20 Best Bars in San Francisco

Best Bars in San Francisco

The cultural, commercial and financial centre of Northern California, San Francisco is the 16th largest city in the US and the 4th largest in California. A city known for its innovative ideas and creativity, this translates to the drinking scene as well with inventive and unique cocktail bars. Classic cocktails, cocktails named after literary inspirations or beat generation poets, healthy(ish) cocktails, tiki bars, there is a cocktail lover’s dream. But if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of great pubs serving beers, whiskeys and other liquors. The spots we have listed here are some of the best bars in San Francisco to enjoy a solo drink, with friends or visitors from out of town.

Bourbon and Branch

Say “books” and you can enter this Speakeasy bar. Small and cozy, the lighting and decor are beautiful. The ambience is intimate and classy.

There are complex cocktails concocted by their talented mixologists, so if you want to try something unique and exciting, this is your stop. They have some beers too.

This is a nice, quaint place to hang out with friends or your date and enjoy the conversations. So stack your phone away and get lost in time!

501 Jones St
San Francisco, CA 94102
b/t Ofarrell St & Geary St
Tenderloin
(415) 346-1735
http://www.bourbonandbranch.com/

The Buena Vista

Irish coffee is a popular drink here. It has just the right amount of whiskey and cream topping. The ambience is touristy and classy and your visit to SF will not be complete without a visit to Buena Vista!

They have outdoor seating. The establishment is kiddo and dog-friendly. The food is delicious Irish and American pub-style food.

2765 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109
b/t North Point St & Beach St
Russian Hill, Fisherman’s Wharf
(415) 474-5044
http://www.thebuenavista.com/home/home.html

El Techo

El Techo serves some of the best cocktails in the city. The food is great as well. We highly recommend the Chicharrones de Carne. The pork is flavorful, tender and goes amazingly well with the crispy chicharrones.

The patio and rooftop both offer stunning views of SF. The service is impeccable. The atmosphere is trendy, classy and casual.

So look on the gorgeous view of San Francisco as you drink one of their amazing signature cocktails and much on some delicious Latin American street food!

2516 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
b/t 21st St & 22nd St
Mission
https://eltechosf.com/

Starbelly

Startbelly is your friendly neighborhood restaurant located in the lively  Castro District. They are known for their seasonal cocktails and California comfort food. Apart from the cocktails, they also serve a unique selection of wine along with craft beer.

The ambience is classy, casual and the whole place is clean and modern with sidewalk booths, inside seatings and outdoor patio.

3583 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
b/t Pond St & Market St
Castro
(415) 252-7500
https://starbellysf.com/

Toronado

The Tornado is the place for all beer enthusiasts. They serve almost 100 varieties of beer on tap and in bottles/cans. Unassuming on the outside, on the inside it a fun Dive bar. There are beer ephemera and signs everywhere, that is cool and fun to look at.

They are dog-friendly too. They don’t have a kitchen so you can bring your own food from home or order from the restaurant nearby.

547 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
b/t Steiner St & Fillmore St
Lower Haight
(415) 863-2276
https://www.toronado.com/

Smuggler’s Cove

This is one of the top rum and exotic cocktail places in San Francisco. This ship hull themed tiki bar features vintage tiki artifacts and historical nautical and rum artifacts. At Smuggler’s Cove, they stock over 550 rum varieties on their shelves! 

If you are looking for a unique place to check in to and if you are partial to rum, then Smuggler’s Cove would be a great choice! You will like you have been transported back in time to a pirate ship the minute you walk into the bar.

650 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102
b/t Mcallister St & Ash St
Fillmore
(415) 869-1900
https://www.smugglerscovesf.com/

The Alembic

This is a craft cocktail bar in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood. Apart from craft cocktails, they serve local drafts and an extensive whiskey selection. The ambience is hipster and classy, with a cosy and welcoming feel.

The food is just as delicious as the drinks. The wait staff is cordial and attentive. The Alembic is perfect for a date night or a quiet night with your best mates!

