Most nights out in San Francisco either start or end in the Mission (citation needed). It’s where many of the best restaurants are, and it’s also home to a ridiculous number of great bars.
Not that you needed us to tell you that. But with so many options, it can be tough to figure out which are worth your time and money. That’s where we come in: here’s our guide to the best bars in the area, from dives to beer gardens to fancy cocktails. Most of these places have pretty good food too, so if you want to turn that “quick drink” into a longer night, forge onward.
If you go during off times, you’ll enjoy creative cocktails in pleasant surrounds. The problem is that everyone knows it, and the off times here often turn into peak times. When it gets crowded, you’ll enjoy those cocktails until they inevitably end up on your shoes after you’ve been bumped into a few times.
Beer. We love it so. And this warehouse-turned-brewery is one of the best places in the city to enjoy it – especially if you’re with a group, and especially if you’re day-drinking.
This classic outdoor beer garden is a bit dirty, and the bartenders are kind of mean, but that’s OK, because sometimes you need to be put in your place. We end up here pretty frequently, and are always happy when we do.
Fantastic cocktails in a cool, dark space? Yes. We’re very into the Lefty’s Fizz and Tarragon Collins, but you pretty much can’t go wrong with anything here. The drinks are strong, pretty, and if you have enough of them you will definitely order the lamb corn dog. As you should.
It’s dark, it’s lounge-y, and they have a ton of fancy Japanese whiskey. The bartenders know their sh*t, and all the cocktails (brown liquor-based and otherwise) are great. The upstairs area is also a cool place for a bigger group.
One of the better beer bars around, Monk’s Kettle is always in our rotation. The corner spot has lots of outdoor tables for day drinking, a cozy vibe inside that’s perfect for foggy nights, and a beer list that would make Pliny the Younger jump for joy. If you get that joke, you will be obsessed with this place.
The wait at Flour + Water is absurdly long and you can barely walk in the door of Trick Dog. Meet your new best friend, The Tradesman. An excellent wine and beer list, surprisingly good food, and a pretty cool vibe. Not sure why more people don’t seem to know about it. Go.
On a sunny afternoon, this is one of the best patios in the city: Views for miles, margaritas, and carnitas and tortilla if you get peckish. Like most good things in SF, it’s swamped with a huge line at all times.
A chill neighborhood bar that allows for hangouts over craft brews with friends. Less crowded than it should be, which is saying something.
Owner of one of the coolest neon signs in town. Also owner of the kind of booth seats that sink with the slightest provocation (as in, these seats have been sat in too many times). This feels like the kind of place where corrupt city officials might get their payoffs.
It’s a HIDEOUT people. None of this upfront cocktail business. Okay, so, yeah, you have to wander into the back room to get the good stuff, but most people seem to know that at this point. We ain’t complaining – the drinks are good.
A very crowded but fun dive. If you want cheap beer and to yell at a friend of yours in mostly-dark anonymity, this is the place to do it.
Another loud, proud, crowded bar in which to get your drink on. A good place for a casual meetup with friends, but definitely not date night material.
A pretty great cocktail bar, if you can ignore the fact that you didn’t take the time to reserve a lane in advance, and enjoy wistfully watching others bowl poorly.