WHERE DOES SF GO TO DRINK? WE'VE GOT OPTIONS IN EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD
This will be epic… a bar crawl bigger than five livers can handle. Oh, but don’t worry; we would never suggest you crawl from one side of SF to the other and visit 90 bars in one night—you can have a few months.
Each district offers a different flavor with an even more different crowd. That’s one of the perks of living in San Francisco—a bar crawl can imitate world travels in a night. We suggest starting from the east and making your way west—like the pioneers, and with a similar appetite for mixed libations.
In the Financial District/Chinatown area, you’ll find Li Po Lounge in the heart of it all. It’s dark, it’s dive-y, and the old bar is covered in Chinese Decor, plus it serves one of the best mai tais in the city. Try to go on an off night, as this place is already getting popular. Crossing Market, you can head over to the newest addition to SoMa’s nightlife scene—Bergerac. It’s bohemian chic with a global-inspired pub-food kitchen and deliciously handcrafted cocktails by master mixologist Russell Davis.
You need to appreciate all facets of SF culture in order to realize just how amazing the city is, so when you’ve had your fill of SoMa, head over to the Tenderloin for an immediate change of scenery. Check out Aunt Charlie’s Lounge—with any luck, you’ll go on a night where a live performance is happening. P.S., this place is one of the oldest gay bars in the city; it’s fun without the cache of a Castro bar. Having a drink at the bar here is like drinking with history, so treat the place with respect, no matter how dodgy the surrounds.
Have you had enough? No? Well, for your last stop, you need some quiet, so we’ll send you off to Cole Valley to enjoy a game of backyard table tennis at Finnegan’s Wake. It appears to be a traditional pub where local character and regulars abound. In the back patio, you’ll find paddles for table tennis. Hit a few balls, and get sober for the drive home.
For another day of crawling, might we suggest you start from the east? Perhaps after visiting the beautiful and often frigid Ocean Beach, have a drink at Rip Tide. It has a cozy fireplace, lots of beers, and, if you’re lucky, open-mic night! Go ahead—sing your heart out. After being kicked out for your drunken outburst, consider going to the Inner Sunset and having a pint at Yancy’s Saloon. OK, you’re warming up now—it’s always warm at Yancy’s—so you’re getting antsy. Let’s kick it up a notch and grab a cab to Laurel Heights and get swanky at Swank. This posh little bar is a great place to go on a date or for a quiet evening, and it’s one of the best spots in the city for an old fashioned. Once you feel the love and step out of your Mad Men mentality, we suggest exploring toward the Haight for a drink and a snack at Magnolia. (With some luck, there won’t be a long-ass line.) Enjoy a fried chicken sandwich with a Belgian beer, and then skedaddle on over to the Castro to dance with some bears at 440. Bears, you ask? You know, burly gay men. Don’t worry: they’re harmless—just don’t give ‘em any honey. On Wednesdays, it’s two-for-one night. If that’s too much for you, then you can go check out the new interiors and the mixed crowd at Blackbirdover on Market, where you can have a couple of classy and delicious cocktails—the perfect nightcap for a long day of fun.
Ready to go out there again? Perfect. Now we’re going on a real bar crawl. Take the BART to meet up, ‘cause we can walk it from here. End up on 24th Street, and try some cocktails at Zoe’s, a small, ‘40s-inspired cocktail bar with nibbles. If you come early enough in the day, you can check out the neighborhood and enjoy some panaderia goods to support the local economy in the Mission. From there, go back to Mission Street and hit up Laszlo, Latin American Club, Doc’s Clock, The 500 Club, Elixir, The Hideout at Dalva, and Gestalt Haus in a flash. All these places have something different to offer, and the walk from place to place will prove entertaining.
Now you get the idea. Each of the places plotted on the map is worth a visit, so let us know what you think. If you come across some a-hole, let us know, and we’ll beat ‘em up for you. Just kidding.
The article is just a sampler of crawls - so check out this SF MAP of Bars we recommend to check out to get a great diverse SF Nightlife Experience.
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