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San Francisco’s 9 Favorite Bars

SF boasts an enticing bar scene with award-winning cocktail programs, often starring locally made spirits and seasonal ingredients from the farmers’ markets. At these 9 standout spots, sip on trendy espresso martinis, natural wines, and pints of craft beer and cider. Expect plenty of delicious food to pair your libations with, whether it’s a rum punch and steak combo or Aperol spritz with tinned fish. Here are a few of the most prized bars in San Francisco—plus an honorable mention across the Bay.

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Becky Duffett
9 Restaurants
Updated June 16, 2022
Restaurants:Cold Drinks Bar, Charmaine's Rooftop Lounge, Boulevard
Price Range:$$$ - $$$$
Cuisines:Bar / Lounge / Bottle Service, Californian
Neighborhoods:Chinatown, Downtown / Union Square, Financial District / Embarcadero
A photo of Cold Drinks Bar restaurant

Cold Drinks Bar

$$$$
Bar / Lounge / Bottle Service
Chinatown
4.8
16 reviews

Within the cavernous China Live emporium, Cold Drinks hides away as a secluded cocktail bar on the second story, with leather booths, black and gold accents, and a view of the Broadway tunnel. Given the speakeasy vibes, perhaps not surprisingly, the name of the drinks game here is Scotch, whether washed in luxurious duck fat or mixed with tropical flavors such as coconut and pineapple.


At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Charmaine's Rooftop Lounge restaurant

Charmaine's Rooftop Lounge

$$$$
Californian
Downtown / Union Square
4.5
928 reviews

In a city with few rooftop bars—perhaps thanks to the fog—Charmaine’s rises above the crowd. Sitting at the top of the Proper Hotel, a flatiron with views up and down Market, it’s a lounge scene with couples cozying up to firepits. With a cocktail menu from the BVHospitality team, the same crew behind the trendy bar Trick Dog, and small plates courtesy of chef Jason Fox, former chef of MICHELIN-starred Commonwealth, expect an exceptional Pimm’s Cup and burger.


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Experiences available
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A photo of Boulevard restaurant

Boulevard

$$$$
Californian
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.8
8151 reviews

Boulevard is a San Francisco classic at the foot of the Bay Bridge, surrounded by lapping waves and twinkling lights. In 2021, the restaurant was treated to a full renovation courtesy of acclaimed designer Ken Fulk, who expanded the bar area, amplifying the Belle Epoque ambience with velvet bar stools and twisted lead lamps. Local cocktail legend Greg Lindgren of 15 Romolo consulted on the new drinks menu, putting playful twists on cocktails such as the French 75 and, of course, the Boulevardier.


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A photo of Chezchez restaurant

Chezchez

$$$$
Contemporary French / American
Mission District
4.4
34 reviews

The latest opening from the acclaimed Trick Dog team flipped the former Bon Voyage space in the Mission in favor of a fresh bar serving spritzes and tinned fish. Chezchez is a Europe-inspired cafe spilling out on an open parklet. The drinks list features natural wines, spritzes, and bloody Marys, while the snack action includes tinned fish, cured meats, complex cheeses, and fried potato puffs with fancy ranch dip. For those who prefer to sip at home, the bar also offers takeout.


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Takeout available
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A photo of Sushi Sato restaurant

Sushi Sato

$$$$
Japanese
Tenderloin
4.6
60 reviews

The Mins Group, also behind Sushi Hon in the Mission, opened their most ambitious project yet, debuting a triple-restaurant space in the Tenderloin in fall 2021. At the center, Sushi Sato boasts a full cocktail bar, showcasing more than 80 types of whisky, plus cocktails infused with East Asian flavors such as oolong, shiso, lychee, and more. Drinkers can snack on smaller sushi tasting sets and kick back in the modern and minimalist space.


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A photo of Perry's - Embarcadero restaurant

Perry's - Embarcadero

$$$$
American
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.5
2010 reviews

Perry’s is an old-school bar and grill where drinkers have been sipping martinis at blue-and-white checkered tables since 1969. Though not technically a sports bar, it’s still a prime spot to catch a game. The standbys are the manhattans and old fashioneds, which pair well with an excellent burger—although some prefer to up the ante with a filet mignon and wedge salad.


At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Mr. Digby's restaurant

Mr. Digby's

$$$$
American
Noe Valley
4.7
264 reviews

Noe Valley residents were left without a cocktail bar for a long time, but that’s no longer the case: Wife-and-husband Kristen and Mike McCaffery knew what the neighborhood needed. Mr. Digby’s opened in spring 2021 as a handsome black-and-white tavern, named after Mike’s childhood sheepdog. Spicy mezcal margaritas or dirty martinis come with fully loaded deviled eggs and spinach dip, slathered into sourdough cut hasselback-style. Under OpenTable experiences, check out the nightly dinner specials and drag brunches.


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A photo of Balboa Cafe - SF restaurant

Balboa Cafe - SF

$$$$
American
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio
4.7
18 reviews

More than a century old, the Balboa is still a buzzy brunch scene. Regulars order consecutive rounds of nitro smooth espresso martinis—so popular they’re on tap—along with sweet and spicy bloody Marys. The food is clubby but top-notch: the fan favorite house burger arrives on a sweet baguette with shoestring fries.


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A photo of Palmetto restaurant

Palmetto

$$$$
Contemporary American
Oakland
4.5
228 reviews

Palmetto, opened by the team behind Kon-Tiki in Oakland, launched mid-pandemic. Retro Palm Springs accents—black-and-white checkered floors, powder blue booths, a hot pink neon sign, and an abundance of greenery—abound here. The drinks have tiki undertones—expect strong rum cocktails, such as a house punch washed in milk and spiked with absinthe, which pair well with meaty plates accompanied by beef-fat fries. Palmetto also offers a couple of special experiences, including Sunday suppers.


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