Bars & Clubs

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Beer Selection Toronado Best Dive Bar The Page Best Gay-Friendly Bar El Rio Best Karaoke The Mint Best Live Music Venue The Independent Best Cocktail Southern Exposure at Alembic Best Cocktail Bar Smuggler's Cove Best Margarita Tommy's Best Martini Martuni's Best New Bar Virgil's Sea Room Best New Club Audio Best Pub Crawl SantaCon Best Rooftop El Techo de Lolinda Best Singles Bar Madrone Art Bar Best Sports Bar Hi Tops Best Strip Club Gold Club Best Wine Bar Noeteca … More >>
  • Best New Beer Bar

    Mikkeller Bar

    One of the most upscale gastropubs in San Francisco, Copenhagen export Mikkeller Bar at the Tenderloin's easternmost extremity is an exposed-brick cavern with 42 beers and house-made headcheese. Tech money is in the air, but considering its pedigree and proximity to Union Square, Mikkeller is amazingly non-touristy. Packed with and staffed by beer nerds, it's also got the cleanest bathrooms… More >>
  • Best Classic Beer Bar

    Toronado

    Any bar that updates its draft beer list online more or less daily wins plaudits among serious beer aficionados, and Toronado Pub routinely pours Pliny the Elder those 50 weeks out of the year when Pliny the Younger hibernates. California obscurities, Belgian rarities, and microbrewery one-offs prevail at the Lower Haight's most discerning dive, with its spacious back room and… More >>
  • Best Old-Money Bar

    The Lounge

    Everyone gets so focused on the unfortunate effects of the new wave of tech boom money and Google buses that they forget that rich people have been living among us quietly for a very long time. While the masses head out to the Top of the Mark for a splurge and a perceived taste of the high life, the real… More >>
  • Wingtip

    Best New-Money Bar

    Wingtip

    Fittingly situated in the heart of the Financial District is the private bar at Wingtip. With a collection of rare spirits, star bartender Brian MacGregor, and plenty of amenities like car service and champagne rooms, this private club has everything the nouveau riche need and want. While the yearly membership fee is out of reach for most of us proles,… More >>
  • Best No-Money Bar

    Bender's

    While a pocketful of lint will get you nothing at any bar, a few bucks will get you plenty here at Bender's. Yes, there are cheaper (barely), dirtier, and scarier dive bars in San Francisco, but Bender's succeeds by being a perfect mix of bar and clubhouse. Everyone is welcome, there are bike hooks inside, and most weeknights offer a… More >>
  • Best No-Money Bar

    Bender's

    While a pocketful of lint will get you nothing at any bar, a few bucks will get you plenty here at Bender's. Yes, there are cheaper (barely), dirtier, and scarier dive bars in San Francisco, but Bender's succeeds by being a perfect mix of bar and clubhouse. Everyone is welcome, there are bike hooks inside, and most weeknights offer a… More >>
  • Best $5 Jazz Show

    Club Deluxe

    A few years ago, San Francisco pinned its jazz-city hopes on the Fillmore, building a palatial music venue alongside a phalanx of bebop-themed restaurants and statues of — among other things — a guy playing the saxophone. But one of the city's best jazz clubs is a hole-in-the-wall on Haight Street, with bathroom graffiti and cheap door covers ($5 is… More >>
  • Best Place to Hide Out From the Shopping Hordes of Powell Street

    The Tempest

    If you live in San Francisco and ever venture to the vicinity of Powell and Market on a Saturday afternoon, you know what we're talking about. Maybe your mom is in town and wants to see Williams-Sonoma, or you need a new dish rack from Target. Whatever the reason, after about 30 minutes around here, you've had it: The sidewalks… More >>
  • Best Subtle Evolution of a Small Music Venue

    Rickshaw Stop

    Rickshaw Stop celebrated its 10th birthday this year, but the onetime auto shop, TV studio, and now music club exists in a state of perpetual adolescence. In a town where everyone and everything seeks improvement and progress, the unmarked Fell Street spot has happily stayed its own funky self. It's neither a rock venue nor a dance club, but some… More >>
  • The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

    Best Big Music Venue

    The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

    This venue brings tsunami-sized crowds and music superstars, with acts featuring all the pyrotechnics and lighting spectaculars that you could want or need. Named after the legendary San Francisco promoter, who at one point or another represented or aided local acts like Santana, The Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, John Fogerty, Bonnie Raitt, Journey, and other rock stars, the concert hall… More >>
  • Trick Dog

    Best Menus

    Trick Dog

    When hip Mission bar Trick Dog opened in January 2013, San Francisco design enthusiasts fell over themselves in delight over the cool laminated menus based on the Pantone color guide. It featured drinks based on particularly inspiring color names like Polar Bear (mezcal, sweet vermouth, and crème de menthe) and Pennies From Heaven (rye, amaro, sour apple liqueur, sherry, and… More >>
  • El Techo de Lolinda

