going on to launch other bars. Romolo's brunch — boozy waffle shots! — and food menu rank among the most satisfying bar food in existence. Hello, peanut butter bacon burgers!

15 Romolo, SF. (415) 398-1359, www.15romolo.com

 

ALEMBIC

Upper Haight, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Spirits Selection

As Alembic currently faces significant changes (bar manager Daniel Hyatt's exit after nearly seven years, expansion into the Red Vic space next door), time will tell if it remains the iconic bar it has been for the past 7 years. Still serving impeccable New Orleans classic cocktails, Hyatt's unique, forward-thinking cocktails, and underrated, gourmet food, Alembic's spirits collection, particularly American whiskey, has been one of its key strengths since day one.

1725 Haight, SF. (415) 666-0822, www.alembicbar.com

 

AQ

SoMa, $$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Spirits Selection, Memorable Atmosphere, Wine Sanctuary

AQ's lovely brick-walled, high ceiling restaurant evolves its decor with the season, while the bar changes vintage glassware and bar top: burnt copper for fall, marble in winter. Seasonal cocktail classics are infused with subtle twists while original cocktails are incredibly creative, unusual. The wine list is extensive, heavy on the Loire Valley but offering an international range.

1085 Mission, SF. (415) 341-9000, www.aq-sf.com

 

AUB ZAM ZAM

Upper Haight, $

Classic, Dive

Faded 1930s Arabian Nights theme and legendarily grumpy bartenders have set this boozy cocktail den apart for decades. This piece of cocktail history birthed countless stories of now deceased Bruno, who would kick people out for ordering a vodka martini — or for any reason that suited him. It's friendlier now, thank goodness. And there's been no upgrades to decor, the jukebox still belts out Tony Bennett and Tom Waits, drinks remain stiff, and there's almost always a seat waiting for you. It's nice knowing just a few places remain averse to change.

1633 Haight, SF. (415) 861-2545

 

AUNT CHARLIE'S LOUNGE

Tenderloin, $

Classic, Dive, Memorable Atmosphere

Everything you thought about gay bars was wrong — or else exactly right. This wonderfully worn-in, carpeted little cave in the Tenderloin is bursting with character and crazy seasonal decor. Grittily glamorous Hotboxxx Girls drag shows on Friday and Saturday evenings are a must for the too-hip and the just-visiting alike.

133 Turk, SF. (415) 441-2922, www.auntcharlieslounge.com

 

BAR AGRICOLE

SoMa, $$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere

Good luck getting a bar seat in this ultra-cool, eco-chic bar-restaurant, minimalist yet dramatic under shimmering light installations, serving forward-thinking food. Reserve a table in the front garden, arrive early, or just wait your turn at the bar and you'll be blessed with impeccable rum and rhum agricole cocktails alongside a range of pristinely-executed classics from Thad Vogler and crew.

355 11th St., SF. (415) 355-9400, www.baragricole.com

 

BENDER'S

Mission, $

Beer Haven, Dive

A stalwart favorite of fixie riders, rock mavens, and those weary of fighting for space a Zeitgeist — or hey, folks just looking for a good, stiff drink in a mercifully concept-free atmosphere with room to sit down. Bender's stands out with a tasty beer selection and tater tots and tacos to die for.

806 Van Ness, SF. (415) 824-1800, www.bendersbar.com

 

BIG

TenderNob, $$$

Cocktail Destination, Memorable Atmosphere

Truly tiny under red velvet-draped ceiling, the ironically named Big fills up quickly, but overcrowding is somehow kept at bay, making it, at times, an intimate spot for a cocktail. Though pricey, the menu-less bar is about seeing what house syrups have been made that day (mirepoix, corn?), what spirit you might be in the mood for, and what two talented bartenders can craft on the spot.

761 Post, SF.

 

THE BIG 4

Nob Hill, $$$

Classic, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere, Mellow, Musical

May rumors of the Huntington Hotel's new owners doing away with this fantastic, historic bar — the jewel of Nob Hill — be untrue. For decades, the Big 4, named for the Central Pacific Railroad's "big fiour" tycoons, has been the archetypal old school bar in a restaurant. Its dark wood setting and fireplace evoking an ur-capitalist gentleman's club and martini lounge set to the nightly, live piano strains of Michael Parsons (Sundays it's Steve Klawiter).

