Just around the corner from the Transamerica Pyramid comes the new Sydney Town Tavern, a reference to Barbary Coast days when exiles from Australian penal colonies populated San Francisco.
It's hardly a wretched hive of scum and villainy in there, though. In fact, it's a fairly ordinary sports bar with a full kitchen and a simple bistro-style menu, executed well. Exposed brick, faux-punched-tin ceilings, wall-mounted TVs and restrained Americana constitute the bulk of the décor. (This is no Outback; there is absolutely no cringe-inducing Australiana.)
Quickies like sandwiches and salads, plus comforting small plates (mussels diavolo, meatballs in red gravy, charcuterie) and entrees such as beer-battered fish n' chips or seafood pasta in a white wine garlic sauce are the stuff of business district gastropubs worldwide. Keeping it simple and delicious is a surefire way to stick around.
There are a few outdoor tables, which makes for fine people-watching on the quaint lane that is Commercial Street. (Slightly inauspiciously, Sydney Town Tavern opened in spite of the building's façade being covered in scaffolding, so you may want to want until the end of High Fog season before hoisting an afternoon pint out there).
The ten taps run the gamut from standbys like Guinness and Big Daddy IPA to Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Hangar 24 Orange Wheat. Cocktails -- all of them conspicuously under $10 -- and a wine list justify staying open until twelve on school nights and two on the weekends. Affordable and welcoming, it's one for the working stiff who just wants a good drink and a good bite. How nice to have a new joint in the FiDi that isn't exclusively devoted to Masters of the Universe.
Sydney Town Tavern, 531 Commercial St., (415) 433-1949.
Follow Pete at @wannacyber