SAN FRANCISCO is a city that slowly unfolds before you. The well-known cables of the Golden Gate Bridge and pastel-hued Painted Ladies are far from the city’s best attractions. Hang onto the well-known haunts, and no matter how long you have, you’ll miss out entirely on the true culture of San Francisco. Instead, spend your evenings navigating the neighborhoods. Seek out the creative cocktails, down-to-earth taprooms, and dancey live music venues that showcase what real life in San Francisco is like. If you’re heading to San Francisco, here are the best bars you can’t miss.

Search by neighborhoods:

1. The Mission
2. FiDi
3. The Castro
4. Fillmore
5. Alamo Square
6. The Tenderloin
7. SoMa
8. Nob Hill
9. Chinatown
10. The Marina
11. The Richmond


The Mission

Make Out Room

Why we love this place: Make Out Room may sound like a strip club, but don’t let that deter you — you’ll be the one dancing here. The dance floor is open every day of the week, but the experience is never quite the same. You may find yourself getting down to slow jams one night and Afro-Funk the next. Most nights require a $10+ cover, so get there early to make the most of your night out.

Hours of operation: 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 3225 22nd St

ABV

Photo: ABV

Why we love this place: ABV came onto the San Francisco cocktail scene in 2014. The bar is tucked away from the main action of the Mission District, and you’re sure to dig their inventive cocktail and small-plates menu. The Mumbai Mule is the quickest way to get to India from San Francisco with a drink.

Hours of operation: 2:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 3174 16th St

Latin American Club

Why we love this place: Latin American Club is the kind of place to go when you’ve only got the budget for one drink and you want to make it count. Short on pesos? Order the margarita in a pint glass. And don’t count on Apple Pay here, because this spot is cash only.

Hours of operation: 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Mon-Thu); 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Fri); 3:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Sat); 2:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Sun)
Address: 3286 22nd St

Little Baobab

Why we love this place: While enjoying your Senegalese feast at Little Baobab, you might be told to give a hand in shoving your table into the wall to make space for a live band setting up. On any given night, you might find live Caribbean music or DJs spinning R&B at this restaurant-cum-nightclub. Eclectic and passionate about food and sounds — Little Baobab one of San Francisco’s most awesome dance clubs.

Hours of operation: 4:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Wed, Fri, Sun); 11:00 AM – 2:00P PM and 4:00 PM- 2:00 AM (Sat)
Address: 3380 19th St

Zeitgeist

Why we love this place: A tagline like “Warm Beer, Cold Women” is self-defense for Zeitgeist. It is effortlessly cool, with tattooed bartenders who don’t smile back and divey punk decor best suited for a biker bar. Motörhead plays over the speakers, but even that isn’t enough to deter buttoned-down types from grabbing a beer (there are 64 to choose from) and spending the day in the beer garden. Anyone with a taste for craft beer and a little bit of edge will love Zeitgeist.

Hours of operation: 9:00 AM – 2:00 AM
Address: 199 Valencia St

FiDi

Rickhouse

Photo: Rickhouse

Why we love this place: While it’s relatively new, this Bourbon & Branch sequel has quickly become a San Francisco institution. The dimly lit whisky bar looks like an old-time Western Saloon, but their beautifully crafted cocktails are anything but dated. Situated in the heart of downtown, Rickhouse is an always-crowded happy hour spot.

Hours of operation: 2:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 246 Kearny St

Local Edition

Why we love this place: San Francisco is bursting with not-so-hidden speakeasies, but Local Edition shakes cocktails far better than many of the rest. Most Saturdays, Local Edition sets the scene of a film noir hideaway with live jazz in their dimly lit bar decorated with typewriters and news clippings on the walls.

Hours of operation: 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Mon-Thu); 4:30 PM – 2:00 AM (Fri); 7:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Sat)
Address: 691 Market St

The Castro

Hi Tops

Photo: Hi Tops

Why we love this place: The tagline at Hi Tops is, “Cold Pitchers, Hot Catchers.” Sure, you may go to Hi Tops to watch the game, but you’ll probably end up absolutely distracted by the bartenders. Hi Tops is San Francisco’s most welcoming gay bar — and no matter what team you’re playing for, you’ll love their house-made corn dogs.

Hours of operation: 11:30 AM – 12:00 AM (Mon-Fri); 10:00 AM – 12:00 AM (Sat-Sun)
Address: 2247 Market St

Brewcade

Why we love this place: When you’re tired of making conversation with your friends about current affairs and job problems, Brewcade is here to rescue your night with their extensive collection of pinball machines, cabinets, and multicades. If you’re solo, this game bar is as social as any multiplayer setting and making friends is so much easier when you’ve got a beer and the Addams Family pinball to fall back on.

Hours of operation: 4:00 PM – 1:00 AM (Mon – Wed); 4:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Thu – Fri); 2:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Sat); 2:00 PM – 1:00 AM (Sun)
Address: 2200 Market St

Fillmore

Smuggler’s Cove

 Smuggler’s CoveSan Francisco, United StatesPirate themed bar with strong mixed drinks.