1075 California, SF. (415) 771-1140, www.big4restaurant.com

 

BIX

Financial District, $$

Classic, Cocktail Destination, Musical

One of the more dazzling dining rooms in town. You enter thick curtains off a downtown alley into Bix's dramatic space — like walking into a Thin Man movie. Live jazz and beautiful Negronis confirm you've entered another, jazzier era, one Bix has faithfully preserved since 1988. Here's to many more decades.

56 Gold, SF. (415) 433-6300, www.bixrestaurant.com

 

BLACKBIRD

Castro, $–$$

Cocktail Destination

The Castro is one of the most social neighborhoods in SF, rife with numerous watering holes and gathering places. But not until Blackbird was there a cocktailian's haven, serving elegant drinks — with a well-curated wine ist to match — utilizing house made pistachio orgeat, hibiscus-infused brandy, and other handcrafter ingredients.

2124 Market, SF. (415) 503-0630, www.blackbirdbar.com

 

BOURBON AND BRANCH

Tenderloin, $$

Cocktail Destination, Memorable Atmosphere, Mellow, Spirits Selection,

Love or hate the new speakeasy bars, Bourbon and Branch, now eight years old, was one of the earliest progenitors of the theme outside of NYC. And despite owner Future Bars' notable other bars (Tradition, Local Edition), B&B remains the best. Rarely is a bar this transporting: ring a doorbell next to an unmarked door and enter the 1920s. This reservations-only hideaway guarantees a seat, a romantic escape for conversation and quality drink. Its bar-within-a-bar, Wilson and Wilson, is likewise one of SF's best, digging even deeper into housemade ingredients and unusual combinations. Consider it the impressive place to take out-of-towners for a drink.

501 Jones, SF. (415) 346-1735, www.bourbonandbranch.com

 

BROKEN RECORD

Excelsior, $

Spirits Selection, Dive, Gourmet Bites

This dive in the outer reaches of SF draws whiskey fans from afar. With every chef who sets up shop in Broken Record's back room, kick-ass bar food (Southern BBQ, elevated burgers) results. From pool table to patio, it's everything you want in a dive bar and more, including laid back bartenders, a genuine vibe, and more than 250 whiskies at reasonable prices.

1166 Geneva, SF. (415) 963-1713, www.facebook.com/brokenrecordsf

 

CANTINA

Union Square, $–$$

Cocktail Destination

Pioneering South and Central American cocktails, Cantina has been keeping it real for years with refreshing drinks highlighting tequila, mezcal, cachaca, and pisco (owner Duggan McDonnell is also one of the creators of Campo Encanto Pisco). Cantina's basement hosts all kinds of events, a community gathering place.

580 Sutter, SF. (415) 398-0193, www.cantinasf.com

 

CHURCH KEY

North Beach, $–$$

Beer Haven, Mellow

Church Key is a breath of fresh air amid the party bars, classic dives, strip clubs, and cocktail spots of North Beach. With cozy upstairs mezzanine, it's a beer lovers dream of revolving drafts and bottles in an unpretentious setting where one can actually talk with friends.

1402 Grant, SF. (415) 963-1713

 

CLUB DELUXE

Upper Haight, $

Music, Gourmet Bites

Blonde wood walls, black and white tile, red booths, dim lighting — an environment virtually unchanged for decades. These are reasons to love Club Deluxe but supreme is multiple nightly sets of some of the best live jazz in SF, from bossa nova to bepop and blues. You don't come here for the drinks but recent addition of Chef Thomas Martinez offers fantastic food. One can comfortably linger over a shot of whiskey, jazz, and gourmet plates.

1511 Haight, SF. (415) 552-6949, www.sfclubdeluxe.com

 

COMSTOCK SALOON

North Beach, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere, Spirits Selection

Showcasing SF's Barbary Coast era with vintage ceiling fans, Victorian couch sidling up to a pot belly stove, and the original trough (ahem, to piss in back in the day) lining a dramatic wood bar, "Saloon Keepers" Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin honor the history of Comstock's gorgeous, two-room, 1907 space. It's a memorable a date night and a casual, neighborhood hangout. Whether cozy in a bar booth or at a table in the wainscoted dining room, food from Chef Carlos Espina is as thoughtful as the classic cocktails.

155 Columbus, SF. (415) 617-0071, www.comstocksaloon.com

 

DOSA

Mission, Fillmore, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere

Besides serving some of the best upscale South Indian food anywhere, Dosa's two locations also craft a unique cocktail menu unlike any, heavy on Indian spices and flavor profiles, including its own house gin produced by local distiller Old World Spirits: cardamom-rich Blade Gin.

