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Bin 38: A wine bar that also features a solid beer list and full food menu, Bin 38 is a good place to bring a date or just catch up with friends. There's plenty of outdoor seating for warm evenings, including a back patio with a fire pit. The background music, played at a volume that still allows for conversation, is a mix of songs you know by heart. Happy hour runs 5-7 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, with $6 glasses of wine, $4 craft beers, and 40 percent off wine bottles to go; on Tuesdays, take 40 percent off all bottles served in house from open to close. 3232 Scott, 567-3838, bin38.com.
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Blush! Wine Bar: Across from the Castro Theatre, Blush! is a cozy pre-movie place to grab a drink. With jazz nights on Thursdays and subtle background music other nights, this bar is a low-key Castro option. A plush couch propped against the burgundy, art-adorned wall offers a cozy seat for intimate groups, while a long, wooden table towards the back accommodates a larger group of ten. Featuring a comprehensive list of nearly 100 wines stored in proper wooden racks, Blush! serves the amateur and oenophile alike, where $70-$80 can fetch you a bottle of a crisp and fruity white or an earthy 6-year-old Bordeaux, or $6 can get a more temperate-flavored but generous pour. The food portion of the menu boasts rich and rustic European small plates, cheese and savory charcuterie platters, and nibbles such as Kalamata olives and tapenade. 476 Castro, 558-0893, blushwinebar.com.
Bubble Lounge: San Francisco's premier champagne house complements its exhaustive menu of bubbly with appetizers and weekend DJs. The overall vibe is loungey and often full of women in their favorite little black dresses. 714 Montgomery, 434-4204, bubblelounge.com.
District Wine Lounge: Stick to cheese plates, cured meats, oysters, and the smallest of small plates if you're eating a full-blown meal at this handsome, spacious wine bar near the Giants baseball stadium. The chickpea fries with chevre-stuffed Peppadew peppers and spicy albacore tempura roll are tasty. The kitchen definitely sits in the shadow of the wine list. The happy hour scene is dependably lively. 216 Townsend, 896-2120, districtsf.com.
Etcetera Wine Bar: In addition to its globetrotting wine menu, Etcetera also specializes in "flammeküche," a unique type of French pizza. 795 Valencia, 926-5477, etceterawinebar.com.
Fat Angel: Fat Angel is a great find for a before or after drink if you're going to the Fillmore or Yoshi's. This small space a half-block off the main strip manages to pack an impressive beer and wine menu (including six beers and three wines on draft) into a space that is intimate without being cramped. The owners are usually on hand to assist with the beverage and food menus, the latter of which consists of small plates including charcuterie and artisanal butters (yes, we have artisanal butters now) made with savory bacon and sweet cinnamon. 1740 O'Farrell, 690-3783, fatangelsf.com.
St. Vincent: This Mission wine shop/tavern, named for the patron saint of wine- and vinegar-makers, offers 100 bottles under $100, all available in half-bottle carafes so you can pick and choose. There's also a short, curated selection of fresh local beers on tap, and a full dinner menu that changes daily. 1270 Valencia, 285-1200, stvincentsf.com.
Vin Club: A wine bar tucked into a row of cocktail lounges, strip clubs, and discotheques, the Vin Club features both regional and international varietals, with Friday evening specials to help you whittle down the selections. Pair your vino from the diverse wine list with some scrumptious bites like charcuterie and cheese plates. There's also a cafe food and cocktail menu, plus semi-regular live jazz performances. 515 Broadway, 277-7228, facebook.com/thevinclub.
Vinyl Wine Bar: During the day, Vinyl Wine Bar operates as Cafe Divis, with Blue Bottle Coffee and panini; at night, Mark Bright and Kris Esqueda take over, sliding gauzy black curtains in front of the espresso machines and installing a bartender. It's a comfortable, pretense-free gathering point with walls painted the blue of a Jacques Cousteau documentary and chairs that could have been stolen from a dorm room lounge. Vinyl simultaneously compensates for the lack of a full kitchen and hits the indie demographic with a rotating schedule of food trucks, beer and wine tasting events, and pizza and pasta nights. Check its rapidly changing schedule online. 359 Divisadero, 621-4132, facebook.com/vinylwinebar.
Wine Kitchen: The warm, capacious, and unpretentiously named Wine Kitchen on Divisadero is less a restaurant than a wine bar with small plates. With stints at Commonwealth, Spruce, and NYC's Per Se between them, chef-owners Jason Limburg and Greg Faucette have assembled some impressive wine pairings for dishes whose simplicity belies the degree of technique required. 507 Divisadero, 525-3485, winekitchensf.com.
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