Why we love this place: Smuggler’s Cove is an over-the-top tiki bar with the largest rum list of any bar in the United States. Their cocktail list is an extensive one, defined by exotic flavors and creative takes on old standards. If going with a group, be sure to order the ominous sounding volcano bowl. Ritual sacrifice was never so much fun.

Hours of operation: 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 650 Gough St

Alamo Square

The Independent

Photo: Justin Yee via The Independent

Why we love this place: It would be a true shame to go all the way to San Francisco without seeing a live show at one of the city’s countless concert venues. The Independent is an intimate venue with excellent acoustics and a killer lineup. They put on several shows a week that span across genres.

Hours of operation: Varies
Address: 628 Divisadero St

The Tenderloin

Bourbon & Branch

Photo: Rickhouse

Why we love this place: This speakeasy-style bar requires a password for entry, and you’ll be escorted to a secret location decorated in full 1920’s style. Once inside, you can choose from their rare collection of bourbon and scotch for a truly memorable cocktail.

Hours of operation: 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 501 Jones St

SoMa

City Beer Store

Why we love this place: The City Beer Store looks from the outside, like little more than a well-stocked beer fridge. Located in SoMa, the casual bar with 15 beers on tap is a great place to grab a happy hour beer or create your own mix-and-match six pack to take home.

Hours of operation: 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Address: 1168 Folsom St

Bootie SF

Photo:Bootie SF

Why we love this place: The DNA Lounge turns into Bootie SF each Saturday for themed events that will give you a glimpse at San Francisco’s wild side. Bootie SF spins mashup and bootleg tracks until stupid o’clock. A caveat, Bootie SF is often the site of ‘the night before the morning after’ so don’t expect to be bright-eyed in the morning.

Hours of operation: 9:00 PM – Late
Address: 375 11th St

Nob Hill

Hopwater Distribution

Why we love this place: Hopwater Distribution is the perfect bar when you’re feeling stylish but still laid-back — think hipsters with freshly washed plaid shirts and neatly trimmed beards. Thirty-one beers on tap represent California as the thirty-first state, and their crab tater tots will forever change your expectations of bar food. Hopwater’s location in Nob Hill makes it an ideal stopover for a weekday happy hour or start-of-the-night meeting spot.

Hours of operation: 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM (Sun-Wed); 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM (Thu-Sat)
Address: 850 Bush St

Kozy Kar

Why we love this place: Kozy Kar‘s walls are papered with Old School pinups, from back in the day when nudies would be found in a magazine rather than a hastily-closed browser tab. The dive bar has themed booths and waterbeds for seating, and a constant stream of background tease to keep you occupied while you down your beer.

Hours of operation: 7:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 1548 Polk Street

The Wreck Room

Why we love this place: With pool, basketball, skeeball, a dart board, and a shuffleboard, The Wreck Room has all the bar games you didn’t know you missed. The spacious bar is popular among college football enthusiasts — the vibe makes it the perfect place to perfect a fantasy league. You’re likely to find a crowd here at any time of day.

Hours of operation: 4:00 PM-2:00 AM (Mon-Fri); 12:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Sat-Sun)
Address: 1390 California St

Harper & Rye

Why we love this place: While Harper & Rye is a relatively new player on the competitive SF bar scene, it’s quickly become a rising star. Shandys and punch jars come as a down-home surprise on the otherwise upscale menu, and raw wood countertops lend a casual air to what could be a showy cocktail bar. Harper & Rye is appropriately classy with a bit of the neighborhood bar feel.

Hours of operation: 4:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 1695 Polk St

Chinatown

Li Po Cocktail Lounge

Why we love this place: The Li Po Cocktail Lounge is known for one thing and one thing only: mai tais. Located on a backstreet of Chinatown, the otherwise ordinary-looking bar pours practically lethal amounts of rum and curaçao that both locals and SF’s adopted son Anthony Bourdain have approved.

Hours of operation: 2:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Address: 916 Grant Ave

The Marina

The Tipsy Pig

Why we love this place: Self -described as an “American Gastrotavern”, The Tipsy Pig is a beloved brunch spot for Marina dwellers. The chilaquiles even have kale, so you know it’s healthy West Coast fare. And if you’re too sleepy for brunch after a night out, you can spend Sunday in Crissy Field, and then head to The Tipsy Pig to refresh with their Strawberry Fields cocktail — a Shirley Temple with an adult twist.

Hours of operation: 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM (Mon – Thu); 11:30 AM – 2:00 AM (Fri); 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM (Sat-Sun)
Address: 2231 Chestnut St

The Richmond

Trad’r Sam

Why we love this place: Ever wanted to drink at the same place your grandad did? Trad’r Sam is a San Francisco dive bar dating back to the 1940’s. Their Polynesian inspired drinks are cheap at just $7, or you can go all in for the $14 Scorpion Bowl. Wear your best Hawaiian shirt or just practice your dad jokes. Trad’r Sam has seen it all for over 70 years.

Hours of operation: 9:00 AM – 2:00 AM
Address: 6150 Geary Blvd.