Dosa on Fillmore: 1700 Fillmore, SF. (415) 441-3672

Dosa on Valencia: 995 Valencia, SF. (415) 642-3672, www.dosasf.com

 

EDINBURGH CASTLE

Tenderloin, $

Classic, Dive

This quintessential SF dive bar has been around for years, akin to classic British pubs, occasionally rowdy, generally low key, ever-ready with a pint. In that spirit, its serves fish and chips in newspaper and facilitates offbeat community with readings, '60s dance club nights, and legendary trivia quizzes.

950 Geary, SF. (415) 885-4074, www.castlenews.com

 

ELIXIR

Mission, $–$$

Cocktail Destination

When partying or sports-loving crowds descend, the already small bar gets cramped, in a space dating back to 1858. Boasting an impressive whiskey collection, Elixir is run by cocktail pioneer H. Joseph Ehrmann, and talented bar managing duo Shea Shawnson and Nick DesEnfants. The cocktail menu is a mix of 1800s saloon classics, Elixir favorites like H.'s Celery Cup No. 1, and rotating seasonal drinks.

3200 16th St., SF. (415) 552-1633, www.elixirsf.com

 

FAT ANGEL

Fillmore, $–$$

Beer Haven, Wine Sanctuary, Gourmet Bites

Part romantic European café, part comfortable neighborhood pub, Fat Angel manages to be dream neighborhood beer and wine bar in one. Above average bar bites, friendly staff, and changing draft beers and wines listed on a large chalkboard under dramatic chandelier ensure you'll want to linger for hours.

1740 O'Farrell, SF. (415) 525-3013 www.fatangelsf.com

 

GITANE

Financial District, $$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere

Just about the sexiest bar and setting in the city, Gitane has been strong on spirits collection, wine list, and cocktails from day one, with upscale regional Spanish cuisine making it a real date night. 6 Claude Lane, SF. (415) 788-6686, www.gitanerestaurant.com

 

HEAVEN'S DOG

SoMa, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Spirits Selection

Undergoing a significant overhaul, Heaven's Dog showcases the cocktail expertise of one of our great barmen, Erik Adkins. The bar at Asian-influenced Heaven's Dog restaurant has been tended by some of SF's top bartenders, most recently supervised by Ethan Terry (of AQ, 15 Romolo, Comstock). One of the best places for classic Charles H. Baker cocktails anywhere, its latest incarnation will focus on original creations alongside Charles Phan's cuisine (of Slanted Door fame).

1148 Mission, SF. (415) 863-6008, www.heavensdog.com

 

THE HIDEOUT

Mission, $

Cocktail Destination

Through longtime Mission favorite Dalva is a hidden back room, The Hideout, a getaway for cocktail geeks who disdain pretension. With guest bartending appearances by local and visiting drink masters, bar staff display an adept hand at elegant but never fussy cocktails, shaken or stirred to loud, classic tunes of the '70s and '80s.

3121 16th St., SF. (415) 252-7740

 

HI TOPS

Castro, $–$$

Memorable Atmosphere, Gourmet Bites

It's a new gay sports bar — a recent shot in Sports Illustrated featuring two men in 49ers jerseys kissing toppled barriers. But why stop there? The vintage '60s gym decor, eclectic atmosphere, and twists on game night bites have upped the sports bar game. And yes, there's a cocktail with Muscle Milk as base.

2247 Market, SF. (415) 551-2500, www.hitopssf.com

 

HOG & ROCKS

Mission, $$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites

Hog & Rocks has been a popular watering hole for American whiskey and unfussy cocktails lovers, happy over platters of oysters and ham. Once the bar was commandeered by Michael Lazar consulting with Scott Beattie, it became a special place for bracing cask strength Old Fashioneds, or tall rocks refreshers accented by garden fresh and preserved fruits and herbs. Lazar and Beattie (who also put together the drink menu at the new Hi Lo across the street) have made it a casual yet festive cocktail destination.

3431 19th St., SF. (415) 550-8627, www.hogandrocks.com

 

HOTEL BIRON

Hayes Valley, $–$$

Wine Sanctuary, Mellow

Hotel Biron is an intimate, romantic wine bar drawing people to a nondescript alley near busy Market Street for years, featuring monthly rotating local artists in a candlelit, narrow space. Grab a couch or bistro chair with friends in this late night sanctuary for French and Californian wines.