1725 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
b/t Cole St & Shrader St
The Haight
(415) 666-0822
https://alembicsf.com/

Local Edition

This place is quite the hidden gem! They serve an extensive menu of cocktails and whiskeys. The cocktails are craft, but they also have some unique concoctions like vodka with matcha green tea for one. The cocktails are innovative, flavorful, well balanced and delicious! Apart from cocktails, they serve beer, wine and other spirits and liquors as well.

Unassuming on the outside, the inside is dim light and almost swanky. The dark lighting and basement location gives it a speakeasy vibe. Newspaper decors everywhere and if you go to the restroom, you will see an old typewriter. So cool!  There are antique clocks, typewriters, and newspaper clippings throughout – all outdated memorabilia items. The ambience is trendy and classy with laid back and friendly service. Don’t be surprised to hear some old jazz making its way over to you because they place live music here.

1725 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
b/t Cole St & Shrader St
The Haight
(415) 666-0822
https://www.localeditionsf.com/

Rickhouse

The Rickhouse is a whiskey and cocktail bar. The decor is mind-blowing with walls adorned with whiskey, bourbon, ryes and other spirits from bar to ceiling. The cocktails list is extensive too and they are crafted to perfection.

The service is friendly and professional. The ambience is trendy, upscale classy. Cosy up in the laid back atmosphere with rustic vibes and order a cocktail or whiskey. You won’t be disappointed!

246 Kearny St
San Francisco, CA 94108
b/t Hardie Pl & Sutter St
Financial District
(415) 398-2827
https://www.rickhousebar.com/

Rye

This is a cocktail bar that serves some of the best and creative libations. Not into cocktails? They stock up on wine and beer too. They have a pool table too which you can play for free and if you like to smoke while you drink, amble over to the open-air porch and you can enjoy both.

The ambience is trendy and classy and the vibe of the place with its quaint dim lighting, candles at the table, creative artwork, lovely twinkling lights and a great choice of music with variety playing in the background is just perfect. The service is friendly and graceful.

688 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102
b/t Jones St & Leavenworth St
Lower Nob Hill
(415) 474-4448
https://www.ryeontheroad.com/

Broken Record

A true whiskey connoisseur will adore this place as it has over 300 delicious whiskeys to choose from. The food is amazing, with a lot of pescatarian options. It is a divey bar with a cozy patio at the back and excellent service.

There is a pool table for some fun and TVs to catch the game. The food is good with plenty of vegetarian options. The burgers and sandwiches, in particular, are mouth-watering!

1166 Geneva Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
b/t Edinburgh St & Naples St
Crocker-Amazon
(415) 963-1713
http://www.brokenrecordbar.com/

District San Francisco

The District is a wine and whiskey bar that also specializes in pizza, charcuterie and shareable plates. There are around 20 varieties of wine by the glass/bottle, several cocktails and several draft beers and several beers in bottles/cans. The whiskey list is well crafted and extensive with over 100 varieties!

The interior is spacious with wooden tables and chairs and plush cushioned seats. The ambience is trendy, classy with awesome aesthetics. The staff is super friendly and helpful. It is a terrific spot for date night or to hang out with friends or co-workers.

216 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107
at 3rd St
Mission Bay
(415) 896-2120
https://districtsf.com/

Butter

The Butter offers plenty of cocktails with nutritious grapes and strawberry sodas for the health freaks. They are also popular for the iconic R.V., which is a generous portion of Red Bull and Vodka. They have a great selection of beers too.

This is the ultimate fun Dive and dance bar with neon signs, flags, paraphernalia and posters, housed in a large, bright, yellow square building that does justice to its name “butter”. Heck, it looks like a huge slab of butter from the outside. The atmosphere is wild, lovely and super casual.

Come down here with your fun element on. It can get plenty loud with the music, the karaoke and of course the people have fun. The energy of the place is palpable! You’ll have a blast!

354 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
b/t Folsom St & Harrison St
SoMa
(415) 863-5964
https://smoothasbutter.com

Novela

At Novela, they serve cocktails with character. The speciality cocktails are named after books! The decor on the walls is book-themed as well, with spines of several books arranged artfully. Novella pays homage to the classic novels, authors and literary characters through their decor and drinks. They have some punches to share too. The punch bowl is great if you’re hanging out as a group.

