Sure, everyone loves to talk about the hiking and museums in San Francisco, but the best-kept secret of the Bay Area is that San Francisco is the perfect city for day drinking. On a nice day, it’s usually still a degree or seventeen 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. Plus, you’ll need a solid booze coat to survive the tenth time someone brings up that Mark Twain quote on a 65-degree July day. Skip Mount Tam (spoiler: it ain’t going anywhere) and go enjoy the best day drinking spots the city has to offer.
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.
You have a bunch of friends in town, forgot to plan anything, and now they’re throwing words around like “rock climbing” and “Groupon.” 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 materializes 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 unique bars, and will instantly impress anyone you take simply by showing them you know it exists. During the day it has kind of a coffee shop vibe (with interior design that combines the offices of a chemistry professor and a Mission start-up), but serving a long and impressive cocktail list instead of caffeine. It’s a good spot for a solo drink, or for a small group after you pretended to exercise by walking around the Presidio.
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 actually is 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. You can also reserve those outdoor tables, so when there’s too much sun at 2pm on a Friday to consider staying at the office, you can be prepared.
In a city full of bars that are either packed with people or entirely empty, Southern Pacific is an outlier. It’s enormous in a way that feels like there’s room for activities, except here the activities involve drinking and occasionally mixing in a bar snack, and even at its busiest it won’t make you claustrophobic. Rather than cramming your extended friend group into your apartment next Saturday afternoon, have your day party at Southern Pacific - go early, snag a table, and get a 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 over pool or body shots over 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 any of the creepy librarians whispering about the Dewey Decimal System. The cocktails are excellent, and it’s a perfect stop if you want a laid-back afternoon drink with your friend who is also on the outs with nature.
Bar Bocce is where you can pretend you’re at a beach club in Mykonos without having to actually go to Mykonos. It’s pretty far outside the city, and also (weirdly) one of the only bars in the Bay Area actually on the water, so it’s become our go-to for an afternoon of bocce, pizza, and working our way through the beer menu. Important note: the cocktails don’t involve hard liquor, but somehow still do the job of their stronger brethren.
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.
Some afternoons you just want to hang out and play drinking games, while maintaining the integrity of your apartment. Those afternoons are best spent at Lost & Found. There’s enough room that you won’t ever feel cramped, and you should be able to get onto the ping pong table without having to sell your firstborn to the devil (or negotiate with strangers).
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, the answer is usually Tipsy Pig. There’s somehow always a table open in the patio out back to sit with friends, the menu has some solid bar food options, and everyone you’ve ever met is here.