45 Rose, SF. (415) 703-0403, www.hotelbiron.com

 

JASPER'S CORNER TAP

Union Square, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites

Need a meet-up location with friends or colleagues near Union Square? One open all day, that'll please the beer geek, the wine lover, the cocktail aficionado? Oh, and that serves reasonably priced, tasty gastropub food? Not too tall an order, since Jasper's came along. Thanks to bar manager Kevin Diedrich, one of our city's great bartenders, some of the most thoughtful, fun cocktails in the city are here.

401 Taylor, SF. (415) 775-7979, www.jasperscornertap.com

 

LITTLE SHAMROCK

Inner Sunset, $

Dive, Pub, Classic, Mellow

Though there's no shortage of Irish pubs in town, Little Shamrock stands out, going strong since 1894. Just off Golden Gate Park, this is garage sale, eclectic comfort expressed in a hodgepodge of couches, chairs, tables, inviting one to linger over Guinness on tap, board games, backgammon, warm fireplace, and free popcorn.

807 Lincoln Way, SF. (415) 661-0060

 

MAGNOLIA BREWERY

Upper Haight, $–$$

Beer Haven, Gourmet Bites

Operating as a busy gastropub, Magnolia arguably crafts the best local SF beer (not bottled) since 1997. Beermaster and restaurateur, Dave McLean, who also owns Alembic and an upcoming Dogpatch brewery, is behind the world-class brews. Serving cask-conditioned ales long before it was trendy, experimenting in a range of styles and categories, he makes sure there's a beer for everyone. McLean is a key figure in furthering SF and California beers from his roles in the SF Brewers Guild and Outside Lands' Beer Lands.

1398 Haight, SF. (415) 1398 Haight, SF. www.magnoliapub.com

 

MARTUNI'S

Soma, $$

Classic, Memorable Atmosphere, Music

Who doesn't love a piano bar? Characters belt out showtunes in the back of this velvet-draped classic, while spiffy bartenders shake or stir some killer martinis upfront. It's a little bit classy, a little bit seedy, and all San Francisco.

4 Valencia, SF. (415) 241-0205, martunis.ypguides.net

 

MAVEN

Lower Haight, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites

Kate Bolton brought a deft hand with cocktails (formed at fine dinging bars like Michael Mina) when she became bar manager at Maven, Lower Haight's best new cocktail outpost. Elegant yet unfussy drinks and an equally strong food menu — with helpful, adventurous beer pairings — make it a winning, all-around stop.

598 Haight, SF. (415) 829-7982. www.maven-sf.com

 

MONK'S KETTLE, ABBOT'S CELLAR

Mission, $–$$

Beer Haven, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere

Opened by the same team, these temples to beer feature proper glassware, storing temperatures, and impeccable selections (bottle and draft) of rare beers from around the globe. Both are strong restaurants, whether the always-crowded, gastropub-like Monk's, which has been one of our city's best beer bars for years, or the newer, more upscale Abbot's Cellar.

Monk's: 3141 16th St., SF. (415) 865-9523, www.monkskettle.com

Abbot's: 742 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-8700, www.abbotscellar.com

 

MOSTO

Mission, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Spirits Selection

An agave spirits collection of more than 300 bottles is reason enough to visit Mosto. A generous list of tequila and mezcal cocktails, neighboring Tacolicious restaurant's guac and queso and laid back, urban cantina feel confirm it's a top tequila bar.

741 Valencia, SF. www.mostosf.com

 

OCCIDENTAL CIGAR BAR

Financial District, $–$$

Classic, Mellow

Since 2001, cozy Occidental is a rare smoking bar and our pick for top cigar bar. Besides a strong spirits list heavy on the whiskies, its historical connection goes back to the 1860s in the space's former incarnation as the Occidental Hotel, where Professor Jerry Thomas, who helped established bartending as a craft, is purported to have once bartended. Woodcut etchings of his groundbreaking Bon Vivants Companion cocktail book line smoke-tinged walls of the bar where you can bring in your own cigars or choose from the humidor collection.

