Northern California has quite a different vibe from its southern counterpart. Each area has its own perks but the hilly landscape of San Francisco Bay has just the right touch for a memorable time. From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, thrilling Alcatraz Island, entertaining Fisherman’s Wharf and the historic cable cars and Victorian houses, San Fran will provide for any passionate sightseer. Here at Rad we know as well as anyone that the true way to experience a new destination is through the eyes of a local. This means hitting the spots less traveled by. Let’s take a look at Rad’s Guide to the best Underground Bars in San Francisco.
The Comstock Saloon is most known for its roots as an original Western saloon and one of the first bars to ever be established in San Francisco. Locals have been raging at this bar since 1907 and there are no signs of it stopping now. This cocktail lounge offers a menu with classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and the Negroni in an intimate setting that pays homage to San Fran’s Barbary Coast. During the 19th and early 20th century the area was known for jazz clubs, brothels and variety of saloons. You can feel the musty history right when you walk in.
Let’s face it. There are nights where you wanna get wild, join the crowd and bar hop until the wee hours of the morning. Then there are nights where you want to chill and sip a cocktail in a smooth and relaxed atmosphere. Ditch the crowds and head to 15 Romolo for a back-alley drinking oasis filled with top-notch cocktails at the Basque Hotel. Bring some Washingtons and flip on some laid-back jukebox toons to complete the vibe.
Location: 155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco
Opening Times: Mon – Thurs 4pm to late, Fri 12pm to late, Sat 11.30am to late, Sun 11.30am – 4pm
Location: 15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco
Opening Times: Mon-Sun: 5pm-2am
Without local dives, life really is worth much. It gives us a place to blur out our minds and make highly questionable decisions that equate to epic memories. Cheap and heavy drinks await those arriving at The Phone Booth. Strays and locals unite in this dimly lit watering hole that is home to a shifty pool table and an oddly-satisfying chandelier made of Barbies without clothes. Keep your tab open all night while the jams stay groovin’ on the classic jukebox.
The second choice dive of the Bay comes in the form of what is called Lucky 13. It’s located in the Duboce Triangle where bustling nightlife keeps the street alive well after midnight. Take your bar game skills to the next level with pinball and pool while you head nod to a punk-rock inspired jukebox. Leave the plastic at home, it’s cash only my friend.
Location: 1398 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco
Opening Times: Fri – Sun 8am – 2am. Mon – Thurs 2pm – 2am
Location: 2140 Market St, San Francisco
Opening Times: Mon – Sun 11am – 2am
Northern California is home to excellent wineries which equates to a wide array of wine bars in San Francisco. Check out West Coast Wine and Cheese off the 41 or 45 Muni Bus in downtown for an exquisite vino experience. The vast selection of wines from California, Oregon and Washington ties together this prominent neighborhood wine bar. Cheese is their speciality with six different variations on the menu as well as other incredible snack dishes.
Pizza, bar bites and plenty of televisions line the wood surfaced bar known as The Brick Yard. This local restaurant and bar is the go-to spot to catch the Warriors, Niners or Raiders game and serves up some of the most unique craft beers in the San Francisco bar scene. Happy hour offers excellent food and drink specials making it the perfect spot for your weekday or weekend booze bash.
Location: 2165 Union St, San Francisco
Opening Times: Fri 4pm-12am; Sat 2pm – 12am; Sun 2pm – 11pm; Mon 2pm-10pm; Tues 5pm – 11pm; Weds 5pm – 12am; Thurs 4pm – 12am.
Location: 1787 Union St, San Francisco
Opening Times: Mon – Fri 4pm – 11pm; Sat – Sun 10am – midnight.
Fillmore Street is one of SF’s most standout roads throughout the city’s history. It is San Francisco’s original jazz and blues district and home to the historically epic John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room. How can you not want to party at a bar with that kinda name? It’s known as the Bay Area’s funkiest club and features the likes of soul, hip-hop, disco and classic rock to its patrons. There really isn’t any other way to dance the night away than at the Boom Boom Room.
For the classic music venue feel, head over to Cafe Du Nord on Market Street and catch a live band get down. The former speakeasy venue brings an unrivaled combo of American hits, strong drinks and incredible live music. It’s located beneath the Swedish American Hall for a true underground experience. Take your pick at either venue and make sure to watch a riveting show from one of the many internationally known artists that pass by.
Location: 1601 Fillmore St, San Francisco
Opening Times: Sat – Weds 4pm – 2am & Thurs – Fri 4pm – 4am
Location: 2174 Market St, San Francisco
Opening Times: Weds – Sat 5pm – 12am. Closed Sun – Tues
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Feature image credit: Golden Gate by dusk by neekoh.fiLast updated on May 29, 2019
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