The Best Bars To Watch Sports In SF guide image


The Best Bars To Watch Sports In SF

When you want to watch sports on TV outside your home, go to one of these bars.

Even if you haven’t already given up on cable, your house isn’t always the best place to watch sports. Bars, on the other hand, never run out of ice, cold beer, or equally superstitious baseball or basketball fans, all while giving you the ability to cheer on a bunch of people you’ll never meet in real life. Here are some of our favorite places to watch sports around the city. They all have more than enough TVs to serve your athletic-observing needs, and, probably, way too much sports memorabilia. 


Bus Stop

Bus Stop in Cow Hollow is where you can watch every team imaginable under one roof, and also small enough that you might end up making friends with your sworn sports enemy (or making friends with a regular), and buying each other rounds. For larger games, they cover up the pool tables in the back to create more places to sit or put your drink down. There’s also a different drink special each night, and while they don’t have food here, Bus Stop lets you bring in from anywhere.

Blackthorn in the Inner Sunset is a sports bar that’s also kind of sexy. Yes, there are lots of TVs, but also dark red walls, candles on every table, and a disco ball that gives off a multi-colored glow on DJ nights. It’s not only a great place to watch sports but also a fantastic casual date spot, especially if pool or Monday night trivia is your love language. This place also has a solid beer list and a cozy little patio in back. 

If you can’t decide whether you’d rather be outside today or watching a game, tell everyone to meet you at Valley Tavern in Noe Valley. The back patio is one of the best in the city—it has multiple levels to it, each with a large picnic table and TV so your friends can feel like they have their own private patio while everyone watches the game. But because, San Francisco weather, you might wind up inside, which recently got a facelift. Sit in one of the U-shape booths for prime sports watching—they look up to the large TVs and sort of feel like being in a theater.

Combine an antiques fair with a pool hall and you have Yancy’s. Granted, there isn’t a pool table in sight at this Inner Sunset sports bar (there should be), but there are several well-lit dart lanes, and lots of TVs. Some bags of chips in the corner are the only source of food, but at least the drinks are cheap and strong, and the stained glass lamps are pretty. Just ignore the faded carpet and dust everywhere—this place might make you feel like an antique that needs refurbishing after. It's as old as it feels, after all.

The same people who brought you Bottle Club Pub, Rickhouse, and Pagan Idol moved The Lark Bar around the corner on Market Street in FiDi/SoMa. The new location is less of a small dark cave, so great if you’re rolling in deep for the game. They kept the casual charm of the original—all the sports memorabilia and even the canoe is here. And now there’s a menu of incredible Detroit-style pies from Joyride Pizza, located a few doors down.

We don’t walk around with a pitch counter, but we’re pretty sure The Boardroom has more screens than any other bar in North Beach. They also have solid wings (get the honey-garlic), and if you’re here for Monday Night Football, you can get them for 50 cents each. Instead of ye old sports paraphernalia, there are surfboards, skateboards, and slushy machines. This place feels more like a casual meet-up spot (boardroom, get it?) than a sports bar. You don’t actually need to like sports to have fun here.

This warehouse-like brewery in Bernal Heights is the kid-friendly sports spot. That probably has a lot to do with the activities, like shuffleboard, pinball, and, famously, a rare Killer Queen console, that are packed inside. On game days, families (and dogs) sprawl out on the picnic tables to stare up at big screens. Order a pint of beer, admire the designer dogs, and cheer on the home team. 

Golden Gate Tap Room is SF’s answer to Dave & Buster’s. It’s a multistory, adult playground with over 100 different beers and more square footage of screens than some of the mansions in Pac Heights have in actual floor space. The lower level is split into a bunch of sections with booths, pool tables, and other games, and the upper level is one gigantic space with enormous TVs on the walls. This is not a Union Square sports bar—it’s what would happen if a sports bar never stopped hitting the gym.

There isn’t one corner of Greens Sports Bar in Russian Hill that lets you forget that it solely exists for people to watch, talk about, think about, and breathe sports. Every surface is covered in photos of baseball players holding bats, football players holding trophies, and even a poster of Caddyshack. Play “name that sports great” while watching whatever game is on. And everyone else who can’t tell a basketball from a golf club, grab a bucket of beers and head to the pool table. 

This Lower Pacific Heights bar has more TVs than a Best Buy, and enough bar stools, high-top tables, and standing room to fit a few adult pickleball leagues. Unlike a lot of places on this guide, SFAC accepts reservations for up to 14 people. Which is great news, if you’re tired of getting a face full of armpit during an over-packed night at the Bus Stop. So come here when you need to yell about bad ref calls with a group—on big game days, you can hear cheers and pained groans from down the block. 

New Belgium Brewery is the move if you’re organizing a casual, beer-centric sports Happy Hour. This Mission Bay brewery near the Giants baseball stadium is a cavernous space with plenty of seating and standing room, and huge TVs that wrap around the bar. There are many beers on tap, including several that are brewed in-house. Grab a snack from the menu of bar bites, order pints like everyone else, and cheer on your favorite team (unless you're a Dodgers fan, in which case, just stay home).

Kezar Pub in Cole Valley is San Francisco’s ol’ faithful. And watching four uninterrupted hours of soccer, and football, and basketball, and UFC (with their sufficiently spicy buffalo wings by your side) is why you’re here. This is a great sports bar/Irish pub because they show pretty much every sport under the sun. And bring all your friends. There’s tons of elbow room in the back with the long communal tables. 

With multiple floors and TVs in every direction, there’s really not a bad seat at Richmond Republic Draught House. And no matter how big your group is, there always seems to be an available table. This sports bar in the Richmond feels more like a neighborhood clubhouse, attracting everyone with warm, welcoming service. Play some darts or pool while you’re at it, but order their pub food only in a pinch—it’s passable, but you’re better off sticking to the drinks. 

No one should doubt the near-universal appeal of corn dogs and a pork-chop-on-a-stick. This Castro gay sports bar will probably be filled with people eating all of the above, and fried chicken sandwiches, and wings. Whether you shout at the TV during the entire NCAA tournament or whether it’s all sportsball to you, this convivial spot is for everybody.

As cramped as dive bars typically are, Final Final is the opposite. This Cow Hollow place right near the Presidio gates is big, with plenty of TVs and places to sit with fellow sports people and watch those TVs. There are also a couple of pool tables and darts, if you can juggle watching and playing sports. But if you can’t, there’s free popcorn to keep your hands occupied while your eyes are glued to the screen. 

This Mexican restaurant in the Inner Sunset doubles as a place to get loud over a particularly intense sports game. Because, scientifically speaking, there’s no better way to soothe your throat after shouting expletives at people on a screen than with many rounds of margaritas. As far as food goes, this place has a standard menu of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas—but the highlight is the Nick’s Way taco with your choice of meat, a crispy tortilla inside of a soft one, and a boatload of guacamole.

If you treat watching sports like hunkering down for a tornado drill, then Steins in the Richmond is a good place to go. They serve hearty food that will keep you fed for the entire game, a good German beer selection, and a super friendly staff, which doesn’t necessarily help in the case of a tornado drill or your team losing, but doesn't hurt. 

If you’re at Glen Park Station, we hope you like sports. Or, at least own a knockoff 49ers jersey you can wear to pretend to. This sports bar is one of the best spots in the city to watch football, baseball, and basketball (and one of the only places to drink in Glen Park for that matter). There’s also a fireplace, a back patio, and free hotdogs on football game days. When you’re in the mood for burritos, you can also bring in food from next door La Corneta Taqueria

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photo credit: Joey Backs

The Best Bars To Watch Sports In SF guide image