471 Pine, SF. (415) 834-0485, www.occidentalcigarclub.com

 

PRESS CLUB

Downtown, $$

Wine Sanctuary, Memorable Atmosphere

Press Club's subterranean setting right off Market Street downtown is an unusual one. With a vast space in which to find a quiet corner or celebrate with a crowd, consider it the chic lounge of wine bars, serving a changing list of international wines, flights (like "Italy vs. USA"), beers, and bites, featuring monthly vintners and brewers with focused tastings. It's a central, notable place to meet up with out-of-towners and colleagues.

20 Yerba Buena Lane, SF. (415) 744-5000, www.pressclubsf.com

 

RANGE

Mission, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites

A drink and dining stalwart from the early days when Brooke Arthur ran the small bar, to current manager Jeff Lyon's touch, which has kept the intimate bar in Range's restaurant on the drink lover's map. Spirit-heavy or seasonal drinks (like an Ojo del Tigre with blood orange and tequila) are delicious and impeccably crafted.

842 Valencia, SF. (415) 282-8283

 

RICH TABLE

Hayes Valley, $$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere

Besides being one of the top new restaurants in the city (and country), Rich Table opened with a short but sharp cocktail list showcasing herbs and spirits. Once Jason "Buffalo" LoGrasso was brought on as bar manager, the cocktail list, including unforgettable dessert cocktails, grew, becoming a special drink outpost... if you can snag a seat at the bar.

199 Gough, SF. (415) 355-9085, www.richtablesf.com

 

RIO GRANDE

Tenderloin, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Memorable Atmosphere

From the Bon Vivants, this urban cantina-meets-roadhouse pours cheap, canned beers and skillful cocktails, heavy on tequila and whiskey, under glistening walls and stripper poles. A live music stage and cowhide confirm the roadhouse vibe, while the bar livens up a seedy stretch of Market Street.

1108 Market, SF.

 

ROYAL CUCKOO

Outer Mission, $–$$

Memorable Atmosphere, Music

Dimly lit, sexy Royal Cuckoo is a hodgepodge of mid-century thrift store lamps, paintings, and furniture accented with shades of red. A strong small batch spirits selection and in-house Hammond organ star in a space reminiscent of great New Orleans bars: no cover for excellent live music (all centered around the Hammond). All for the cost of a stiff drink... and there always seems to be a seat.

3202 Mission, SF. (415) 550-8667, www.royalcuckoo.com

 

RYE

Tenderloin, $

Cocktail Destination

With smoking "cage" patio out front and center-of-Tenderloin locale, Rye has been churning out quality cocktails — and some of the city's best bartenders — long before many current upstarts were even in planning stages. Masterminds Jon Gasparini and Greg Lindgren (who also opened 15 Romolo, Rye on the Road, Rosewood) ensure Rye remains an unpretentious neighborhood hangout serving drinkable cocktails, like that ever-popular basil gimlet.

688 Geary, SF. (415) 474-4448, www.ryesf.com

 

SMUGGLER'S COVE

Hayes Valley, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Memorable Atmosphere, Spirits Selection

This tri-level tropical escape, from owner Martin Cate, launched many a copycat. Smuggler's Cove upped the game for Tiki bars, with playful reverence to Tiki history and, yes, kitschy décor. The extensive cocktail menu covers everything from pre-Castro Havana to original Don the Beachcomber creations. We've traveled to rum bars in other cities who tell us they were inspired to curate their rum collection based on Smuggler's incredible, 200+ rums in every style and category.

650 Gough, SF. (415) 869-1900, www.smugglerscovesf.com

 

SPECS TWELVE ADLER MUSEUM

North Beach, $

Classic, Dive, Mellow

An ode to SF history filled with colorful locals and eye-popping knickknacks, this dive is an institution tucked away off busy Columbus Ave. For decades, Specs encourages conversation and community with cheap drinks and a warm welcome, treating everyone like regulars.

12 Saroyan Pl., SF. (415) 421-4112

 

TOMMY'S

Outer Richmond, $–$$

Dive, Classic, Spirits Selection

Since 1965, Tommy's has stocked the most extensive collection of 100% agave tequila outside of Mexico. Julio Bermejo, like his father Tommy and mother Elmy before him, stays true to the familial roots of this old school Mexican restaurant, virtually unchanged since the '60s. Tommy's famed classic margarita, dusty, rare bottles of tequila stacked under the bar, Tommy's Tequila Masters club, a divey-perfect back bar... all explain why Tommy's is an SF institution. Watch for the release of Julio's own long-anticipated tequila. There's only one Tommy's.

