San Francisco doesn’t have ice age winters (we don’t really have seasons for that matter), but we still deal with cold snaps and fog on a regular basis. While you could escape those bad weather days by hiding under a pile of blankets at home, that can get lonely. So go to a bar instead. All of these spots check off all the “cozy bar” boxes: They have great drinks, friendly people, and some dimly-lit moodiness. Some even have fireplaces, and, if you’re lucky, a living room set with a plush cushion or two. These are the 15 coziest bars in SF and they work any time of year - especially when it’s cold and you need a home away from home.
Dive bars aren’t usually cozy, but The Royal Cuckoo is a rare breed. Lights that look like red fireflies hang from the ceiling, and there are plenty of church pews, bar stools, and chairs that make it easy to find a place to sit. There’s even a cot in the back you can lie on and listen to vinyl records over a few cocktails - if you want the full “chilling at home” effect.
When we go to Maritime Wine Tasting Studio in the Financial District, we do what we always do when we’re at Ikea - pretend it’s our house. We love grabbing a spot at one of the big couches or large tables, and splitting a bottle of wine with a few friends. You can also get a tasting flight, and, if you stay long enough, you may eventually consider having your personal mail delivered here.
Look up the word “cozy” in a thesaurus and odds are the first synonym you’ll read is “snug.” This modern space lives up to its name with warm wood, candles, and short stools you’ll probably have to hunch down a little to sit on. You’ll probably always be elbow to elbow with the people around you, but as long they’re friends and they don’t accidentally spill your drink, that’s OK.
When it’s nice out, we love grabbing a few mezcal drinks and sitting under Peacekeeper’s retractable roof. But during the cold months, it’s all about the fireplace. This Lower Nob Hill bar makes us feel like we just came back from a day of skiing - but without the soreness or the wet clothes. And once you’ve warmed up by the fire, you can play Skee-ball or shoot pool in the back.
There are UGG shoes larger than the Black Horse London Pub, which is one of the smallest bars in SF. This spot in Cow Hollow has Prohibition-era photos and sports memorabilia on the walls you may be curious about - ask the owner who will gladly tell you the backstory of each one before (maybe) shotgunning a beer with you. No one said cozy had to be calm.
The Page on Divis. is like hanging out in your wacky uncle’s basement. There are paintings of old ships, and a taxidermy deer head mounted above the pool table. The only thing missing is a collection of vintage tracksuits. The well drinks are cheap (and strong), and when you find your own private corner to hole up in you can start telling the story of how he used to roll you around in a trash can as a kid. Maybe you should give him a call - he tells it better.
Beehive feels like a ’60s lounge full of long, deep cushioned benches. They also serve fondue, so you can drink their retro-themed cocktails, like the Thunderbird, while dipping crudités and bread into a molten hot pot of cheese. If that isn’t cozy, nothing is.
You could put the big armchairs at Scopo Divino in the middle of the arctic tundra, and you’d still be comfortable. And while you take a load off, grab a glass of syrah from their long by-the-glass list. This wine bar in Presidio Heights also has live music almost every night - which, aside from the heavy pours, might be the only thing keeping you from slipping into a peaceful sleep.
With its dim lighting, floral wallpaper, and mid-century chairs, Wildhawk feels like a club for those who would quietly describe themselves as “trendy.” The thing to drink here is the martinis, which will definitely help loosen you up for deep conversations, like where you see yourself in five years.
Fig and Thistle looks like a dream loft apartment - if dream apartments served California chardonnay and cheese plates. They have framed pictures of leaves and a wooden bunk bed for you to sit on. It’s also in a quiet back alley in Hayes Valley, the city’s epicenter of cute. When you’re done window shopping in the upscale boutiques nearby, stop into this small wine bar.
Being cozy and reading go hand in hand. That’s why we love the Interval At Long Now. The high bookshelves are filled with clock making and biomimicry books you can flip through while sipping on one of their creative cocktails. We like their take on milk punch, and the Lying in the Long Grass, Safe with mezcal, grapefruit, and green tea.
If your idea of a cozy bar is one that looks like a ’70s living room that Stevie Nicks would hang out in, head to Evil Eye. The plush velvet and leather couches and vintage glasses will make you wish you wore your (faux) fur coat or your Elton John sunglasses for the evening. This Mission bar also has pinball and a pool table, both of which are best enjoyed while sipping on one of their punch-y colored cocktails.
Hanging out in a bar that looks like a Victorian-era parlor will make you want to swirl a glass of bourbon, neat, all night long. You unfortunately can only do that until 2am at this spot in the Mission, but that’s still plenty of time to drink next to the small wood-burning stove, look up and think tipsy/cozy thoughts like how tin ceilings should really come back in style.
If you want to get away from all the action on Irving St. - or are braving the long wait for the dry-fried wings at San Tung - grab a cheap drink at this casual bar in the Sunset. Like the name suggests, there is a fireplace, as well as boxy, leather couches that look like something you should be sitting on while playing Nintendo in your friend’s mom’s basement. The welcoming atmosphere also makes it easy to chat with the bartender or the neighborhood locals, so don’t be surprised if you make a new friend.