The food menu is good and goes well with the drinks. If you like a well-made drink and a bibliophile, you should definitely pop into the Novela!

662 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
b/t New Montgomery St & Annie St
Financial District, SoMa
(415) 896-6500
https://novelastore.com/

15 Romolo

Romolo is a cocktail bar that serves artisanal cocktails and locally sourced bar menu. There’s beer too for all your beer aficionados. The ambience is hipster and classy and it can get pretty loud but not deafening loud.

The vibe is pretty chill and laid back. The wait staff is accommodating and helpful. Don’t forget to get your photo snapped at the photo booth in the corner on your way out! The Pimm’s Cup Cocktail is what every patron here raves about and if definitely lives up to its hope. Try it out when you are here!

Located in:

Basque Hotel
15 Romolo Pl
San Francisco, CA 94133
b/t Broadway St & Fresno St
North Beach/Telegraph Hill
(415) 398-1359
https://www.yelp.com/biz/15-romolo-san-francisco

The Progress

The Progress has a full bar with an extensive and eclectic wine list and delightful cocktails. The food is great too with interesting and unique flavours, enough to satisfy any foodie!

The ambience is trendy, classy and casual and the service is professional, attentive and responsive. The place has outdoor seating options and they are dog-friendly too. The BBQ Liberty Farm Duck is simply out of this world, something you cannot miss!

1525 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
b/t Ofarrell St & Geary Blvd
Western Addition
(415) 673-1294
https://theprogress-sf.com/

Vesuvio Cafe

This is one of the most popular bars in San Francisco. It has an interesting and rich history associated with it. Jack Kerouac, the pioneer of the beat generation was a regular at this place. Him and many beat artists. Woah!

The ambience is classy, casual and the vibe is energetic, upbeat and is full of life and character. Drinks are amazing and the service is prompt and helpful. They have a full bar with a wide array of beers on tap as well as several specialty cocktails. Predictably, there’s even the Jack Kerouac drink here! It is made with rum, tequila and orange and cranberry juices.

If you want to spend your time in a unique place and travel back in time by a few decades, visit the Vesuvio Cafe. It will appeal to the artistic spirit in you!

255 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
b/t Broadway St & Jack Kerouac Aly
Chinatown
(415) 362-3370
https://vesuvio.com/

Martuni’s

Martuni’s is a fun and lively bar with a classy and intimate ambience. It is a great place if you are particular to the martini. Original martinis and good old fashioned cocktails are delightful. You can look forward to a lot of good music played at the piano by the very talented musicians.

There are wine options as well, but you’re here for the martinis, people!

4 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
b/t Mccoppin St & Market St
SoMa
(415) 241-0205

Trick Dog

The Trick Dog is a cocktail bar that serves cocktails and beer.  They have good food as well and the Kale salad seems to be the universal favorite. It’s not that difficult to see why! It is a generous portion, perfectly dressed with huge chunks of deliciously creamy avocado in it. Yum!

The menu itself is the trick and they keep changing it around every 6 months to keep it unique and interesting. So if you are a cocktail lover, have fun unravelling the trick and drinking a well made and presented cocktail!

3010 20th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
b/t Alabama St & Florida St
Mission
(415) 471-2999
https://www.trickdogbar.com/

Tunnel Top

The Tunnel Top has 14 beers on draft, a list of signature cocktails such as The Old Fashioned, Hendricks Cucumber Gimlet, Fresh watermelon gimlet, Fresh berries Mojito etc. The live DJ plays eclectic music ranging from funk to soul and hip hop. They have a great happy hour for 2 hours every morning and great offers on cocktails and beers.

The ambience is divey and classy. This is a cosy bar with a rather rustic feel. They have TV as well to catch the game as you grab a beer. This people, is of the best dive bars, with great location, ambience, service and music. What’s there not to love!

601 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
b/t Stockton St & Burritt St
Union Square, Financial District
(415) 235-6587
https://tunneltop.bar/