5929 Geary Blvd, SF. (415) 387-4747, www.tommystequila.com

 

TORONADO

Lower Haight, $

Beer Haven, Classic, Dive, Gourmet Bites

One of SF's best beer bars since it opened more than 20 years ago, Toronado has stayed true to its dive-y roots. Sometimes-gruff bartenders can be overlooked for an ever-impressive selection of dozens of beers on tap from around the globe. Toronado launched a rarity: a Barleywine Festival, featuring over 50 draft barleywines every February. Paired with Rosamunde's sausages from next door, the killer duo is an SF institution.

547 Haight, SF. (415) 863-2267, www.toronado.com

 

TOSCA

North Beach, $

Classic, Memorable Atmosphere

What would North Beach be without Tosca? Surviving Prohibition with its "house cappuccinos" (brandy and hot chocolate), Tosca's Italian-only jukebox and elegantly faded decor have worn the better part of a century with grace. Saved from tragically closing, it will be given new life at the hands of NY chef April Bloomfield. Here's praying Tosca's one-of-a-kind space, sacred celebrity back room, and espresso machine remain as is, though food and new-and-improved cocktail menu are predicted to be part of Bloomfield's take-over.

242 Columbus, SF. (415) 986-9651, www.toscacafesf.com

 

TRICK DOG

Mission, $$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere

The new kid on the Mission block feels like it has been around awhile, both from the years anticipating its opening and the crew behind it: SF's great barmen, The Bon Vivants. Fan through a Pantone color swatch menu of original cocktails, impeccably made, and chow on Chester Watson's winning food (Peruvian popcorn or Fernet ice cream?) Just get there at early if you want to avoid the crowds.

3010 20th St., SF. (415) 471-2999, www.trickdogbar.com

 

TWO SISTERS BAR & BOOKS

Hayes Valley, $–$$

Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Mellow

Like the ultimate European neighborhood bar, two actual sisters modeled this spot after all day café-bars from their European travels. Closet-sized and lined with books, there's always jazz playing on the stereo and a warm greeting. Affordable, homey food is as lovely as the cocktails featuring local and small batch spirits.

579 Hayes, SF. (415) 863-3655, www.2sistersbarandbooks.com

 

VESUVIO

North Beach, $

Classic, Dive, Memorable Atmosphere

Beat poet hangout, eclectic mishmash of creaky wood booths, nooks, knick-knacks and colorful personalities, Vesuvio is not so much about the drinks as the character. Just like Tosca and Specs across the street (three completely different vibes), Vesuvio has been around for decades, drawing longtimers and tourists alike. It maintains a bar personality all its own, a historical landmark that remains alive and vibrant today.

255 Columbus, SF. (415) 362-3370 www.vesuvio.com

 

ZEITGEIST

Mission, $

Beer Haven, Dive

Service can be downright gruff. Lines can snake down the block. Just to enter a biker-friendly dive mobbed with bike messengers, black-clad rockers, and scruffy hipsters? Hell, yes. The punk-spirited biergarten out back is one of SF's legendary gathering places where locals and visitors alike assemble around communal picnic tables over Bloody Marys, basic burgers, brats, and beers.

199 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7505, www.zeitgeistsf.com

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

83 Proof, SoMa

Bar 888, SoMa

Barrel Room, Union Square

Barrique, Financial District

Beretta, Mission

Casanova, Mission

City Beer Store, SoMa

Connecticut Yankee, Potrero Hill

Green's Sports Bar, Russian Hill

Harry Denton's, Union Square

Hidden Vine, Financial District

Horseshoe Tavern, Marina

Iron & Gold, Bernal Heights

La Mar, Embarcadero

La Trappe, North Beach

Li Po, Chinatown

Napper Tandy, Mission

Noc Noc, Lower Haight

Nopa, Western Addition

Pause Wine Bar, Hayes Valley

Pisco Latin Lounge, Mission

Riptide, Outer Sunset

Rock Bar, Outer Mission

Quince, Financial District

Slanted Door, Embarcadero

St. Vincent, Mission

The Page, Lower Haight

Tony Nik's, North Beach

Upcider, Polk Gulch

Yield Wine Bar, Dogpatch

 

 

EAST BAY TOP 10

Forbidden Island

Honor Kitchen & Cocktails

Prizefighter

New Easy

Bar Three Fifty-Five

Heinold's First & Last Chance Saloon

The Trappist

Beer Revolution

Hotsty Totsy

Flora

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