    Best New Outdoor Bar

    El Techo de Lolinda

    While rooftop access at a friend's apartment may be easy to come by, we're pretty sure your friend isn't serving Palomas and frozen piña coladas under heat lamps. That's where El Techo comes in. It's the perfect place to transport yourself from the foggy S.F. streets to a warm oasis where cocktails and chicharrones arrive at your table as you… More >>
  • Best Classic Outdoor Bar

    Zeitgeist

    The expansive back patio at Zeitgeist is more or less San Francisco's backyard, and as such, you're lucky to get out of there without running into someone awkward: a one-night-stand you hoped to never see again, a co-worker whose name you can't remember, a friend you haven't made time for in months. Such encounters are all part of the Zeitgeist… More >>
  • Best New Hotel Bar

    S&R Lounge in the Hotel Zetta

    Short for "salvage and rescue," this two-story bar in the lobby of the Hotel Zetta mingles classic design with a tech twist. The recently renovated space could feel like just another boutique hotel lobby bar, but its trappings reflect Silicon Valley start-up culture. The decor is eclectic. On the ground floor lies the bar, plenty of tables, a hanging chair,… More >>
  • Best Classic Hotel Bar

    The Tonga Room

    Oh, Tonga Room, you crazy, wonderful, fever dream of a bar. There's a lot about the kitschy tropical spot in the Fairmont Hotel to make one uncomfortable if they were to think about it too hard. The carved-wooden tiki gods and other odds 'n' ends around the place stop just short of racism — this is not the bar to… More >>
  • Best Antique Nightclub

    The Endup

    Its recent interior remodel might suggest otherwise, but The Endup is one of the city's oldest nightclubs. It originally opened in 1972, and has remained a fixture in the San Francisco dance music scene ever since. A big part of the appeal is its retro after-hours license — at the time of its founding, clubs were allowed to stay open… More >>
  • Best Futuristic Nightclub

    DNA Lounge

    DNA Lounge evokes a sense of the future in its iconic interior design. Step through the door, and you'll swear you've been transported to some battle-scarred spaceship traversing an obscure corner of a resource-depleted universe. That aesthetic also manifests itself in the club's tech savvy, which includes interesting touches like hacked ATMs (bearing ironic and strangely dystopian slogans like, "This… More >>
  • Best Venue From a Prior Era

    Danzhaus

    As development in the city center continues at a ridiculous pace, underground club culture has had to spread out to less-frequented areas: Think Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, and Bayview. Interestingly, these neighborhoods have their own nightlife history, which often stretches back to the '90s rave heyday. Case in point is Danzhaus (previously Gingerbread House), a fully licensed dance studio on the… More >>
  • Best Nightclub That's a Symbol for the Tech Boom

    The Grand

    In the '70s and early '80s, the Trocadero Transfer was one of the best gay clubs in San Francisco. It had superior sound, forward-thinking DJs from New York and Miami, and an atmosphere that — if the stories are to be believed — has yet to be surpassed by anyone here since. Sadly, though, the space that housed the Trocadero… More >>
  • Best Party That's Changed the Most

    Lights Down Low

    Travel back in time to 2006 and you'd have a hard time recognizing Lights Down Low next to its current incarnation. Back then, it was an electro-fueled, high-octane scenester hangout in the sweat-box basement of the now-shuttered 222 Hyde. Today, it's grown to be one of the largest parties in the city — so big, in fact, that it's expanded… More >>
  • Best Party That's Been Around For a While

    Honey Soundsystem

    It's sometimes hard to believe that Honey Soundsystem is now 8 years old, but it is. In that span of time, a lot has changed — the queer DJ party outfit has switched venues, it's gone from weekly to irregular, and it's gained and lost some members — but one thing has remained the same: Honey's dedication to throwing a… More >>
  • Best Dive Bars That Will Survive the Apocalypse

    By Pete Kane Bars open all the time with every intention of entering the exalted dive bar pantheon, but you can't just spray on street cred like an instant-aging veneer for patio furniture. It takes decades of wear and tear to develop into a real dive. The surrounding neighborhood has to endure at least a little upheaval. Consequently, there are some… More >>
  • Best Saloons to Make You Feel Like a Prospector

    By Lou Bustamante The Gold Rush days in San Francisco may be past, but that doesn't mean you can't relive the thrill of drinking like you spent the whole day mining — even if now it's Bitcoins instead of nuggets. Much of the era's grandeur may have given way during the Great Quake, but here are five places you can kick… More >>
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