The San Francisco Day Drinking Guide

The 16 best places for day drinking in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Day Drinking Guide image

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

Everyone loves to talk about the hiking and museums in San Francisco, but the best-kept secret of the Bay Area is that it’s the perfect place for day drinking. On a nice day, it’s usually still a degree or 17 too cold to actually enjoy the beach, but given that the sun is out, you probably won’t want to spend all day inside the SFMOMA, either. Skip Mount Tam and go enjoy the best day drinking spots the city has to offer.

The Spots

photo credit: Noah Webb


Civic Center

$$$$Perfect For:Outdoor/Patio SituationDrinks & A Light BiteDay Drinking


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When you want to drink with a view, you can (illegally) brown bag it at the top of a hill, or, to avoid almost getting hit by a scooter every two blocks, you can go to Charmaine’s instead. While this place is more of a nighttime spot, the view from the Proper Hotel is just as spectacular during the day. Plus, the sun can warm you up if there are no seats by a fireplace outside. Head inside to check out the Alice In Wonderland and Mad Men-inspired space and order a Nature Boy with passion fruit and rye at the bar while you’re there.

Biergarten in Hayes Valley is the kind of place you plan to go to for an hour and end up spending the whole day at. They serve a variety of German beers in either liter or half liter mugs, so once you’ve settled in with your crew, you won’t need to head to the bar every thirty seconds for a refill. Rather you can hang out and talk about everything from your roommate’s love of NASCAR t-shirts, to that awful time in middle school when you accidentally made a three pointer in the wrong team’s basket. When you inevitably get hungry, they have things like pretzels and sausages to snack on, or you can head to Barcino or Souvla nearby for something more substantial.

When it’s nice out, Park Chalet is the ideal day drinking spot. This place feels like a backyard party, with lots of lawn chairs to sit in and plenty of beers to try, all of which are brewed in-house. The beer garden also backs up to Golden Gate Park, which you and your friends can take a walk through after a few drinks, or use for an overly enthusiastic game of adult hide and seek.

There are a few communal tables at Palm House reserved for walk-ins, so if you show up during the day and grab a spot at one of those, you don’t have to order food just to sit and drink. If it’s still early enough for brunch, go with something “light,” like a vodka and raspberry prosecco Palm 75, before going for a rum slushie with prickly pear or guava. Once you’ve been there a while and want something small to eat, get the smashed avocado to split with the group.

You have a bunch of friends in town, forgot to plan anything, and now they’re throwing words around like “Pier 39” and “the Full House place.” El Techo is one of the only legitimate rooftop bar options in the city, and daytime means you don’t have to deal with the never-ending line that forms once the sun goes down. It also has the same view of the skyline you get from your Mission apartment’s rooftop, but with the kind of pulled pork and margaritas you could never make on your own.

The Interval is one of SF’s more unusual bars, and will instantly impress anyone you take simply by showing them you know it exists. This all-day spot has kind of a coffee shop vibe that combines the offices of a chemistry professor and a Mission start-up. Instead of tea and coffee though, they serve a long and impressive list of cocktails. It’s a good spot for a solo drink, or for a small group after you “exercised” by walking around the Presidio.

If Zeitgeist was a person, he would be covered in tattoos, smell like stale beer (while claiming to only drink bourbon), and rant about the vampiric effect the tech bubble has had on San Francisco’s culture. You always get the feeling that this Mission bar both loves and hates you - you can generally get in without a wait, but they’ll always make it seem like they’re doing you a favor. Zeitgeist continues to be worth it though, especially during the day when you and all your friends can head to the big back patio, take over one of the picnic tables, and order too many pitchers of beer. And then too many of their burgers.

Hayes Valley can occasionally feel like it was designed by a committee of lifestyle bloggers, and Anina fits right into all the neighborhood’s cliches. Except that it’s actually a fun place to hang out. They have punch bowls and a string light-filled side patio that’s even better during the day than it is at night.

In a city full of bars that are either packed with people or entirely empty, Southern Pacific is an outlier. It’s spacious enough that even at its busiest, it won’t make you feel claustrophobic. It’s also a great spot for a day party, rather than cramming your extended friend group into your not-so-extended apartment. Go early, snag a table, and get a house Moscow mule or five.

At this point it’s well-documented that we fully endorse El Rio for almost any situation. Depending on the day, it can be great for either a casual drink while shooting pool or body shots with strangers. On the best days, both things happen.

Not all day drinking needs to be done in the great outdoors. Reed and Greenough feels like drinking in an old library, without your middle school’s librarian whispering about the Dewey Decimal System. The cocktails are excellent, and it’s the perfect spot to grab a laid-back afternoon drink with your friend who also values the indoors.

Bar Bocce is where you can pretend you’re at a beach club in Mykonos without having to actually go to Mykonos. However, it does require a field trip to Sausalito. Since it’s also one of the only bars in the Bay Area that’s actually on the water, it’s become our go-to for an afternoon of bocce, pizza, and having a few beers or splitting a pitcher of sangria.

Wildhawk has some of the best cocktails and people watching you can find in the Mission. It’s sandwiched between Valencia and Mission, and doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, making it perfect for posting up for the afternoon without having to battle any crowds. Plus, it’s all indoors, so it works whether the sun is out, or Karl has settled in for the week.

You’ve finally gotten everyone to agree to meet for an afternoon drink, but no one can decide on where to go. If you’re anywhere close to the Marina, save yourself some time - and 50 group texts - and just go to The Tipsy Pig. There’s somehow always an open table on the back patio to sit with friends, the menu has some solid bar food options, and everyone you’ve ever met is here.

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Suggested Reading

Charmaine’s image


Charmaine’s is the rooftop bar at the San Francisco Proper hotel in Civic Center.

Biergarten image

An outdoor beer garden in Hayes Valley, Biergarten is here for your day drinking needs.

The patio at Zeitgeist.

Zeitgeist in the Mission is the quintessential San Francisco beer bar. Its patio is packed anytime it’s sunny.

The Interval image

The Interval in Fort Mason is a unique bar with lots of books to read.

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