It’s so hard to make a list of the best bars in San Francisco, because there are honestly way too many to choose from. I mean, if you’re a local most likely you have a set 3 bars that are your go to, 2 you go to strictly for first dates, and every once in a while you’ll try a new one just for kicks, but usually you don’t make your way back there for another year. For now, this is my top 10 list of bars that I frequented in 2013 and enjoyed (alone and with friends because I do hang out with people I swear). If you haven’t been to any of these on this list, well, you should probably go. And here’s why, as if you really needed an excuse to go out drinking…
10. Fly (Sutter St.)
Not to be confused with Fly’s evil twin sister on Divisidero. Fly of Sutter St. is the go to spot for my group of friends. Chances are regardless of the time of the day one of us will be there. Because of this, we all know the menu by heart and most likely know all the bartender’s schedules. I don’t go there as much as most of us, but I do enjoy it every time I go. Everyone is super rad, the food is decent and the drinks are strong. My recommendation: the House Sangria.
Not a lot of people make their way out to the “other” side of Folsom, but if you find yourself wandering about 19th and Folsom, be sure to wander into the Homestead for a drink. I like this bar because I can do there by myself, read a book, and eat peanuts and throw the shells on the ground (bonus). For some reason whenever I’m at this bar I really want to drink cheap beer straight from the can and top it off with a shot of Jameson. Nothing special, but my recommendation if you ever go here.
How can you not? This is a staple of San Francisco. Don’t consider yourself a real San Franciscan if you never been there. Just saying. If you haven’t gone, stop what you are doing right now, and go there for a simple yet quant gin and tonic. I don’t know what it is about the gin and tonics at Vesuvio I never crave gin unless I am here. They are made with pure love. Enough said, go here make some tourist friends or something.
Most of time I tell people to avoid 6th street at all cost, right now I’m telling you to go there. Like sun shining at the end of a foggy San Francisco morning, Monarch is that same shine in the break of crack heads. The bar is beautiful, gold and red everything, fancy furniture and a crazy wild party in the basement. Whenever I go there, I feel like I’m not supposed to be there as if it is a speakeasy or a gentlemen’s club. By afternoon it is a classy bar for fancy cocktails, by night head down to the basement and enjoy their incredible sound system and some fireball shots. How could you go wrong?
6. Thee Parkside
And here I go raising the standards for bars with outdoor seating. Many people would probably think that I would put Zeitgiest here because it’s central, that is, it is the go to bar for most people. But no, as much as I like that bar… Thee Parkside does it all better. If you want to smoke outside with your drink, eat amazing food, listening to your punk rock. Well look no further then Thee Parkside. I love this bar for many reasons, but mostly because the staff is nice, the drinks are strong and the food is delicious. I don’t personally smoke, but the smell of smoke and whiskey is very comforting to me. My recommendation for this bar, a margarita to wash down their world famous pulled pork sandwich.
I actually don’t understand why more people don’t talk about this San Francisco staple. Like Vesuvio, if you haven’t been here before you have a serious problem on your hands. This white trash themed bar is determined to get you shit faced the moment you walk in. Whether it is through the numerous Jello shots you are offered every ten minutes, a forty of miller high life literally served in a paper bag or, my personal favorite vodka nightmare, the after school special (vodka and grape soda), you are surely going to black out. Not only do they have the strongest drinks that taste like sugar, they also have a DJ who plays all your favorite 80’s/90’s mashups as well as a trailer that will deep fry anything and serve it to you. There is so much to go wrong with all these combinations but it is worth every questionable thing you don’t remember doing in this bar. What happens at Butter, stays at butter. Next time look for my friend’s pink bra hanging from one of the water pipes on the ceiling, it’s there… true story.
4. Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery
Got to have at least one brewery on this list, if I had to choose one, I would have to go with Magnolia. Conveniently located on Haight Street this bar has some of the finest beers on tap one could ask for. Completely overshadowed by it’s brewery competitors in the city, people forget about Magnolia constantly. Those people are what I like to call “crazy.” Very difficult concept to grasp so I’ll make it easy for you, Stout of Circumstance, or if dark brews aren’t your jam, Sara’s Ruby Mild. You honestly can’t go wrong with any of these beers if you consider yourself a beer lover. The flavors are complex and keep your mouth watering for more. Not to mention, they grill an excellent burger. Pure bliss.
The sweet smell of whiskey and wood haunt me forever, in the best kind of way. Churchill will make you the greatest concoctions involving your favorite alcohol. They don’t shy away when you ask them to make something they think you might like, they simply ask you how you are doing and make something based on what you are feeling, it is quite fantastic. If you want a glass case of emotion, they are going to make that for you, you’ll love it I guarantee. However, magic is in the classics here, my recommendation is their old fashioned.
2. Moby Dicks
Need I say more? If you’re familiar with my column, you know that this place is one of my top favorites! Seriously though, a gay bar straight boys can also enjoy? Who would have thought? Everyone I know who has been here is down, it’s one of the happiest places on Earth. I’m not going to elaborate much, if you really want to know the details of this beautiful place check back in on my article about it here (When In Doubt Drink With The Gays) 2 for 1 Margarita/Lemon Drop specials everyday, how could you go wrong? SHOUTOUT TO MARY THE BARTENTER.
AND THE NUMBER 1 BAR IN SAN FRANCISCO IS….
1. Dear Mom
Dear Mom now occupies a building that has always held a special place in my San Francisco heart. Back when I first moved to this glorious town almost 6 years ago this building on the corner of 16th and Harrison was an interesting bar called El Ricon. I liked going here (when I was 18) because local bands from my art school always played there and they served nachos. Of course, this bar had a dark shadow as it was the only place I’d ever seen someone literally get smashed over the head with a glass bottle. Needless to say, this place was shut down and unoccupied for some time. That is until Dear Mom moved on in, at this point I could drink legally so I was curious to see what they had done with the place. And I was pleasantly surprised. Owned by Whiskey Thieves and Thieves Tavern, this place surpasses all expectations. You got your tasty drinks, local food (different venders occupying the same kitchen changing weekly), and ping pong tables. A match made in heaven. It’s also big enough so if you run into an ex-boyfriend you can hide very easily, amazing. The lighting is cool, the people are awesome, the drinks are cheap, the bathroom is usually nice. No bad things to say about this place. Always a great time, even when it’s packed. Go here, be happy, enjoy drinking out in public.